SI Vault
 
Men of Troy
Michael Jaffe
November 23, 1992
The cardboard box behind the desk of Troy (Ala.) State coach Don Maestri is overflowing with saucer-sized lapel pins emblazoned with 258—BELIEVE IT! Two hundred and fifty-eight. That is the number of points his Trojans scored in a single game last season against Atlanta's DeVry Institute—obliterating the NCAA mark of 187 they had set just a year earlier against DeVry.
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
November 23, 1992

Men Of Troy

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2

Maestri also keeps his charges nearly guilt-free about their shot selection. "I never get yelled at for shooting too much," says Simpson, "except maybe by players on the other team."

Nor are the Trojans shy about launching from long range. Last season, refs at Troy State games raised their arms more often then New York City traffic cops: The Trojans hoisted an NCAA-record 1,303 three-pointers and made 444.

Critics chastise the Trojans for not playing defense—they surrendered 107.8 points a game last season, the most in Division II—and for running up the score. But Maestri contends that as long as Troy State wins, who cares whether they hold opponents to 40 or 140? And in response to charges about running up lopsided scores, he says, "You don't tell great defensive teams to stop playing defense halfway through the game, do you?"

Since taking over at Troy State in '82, Maestri has been keenly aware that success isn't measured only by wins and losses. He understands the importance of creatively marketing the program. Among his creations are pregame dribbling exhibitions by team members, student shoot-outs from half-court and paper-airplane-flying contests. Attendance has increased by about 1,500 fans a game during Maestri's tenure, despite an occasional ill-fated event like his hamburger-eating relay race. "It was a mess," he says. "We had mayo and pickles all over the gym floor."

In September, school brass repainted that floor, jazzing up the premises in preparation for the Trojans' move to Division I next season. Troy State also has a successful Division II football program, but, says chancellor Jack Hawkins, "Division II just connotes second-class status."

After Troy State announced in June 1990 its decision to leave Division II, the school withdrew from the Gulf South Conference and the basketball team had to cobble together a new schedule of games on short notice. Operating under the beggars-can't-be-choosers rule, the Trojans stuck themselves with a season-opening 14-game, 5,500-mile road trip last year. (They won 11 and went 23-6 overall before losing in the first round of the Division II tournament.)

Troy State has a more conventional schedule this season, which is only one reason that Maestri grows excited when he talks about his prospects for 1992-93. Another: He has eight players back from last year's high-scoring squad. On Dec. 31 the runningest, gunningest team in the land will host Central Methodist, which last season had the fourth-best offense in the NAIA. Says Maestri, "I think we'll need a new scoreboard for that game."

1 2