Taylor named HSJ head boys coach
HUNTINGTON — It is common to see former Marshall University basketball standout Ryan Taylor in a gymnasium with a basketball in his hands.
Taylor, an Indianapolis native, ventures back to Cam Henderson Center often to get in workouts with Marshall’s current players.
This summer and fall, however, Taylor can be found in another gym right down the road from where he stood out for the Thundering Herd from 2013-17.
On Monday, Taylor was introduced as the new head boys basketball coach for Huntington St. Joe’s program.
“It’s exciting for me,” Taylor said. “I’m familiar with everyone around here and the community aspect of Huntington. Hopefully, I can bring back a lot of excitement and enjoyment around the gym.”
After meeting with administration Monday morning, Taylor met with the returning players for the 2019-20 season at lunchtime to introduce himself and give them a bit of his background. Many of the players remembered watching him play for the Herd when they were much younger, so there was an enthusiasm about the group as they listened to their new head coach.
Those who remember Taylor’s playing career for Marshall recall two key aspects to his game: (1) Taylor’s versatility and (2) Taylor’s toughness.
Taylor said those are aspects he looks forward to instilling in the young players, starting with the three-week practice period, which opens in early June.
“As a coach, I want them to work on all aspects,” Taylor said. “Today’s basketball is positionless. In high school, it is a bit different, but I want us to have a free open motion offense. I want to take a look at the players and see what they are strong at doing, but I think they’ll love playing in that offense.”
One thing Taylor said he will emphasize from the beginning is effort -- both on and off the court.
At 6-foot-5, Taylor was an undersized big man while playing in Conference USA, but his effort and determination helped him to all-conference accolades in three of four seasons with the Herd.
For his Marshall career, Taylor finished in the top-10 all-time in several categories: points scored (1,778, 9th), rebounds (985, 3rd), free throws made (458, 5th), free throws attempted (683, 3rd) and blocks (122, 8th).
The most impressive thing about Taylor as a player was his consistency. Taylor is fourth all-time in games played at Marshall with 128 and his scoring average per season ranged from 12.8 as a freshman to 14.4 points per game in two separate seasons. He also averaged no fewer than 6.6 rebounds per year while averaging more than eight rebounds a game in two separate seasons (2014-15 and 2016-17) when he was an All-CUSA third team selection.
While Taylor’s numbers are strong, they don’t translate to the coaching arena where he will be a rookie as he takes the helm of the Irish.
It isn’t often that a coaching rookie gets a head coaching position, but Taylor said his talks with the administration at Huntington St. Joe showed a match in what was desired from the position.
“I had a phone interview with (Huntington St. Joe advancement director) Belinda (Chapman) in the front office and it went well, so I had a face-to-face interview,” Taylor said. “They said they wanted someone enthusiastic and they wanted a change within the program with the players. I feel like I was the best fit for it.”
Taylor replaces former Marshall player Ross Scaggs, who was with the program for nine seasons.