Former NBA general manager Bower named head coach at Marist
POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- Marist hired Jeff Bower as the program’s seventh Division I head men’s basketball coach and 10th in its history on Wednesday. The announcement was made by Director of Athletics Tim Murray.
“I would like to welcome Jeff and his family back to the Marist College community and the Hudson River Valley,” Marist Director of Athletics Tim Murray said. “I am confident in his ability to evaluate talent and character given his breadth of experience at the collegiate and NBA levels. Jeff understands Marist’s values and the high academic standards that are expected of our student-athletes. Our goal is to win MAAC championships, and we feel that Jeff has both the leadership and management skills to reach this standard.”
Bower brings three decades of experience at the collegiate and NBA levels. After serving as an assistant coach at Penn State from 1983-86, he spent the next nine seasons at Marist. Bower was the top assistant from 1986-90, and associate head coach from 1990-95. He then worked for the NBA’s Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets for the next 15 years, during which he served as general manager, head coach, director of player personnel, assistant general manager, assistant coach, director of scouting and advance scout. Most recently, Bower served as a consultant to the NBA league office and various NBA teams.
“I’m excited to join the Marist community and have high hopes and expectations for our basketball program,” Bower said. “My family and I hope to make positive contributions to the Marist and Poughkeepsie communities. I am eager to take advantage of one of the most technologically advanced campuses in the Northeast and all of the opportunities that can be created.”
“The facilities are first-class and provide our student-athletes with an environment to pursue excellence. Our job will be to maximize the resources available through smart, efficient and relentless work habits that can be translated to success on the basketball court, in daily practices and academic pursuits.”
In Bower’s previous tenure at Marist, the Red Foxes won the ECAC Metro Conference regular-season championship in 1987 and 1988, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 1987. He aided in the development of Rik Smits, who was the second overall pick in the 1988 NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers. The Red Foxes were also ranked second in the country in field goal percentage defense (.401) in the 1989-90 season.
In 1995, Bower joined the Hornets’ organization as an advance scout, a position he held for two seasons. He was then promoted to director of scouting, a position he held from 1997-2000. In 1999, Bower served as an assistant coach for 35 games when Paul Silas was promoted to head coach, during which the Hornets posted a 22-13 record.
Bower became assistant general manager for the 2000-01 season, and served the first of his two stints as general manager from 2001-03. After one season apiece as assistant coach (2003-04) and director of player personnel (2004-05), he took over as general manager in 2005. He held this position until 2010, and also was head coach for the final 73 games of the 2009-10 season. Despite several injuries to key players, the Hornets compiled a 34-39 record under his leadership.
In 2007-08, a team constructed by Bower enjoyed its finest season in franchise history. New Orleans won its only division title, set a franchise record with 56 regular-season wins, and advanced to the Western Conference semifinals, where they took the San Antonio Spurs to seven games.
“Jeff is a brilliant basketball coach who has held every conceivable job in the NBA, which makes him an astute hire for Marist College,” said NBA analyst and former New York Knicks and Houston Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy. “His background is unique, but I don’t think he has ever forgotten his roots at Marist. I think he’s going to combine the knowledge he gathered in the NBA with his passion for Marist College, and make them a perennial contender in the MAAC.”
“I’m ecstatic with the hiring of Jeff Bower as the head men’s basketball coach at Marist College,” Marist head women’s basketball coach Brian Giorgis said. “I’ve never seen anyone more meticulous and organized. Hopefully he will bring some of the magic he had with the Hornets to the men’s program. It will be an honor to work with him.”
Bower is a native of Hollidaysburg, Pa. He and his wife, Lisa, are the parents of a 10-year-old daughter, Lindsey. He received a bachelor of the arts in history/education from St. Francis (Pa.). As an undergraduate, he was an assistant with the Red Flash.