Well, that didn’t take long, did it?
Within a couple months of Tom Wells’ hiring as Michigan City boys basketball coach, Marquette Catholic has returned to the Wolves’ schedule, ending a hiatus, if you will, that dates back to 2010.
“When (Michigan City Athletics Director) Craig (Shaman) approached me and said, we’d love to get (Marquette) back in, it was absolutely,” Wells said. “I know this, Marquette is a short bus trip and I like short bus trips. We’re light five games and it’s getting pretty late. We might be able to find one or two, but five is a different story. When this became an option, it was a no brainer. I received it with open arms. The positive side of it is it can develop into a community event.”
Shaman and Marquette Catholic’s Katie Collignon made a joint announcement Monday on the renewal of the series, which was stopped after the 2009-10 season.
“I’m thrilled,” Blazers coach Fred Mooney said. “I’m excited for Marquette, for Michigan City as a town, the community, the high school. Our A.D. and their A.D. had talked before and (Shaman) basically said it wasn’t his decision. It was my understanding that he was handcuffed. There was an opportunity now to make it happen, and Katie and Craig sat down and worked it out. Why spend money driving to kingdom come when you can just drive up 421?”
It’s widely believed that the teams not playing in the last decade was the choice of former Wolves coach John Boyd, though Shaman didn’t want to dwell on the past in discussing the renewal of the series.
“It just never worked out before,” Shaman said. “I’m just happy we could get it worked out.”
“It’s a great opportunity for both schools and the community,” Collignon added in a media release.Ironically, Wells was one of the more outspoken coaches around in regards to kids leaving the public school to attend a private school during his tenure at La Porte. Marquette’s run of success has had more than a few players with roots in La Porte.
“There are certain feelings about the whole recruitment idea,” he said. “The other side of it is, it is what it is. I’ve been doing this too long to worry about outside noise. Kids are going to think what they want, do what they want. It’s one of those things that you can’t let bother you. It’s out of my control. There might have been a day when if I’d lose kids as a head coach, I feel like I would dig in my heels. As the new guy, I haven’t lost any kids, so I’m like, let’s do it and we’ll cross those other bridges if we have to. Hopefully we don’t have to.”
Mooney, who joined the Marquette staff during prior coach Donovan Garletts, feels like he and Wells are on the same page.
“Tom’s in it right for the reasons, to build strong relationships in his programs,” Mooney said. “That translates into good citizens whether you’re on the north side of town or the other side. These kids play against each other in the park, with each other in AAU. They’re friends. That’s not going to change whether we’re playing there or at the Scholl Center. Look at how much we’ve missed out. We both have had some really good teams and there would have been some marquee games for the community to enjoy.”
The schools have agreed to play the next four years with the first contest set for the boys contest will serve as the back-end of a varsity-only doubleheader with the girls slated to tip off at 5:30 p.m.
“The older I get, it’s like you’re going to lose games anyhow, I just want to make sure we’re ready to go at the end of February,” Wells said. “It’s an opportunity to better ourselves. It’ll be a meaningful game in front of a lot of people, a great experience for us, for the kids, and it’s early in the year, too.”