Marian Catholic High School coach Mike Taylor hit a magic number this basketball season – 300 victories.
He said he was surprised he’d crossed that threshold when Marian beat Nazareth Academy 55-37 on Jan. 28. It really wasn’t on his mind.
“It’s not something I really keep track of. It just means you’ve been around for a long time,” he joked. “With 300 wins, there’s also been a lot of losses and we’ve learned from both.”
Taylor has coached at Marian the past 17 years. He also coached the football team for 10 years with head football coach, the late Dave Mattio.
Taylor said over those 300 victories he’s had the good fortune to have “a lot of good kids, good players that have really been pretty motivated and that don’t mind challenging themselves.”
Among his standouts are Tyler and Ahron Ulis. “They are responsible for a great many of those (300) wins,” Taylor said.
Tyler went on to play for the University of Kentucky before being drafted by the Phoenix Suns. He is now with the Stockton Kings. His younger brother, Ahron, is a senior at Marian who will play for the University of Iowa next year.
“This year, we’ve had a pretty good season. We’re 18-7 now. It’s been a challenging schedule. I feel this is probably where I thought we would be. We just want to finish strong,” Taylor said. “We’re not real big, but we are quick and we try to rely on that quickness to help us.”
Over his career at Marian the team took third place in state, and went to the Elite 8 twice. Marian’s won a few regionals and two conference championships.
A lack of titles “just shows how good our conference is,” he said.
Basketball is “the idea of building a team. Helping these student athletes become better has always been a challenge and remains a challenge. We always talk to our teams about moving on to the next challenge and not looking back, except to learn from it.”
Taylor says sports was always a part of his life growing up in central Illinois. His dad was a coach and his brother is now a coach in Moline. Taylor played all sports in high school, but didn’t make the basketball team at Illinois State.
After earning a degree in education, Taylor moved to Chicago and taught for several years in the city, as well as at DeLaSalle and Hales Franciscan High Schools before coming to Marian. Working with him as assistant coaches are Ken Ridgway, a teacher at Homewood-Flossmoor High, and Jim Hoffman, who attended Illinois State with Taylor and is retired from the world of business.
Taylor and his wife, Theresa, settled in Homewood and are raising three children. His oldest son, Sean, played for him at Marian. He’s now a junior at Marquette University. His daughter, Ryan, is a junior at Marian and his youngest son, Casey, is a freshman at Marian who aspires to be part of the basketball coaching staff.
“He’s kind of been an assistant coach with us. It’s been fun for me because he’s with us every day and at every game,” Taylor said.
The late coach Dave Mattio’s name originally was misspelled. The Chronicle apologizes for the error.