Darrin Travillian enters his first season as head coach of the Maryville College women’s basketball team with many of his question answered.
The new coach knows what offense he wants to run. An assistant last year, he helped install the one Maryville currently uses. He knows what players best fit where and how to get the most out of them.
“I think once we get our roles defined and we’re able to establish some continuity, I think we’re going to be a fun team to watch,” Travillian said. “It’s going to be exciting because we’re going to be able to pressure people up and down the floor and push the ball a little bit more than we have.”
Now comes the hard part.
Maryville’s men’s and women’s teams get things started with the school’s annual “Midnight Madness” practice Thursday night. Activities begin at 11:30 p.m., with the Scots and Lady Scots taking the floor at 12:01 a.m. Admission is free.
Travillian plans to get right to work honing Maryville’s year-old dribble/drive offense once the madness begins. Predicated on spreading the floor and letting athletes make plays, the approach has the added benefit of deterring double teams in the post.
“We’re going to see a lot of that,” Travillian said. “We have the personnel now, really one-through-five, to run that all the way through. We’ve got the people who can drive, the people who can shoot and the people who can slice to the rim. We’ve got all the different pieces to hopefully make that thing go.”
Everybody, the new coach said, will be called upon to score.
“If you are a ball handler, and you can get to the rim, we’re going to give you that chance to go,” Travillian said. “If you’re a stand still shooter, we’re going to find a way to get you the ball, too. It’s really predicated on spacing the floor.”
Coaching the Scots’ defense for the past two years, Travillian says this Maryville team will be a lot more focused on the defensive side of the ball. Turning up the defense will lead to points, Travillian said.
“I think that we’re going to emphasize defense more than we ever have. I don’t see us scoring any fewer points,” he said. “I think we score more points now from our defense than we have in the past. We’re going to turn up the defense a little bit from where we’ve been.”
Defense has long been one of Travillian’s specialties. After a stint coaching in Kentucky, Travillian moved back to his hometown in Illinois. There, he took the reigns of the girls’ basketball team at Downers Grove North High School.
“Headed back home to Illinois, which is Downers Grove, and kind of got things started there,” he said.
During his first year, Travillian led the Lady Trojans to an 18-9 mark, a 14-game turnaround from the previous season. During the run, Travillian’s squad held opponents to under 36 points per game and forced close to 20 turnovers per contest.
Those stats helped Downers Grove land a spot in the Top 20 rankings in both the Chicago Sun-Times and Daily Herald, a first for the Lady Trojans. So how did a coach from Illinois find his way to Maryville College?
Answer: his wife.
Katy Travillian is a professor at the University of Tennessee. When she came to interview for her position two years ago, her husband heard about the opening at Maryville.
“I really wanted to make the move back into college basketball,” Darrin Travillian said. “I was looking around, found Maryville, and I did my research really quickly. I found out the kind of program it had been and what it could be. I got in touch with Todd Wright, and I got in the door as an assistant.”
Travillian said one of his first jobs will be broadening Maryville’s recruiting base.
“I still want to get those great kids from East Tennessee because there are a ton of good ones,” he said. “We need those players here, but I want to see if I can tap back into my roots in Kentucky and Illinois and even go further East, West, South and North to see if we can get that recruiting base a little bit bigger.”
Travillian said it was a proud moment the day he was named Maryville’s coach.
“Just the reception I got from (the players), the hugs, the clapping,” he said. “There were tears and a lot of people excited. That moment, I felt like I was home.”