Nearly 20 years ago, new Scarborough boys’ basketball coach Dan Costigan inherited a freshman player by the name of Matt Richards. Richards would eventually become the Redskins’ starting point guard, absorbing every facet of the game from his coach, while exhibiting the intelligence that would lead to his own gig years later.
Fast forward to the present and now, a not-so-surprising reunion.
Last month, Richards, now the men’s basketball coach and athletic director at Southern Maine Community College, announced that Costigan was joining his staff.
“He’s going to be my top assistant,” Richards said. “I’m looking for him, especially on
game day. He’s been on the sidelines and has made decisions. He’ll be
very valuable. He’s an outstanding
instructor in the skill of the game. There’s a lot of good ones out
there, but in my opinion, he’s number one. In practices, our level of
play will get better because he’ll work the players to a very high
level. He’ll also have an impact on recruiting. To have the experience
he’s had and have the connections he has, will only benefit us.”
Since the two parted in the early 1990s, Costigan went on to serve as the men’s coach at the University of Southern Maine and most recently as an assistant to Bob Brown with the Cheverus boys’ program, where he starred as a player.
Richards, meanwhile, graduated from Colby-Sawyer College and took over at SMCC in 2003. Richards quickly transformed the men’s basketball program into a national power at the same time the school exploded in popularity.
“As we’ve become more competitive and as we’ve developed this program, I
think it’s become a destination spot,” Richards said. “(Costigan) wanting to come in says a lot
about the program.”
Costigan, a South Portland resident, said that several factors led him to make the move.
“For me, it’ll be a good change,” said Costigan. “I had a great time at Cheverus. It was
a great experience. Brownie’s a great teacher of the game. He’s been a
mentor of mine forever and he’s a very good friend.
“This is a great
opportunity. This place is going in great directions. It’ll be fun to
be part of it. I’ve known Matt forever. I’ll have three nephews (Coleman Findlay, Matt Findlay and Matt
Foster) on the team. I live two miles away. It’s an easy thing for me
to do and I look forward to it.
I want to help Matt however I can. Whatever he deems that to be. I’ve
been around the game a long time. There’s some conditioning stuff and
skills stuff I like to do. He’s my boss. I’ll do what he wants me to
do. It’ll be easy for us to be on the same page. It will be an easy
The two formed a bond at Scarborough and have stayed close through the years.
“He got the Scarborough job when I was a freshman,” Richards said. “He was younger then,
full of energy and liked to let his point guard know that. For me, as a
player, he was the perfect coach. I was an average player, but he was
fiery and demanded a lot. He taught work ethic. I picked it up and I
think that’s how I played. I think I used that to play in college and
used it in my coaching experience. For me, he was the perfect mentor at
that time in my life.
“When I got the job here, he was a great sounding board. He took the job at Cheverus. He was just always around. He’s my former coach. He’s a secondary person I could go to. I told him any time he was ready to come back to the college ranks, there was a spot for him.”
Costigan isn’t the least bit surprised that Richards has enjoyed success.
“Matt was a coach on the floor,” Costigan said. “He
was a tough competitor. He was a smart, heady player, a very tough,
hard-nosed guy. Tough as nails. That’s what separated him. Roughly 20
years later, he’s a coach and it’s not surprising. He does a great job with the men’s program and running the athletic program in general.”
SMCC is gearing up for a new season, which officially starts Oct. 1. While Richards is now running the show and Costigan is the dutiful lieutenant, don’t be surprised if the latter pushes the envelope now and then.
“(Richards) was a pain in the neck for me for four years and now it’s payback,” said Costigan.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com