More than 20 years since he last coached basketball in Southwest Florida — taking Teddy Dupay, Earnest Graham and Mariner High to the top ranking in the state — Tim Maloney is returning to his former home.
Maloney, a New York native who was an assistant at Iona College in New York last year after eight seasons on the staff at Baylor, has been hired to take over the Dunbar High boys team once longtime coach Andre McGill retires in June.
“Mr. Maloney has had an impressive career not only as a basketball coach but also as a life coach,” Dunbar Principal Carl Burnside said in an announcement. “We look forward to having him lead our boys basketball program for the years to come.”
Maloney, a 1982 graduate of Manhattanville College, was hired at Mariner in 1993 and took a team that went 7-18 a year prior to an 18-7 mark, a program record to that point.
The Tritons went 22-7 a year later before going 33-3 and reaching the state finals in 1995-96, when Mariner was ranked No. 1 in Florida and No. 16 in the nation.
“I always loved Southwest Florida. It was where my wife (Joanne) and I really began everything,” said Maloney, 58. “I’m excited about being involved with something that I think can be really good for a community.”
Maloney, first invited to Southwest Florida in the late 1980s from a friend in coaching, knows Burnside and other Dunbar staff from his earlier years in Southwest Florida.
“I really feel fortunate that they would consider me,” Maloney said. “They just are good people, and they’re a team. They’re interested in the community.”
Mariner’s 1995-96 team, arguably the best in Lee County history, featured future University of Florida star Dupay as a sophomore, as well as a fleet of future college players.
Those included Mike O’Neil (Colorado State), John Weston (Navy), Ryan Hercek (FIU), Fred Atkins (Lipscomb), Noel West (Mercer) and Robinson Tisme (FGCU).
It was Graham, who went on to star in football at Florida and play nine seasons in the NFL, who contacted Maloney about returning to Southwest Florida.
“He is the closest thing that I have had to a father,” said Graham, 38, the football coach at North Fort Myers the last four years before retiring.
“I’ve been trying to get him since I first got here. I just think he is going to be a great asset to the community. The way he is with kids, it’s special.”
Maloney left Mariner after three seasons to become an assistant coach at Buffalo in 1996-97. He then joined Billy Donovan’s staff at Florida for six seasons, helping the Gators reach the national championship game in 2000 and recruit the second-ranked class in the nation in 2002.
He followed with two years as an assistant and then associate head coach at Eastern Kentucky and three seasons as associate head coach at UMass under Travis Ford.
He returned to Southwest Florida in 2008 to be athletic director at East Lee County High for one year before joining Scott Drew’s staff at Baylor in 2009 as director of operations.
Maloney, who has a master’s degree in counseling and has international coaching experience as well in Europe, China, Turkey and Mexico, has looked at returning to coaching in Southwest Florida in the past.
He applied for the vacant FGCU job in 2011 when the program first became a full member of Division I. Former Florida State assistant Andy Enfield was hired.
He again was recommended by others for the position two years later when Enfield left for Southern Cal, and Joe Dooley eventually was hired from Kansas.
“The kids that are in Southwest Florida are special,” said Maloney, whose wife will join him teaching at Dunbar, and whose son, Thomas, will be a junior next year at Dunbar.
“Anytime you coach any kid, any young people, and they grow up to be the great men they are, it has a great impact on the people that did the teaching and the coaching.”