Less than one month ago, Oklahoma City University sweetened its basketball coaching program at the expense of St. Gregory’s. The perennial NAIA powerhouse enticed St. Gregory’s head coach Kevin Morrissey to accept an assistant post at OCU after serving four years at the Cavalier helm.


Less than one month ago, Oklahoma City University sweetened its basketball coaching program at the expense of St. Gregory’s. The perennial NAIA powerhouse enticed St. Gregory’s head coach Kevin Morrissey to accept an assistant post at OCU after serving four years at the Cavalier helm.
St. Gregory’s returned the favor Tuesday, naming former OCU player and coach John Martin as its head men’s basketball coach.
Martin spent the 1991-1992 season at St. Gregory’s before transferring to Oklahoma City. As a player, he was a member of the 1994 OCU national title squad. Oklahoma City also captured the 1996 national crown as Martin served as a graduate assistant.
Morrissey and Martin have an additional tie. Both are Bishop McGuinness products. Martin was a sophomore on the 1989 Irish state championship team while Morrissey was a freshman.
Martin, 34, has spent the last five years in the high school coaching ranks. For the past three years, he was the head coach at Moore. The previous two years, he was the main man at Oklahoma City John Marshall. The Bears, fueled by talented J.R. Giddens, earned the 2003 Class 5A state title. Giddens began his college career at Kansas, then finished up this past season at New Mexico.
“I’m very excited to have the opportunity to be the next men’s basketball coach at St. Gregory’s,” said Martin, who played for current SGU Athletic Director Don Sumner in the 1991-92 season. “It’s an honor to work with coach Sumner and continue the tradition he started a few years back.”
Martin also spent two seasons (1997-98) as an assistant coach at NCAA, Division 1 University of Maryland Eastern Shore and five years as an assistant at Carl Albert State College.
“We’re really glad to have John back at St. Gregory’s,” Sumner said. “He’s played and coached on state championship teams at the high school level. He has also played and coached on national championship teams at the NAIA level. He’s well equipped to handle the job.”
On the defensive end, Martin would prefer an up-tempo, man-to-man pressure. “I like to press a little, give some different looks, but basically I like man-to-man defense,” he said. “At Moore, competing in the Mid-State Conference, we had to run some zone and some box-and-one to keep defenses guessing.
“I also like a motion offense versus sets. It involves more defensive reads and relying on a player’s intelligence. You try to teach guys how to read screens and defenses.”
At OCU, as both a player and coach, Martin was part of a perennial national power.
At St. Gregory’s, Martin becomes part of a program that has struggled to move out of the bottom echelon of the SAC.
How does he perceive his task?
“I want the challenge and players want to play against the best,” he said. “This has been the best NAIA basketball conference in the country for at least the last 20 years. I know it’s a tough road because I really believe the coaches in the Sooner Athletic Conference are the best NAIA coaches in the country. Having that challenge is something I’m looking forward to. I am moving from an exceptional high school basketball conference to the best NAIA conference in the country.”
Martin and his wife, Dianne, have been married for three years and have two daughters: Sophia (2) and Grace (1).