CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It has been two months since Steve Lutz left his role as an assistant coach at Purdue University to take over as Texas A&M-Corpus Christi's head men's basketball coach.
Lutz has taken all the time necessary to rebuild a program that was left looking for players after graduation and transfers. The new coach says he is now getting the ball rolling.
"We finally have enough players to play five on five," Lutz said with a smile.
The team for the upcoming basketball season will look very different than the one trotted out in 2020-2021.
"We're at nine new players and we have three guys returning," added Lutz.
Nine new players - some transfers the others new freshmen on campus - all of whom recruited during the middle of the pandemic.
"Oh now that's definitely a challenge," Lutz explained. "You don't have the chance to have them in for an official visit, you don't have the opportunity other than zoom, facetime or phone call to talk with them."
Lutz and his staff have made it work with a flurry of commitments over the past two months. Now an opportunity opens for players like Myles Smith and Laz Keys, two of the three players who returned to the team from last year.
They have been placed into leadership roles for the Islanders.
"I came in here and everyone bonded on the first day," Keys said.
The change has unifed the team, Smith said.
"It's been a welcoming experience," Smith said. "All the new guys that we have brought in I think they are really good guys. They are here for the right reason and that's to play basketball."
The season is still months away and there's still plenty of time for Lutz and the staff to keep building out their vision of the program.
The players have been living in the gym since day one.
"I think we can do a lot in the Southland (Conference) this year," said Smith. "We are all on the same page."