Jeff Bower Named Men's Basketball Coach
By Mike Ferraro ’01
President Dennis J. Murray (left) and Director of Athletics Tim Murray (far right) officially welcome Jeff Bower (center) as head coach of the Marist men’s basketball team at a press conference April 15 in the Marist College Student Center.
On April 10, Jeff Bower was named as the 10th men’s basketball head coach in Marist College history.
For Bower, it was a chance to return to a school where he gained a tremendous amount of experience fairly early in his career. He worked for nine years at Marist, serving from 1986 to 1990 as assistant coach and 1990 to 1995 as associate head coach of the men’s basketball team. During his tenure, he was on the bench for the Red Foxes’ 1987 NCAA Tournament appearance. He also aided in the development of Rik Smits ’88, who became the second overall selection in the 1988 NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers.
Bower, who also was an assistant coach at Penn State for three years, went on to work for the NBA’s Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets for 15 years. In his time with the organization, he held a multitude of jobs: general manager, head coach, director of player personnel, assistant general manager, assistant coach, director of scouting, and advance scout. For the past three years, he served as a consultant to various NBA teams as well as the NBA league office.
Jeff Bower talks with NBA All-Star Chris Paul.
Under Bower’s leadership, the Hornets enjoyed their best season in franchise history in 2007-08. New Orleans won its only division title, set a franchise record with 56 regular-season wins, and advanced to the Western Conference semifinals, where the team took the San Antonio Spurs to seven games.
Bower’s experience in a variety of roles across different levels of basketball has given him an impressive résumé, one that has given him instant credibility with his new team.
“I was happy,” said junior forward Jay Bowie, who was one of the team’s captains this past season. “His résumé speaks for itself. He’s had so many years in the NBA and college already, and he seems like he really knows his stuff, so I’m glad he’s here.”
A press conference to introduce Bower was held in the Cabaret in the College’s Student Center on April 15. The well-attended gathering included Marist administrators and coaches, media members from multiple outlets, alumni, fans, and members of the men’s basketball team.
“The challenge is to build on the team’s current positives, focus on the things we can do better,” Bower said at the press conference. “I think that I can step in and help them be better, help them get to those levels and places that they seek. We aim to fulfill and maximize the potential of our student-athletes and to put them in situations to be successful.
“The challenge off the court is to reinvigorate the community. This community loves basketball; they want to be a part of basketball on those nights in November, December, and through March. We have to bring back that feeling of excitement to the community.”
Marist Director of Athletics Tim Murray worked alongside Bower as an assistant coach from 1986 to 1989 and believes Bower is a natural fit for the position. Murray stated at the press conference that “we have expectations to win championships” and thinks Bower is the right person to accomplish the goal based on his basketball acumen and his belief in the institution.
“He has top-notch ability to coach and to evaluate talent,” Murray said. “He brings credibility to our program and on the recruiting trail. Jeff understands Marist’s ideals and values.”
With nine years of prior experience at the school, Bower returns to Marist with memories of what makes the college special. “We want student-athletes who fit the profile of a winner, who understand the academic standards of Marist, and who understand the value of hard work and the importance of following through,” Bower said. “They should be prepared to be successful.
“When I spoke with my friends and colleagues, both professionally and collegiately, they all said, ‘You hit a home run. That’s a great place and a great situation.’ ”
Mike Ferraro ’01 is Marist’s sports information director.