It was pandemonium in the Boston University men’s basketball locker room: water and Gatorade flying, players jumping around and hugging. Everyone was trying to get a picture with the Patriot League conference tournament trophy, which the Terriers had won for the first time in program history.
That very first title could not have meant more to any other player than Max Mahoney, the 6-foot-8-inch, two-year captain and senior forward. Mahoney had willed BU to the Patriot League title and was named MVP of the tournament, securing the Terriers’ first bid to the NCAA tournament since 2011.
Mahoney and his teammates continued to celebrate on the bus ride back to BU, not knowing the whole sports world would soon turn upside down. The team stepped off the bus to an empty campus, with students on Spring Recess having been told not to return due to the coronavirus pandemic.
At this moment, Mahoney knew his last season was almost certainly at its end.
During the next morning’s team meeting, BU men’s basketball head coach Joe Jones broke the news to his players that the NCAA tournament would likely be cancelled, and their season would come to an abrupt close.
Mahoney said that after hearing this, he and his teammates still gathered in the locker room and glued themselves to their phones, waiting for an official statement from the NCAA.
“We were pretty much sitting in a circle refreshing our Twitter feeds in the locker room just trying to hear some news or any news,” Mahoney said. “But as the cancellations started to pile on, we kind of figured where it was going to end up going.”
Later that day, the NCAA announced all winter and spring championships were cancelled for the remainder of the year, including the men’s basketball tournament. Mahoney’s time at BU was officially at its end.
Despite the sudden termination, Mahoney said his time with the Terrier basketball program was incredibly positive, and that he has learned a great deal about how to fight through adversity during his four years.
“My sophomore and junior year we had some down years,” Mahoney said. “But this year obviously we won [the Patriot League title]. I think it really speaks to how much I’ve grown and matured, as well as our program.”
Throughout his years playing basketball, Mahoney developed into the most offensively and defensively well-rounded player on the BU roster by his senior season, in which he put out the strongest performance of his career. For the 2019-20 season, Mahoney led the Terriers in total points, rebounds, assists and steals, and tied for first in blocks.
Mahoney was the clear leader of the squad, both on and off the court. His leadership skills and work ethic throughout his career have won him high praises from Jones.
“I have absolutely nothing negative to say about this guy. He’s just got the whole package,” Jones said. “He’s someone you can build your program around. I think his greatness is his legacy.”
Prior to his senior year, Mahoney was named to the Patriot League All-Conference third team his sophomore year, and during his junior year was awarded Patriot League All-Conference second team honors and won his first ever Patriot League Player of the Week award.
Despite Mahoney’s personal achievements, he had his share of down moments during his time at BU. One such moment he said sticks out to him was the first time he was benched for a non-injury reason, in a game against Northeastern his freshman year.
Mahoney said the moment disheartened him, prompting him to question whether he had a future with the Terriers.
“I was pretty down in the dumps,” Mahoney said, “even to the point of thinking, ‘Hey, maybe this isn’t for me.’”
But Mahoney rebounded from that juncture and the coaching staff said they always knew he had the potential to be a great player.
“[Mahoney] was going to be one of these guys who figured it out because he had such great character and he’s talented,” Jones said. “He’s willing to listen, he’s willing to learn, he didn’t have an ego.”
Although his senior season was cut short before he could top it off by playing in March Madness, Mahoney stressed that this pandemic is bigger than basketball and that everyone should do their part to help assuage the spread of the virus.
“Obviously with this public health crisis, we’ve got to do what needs to be done,” Mahoney said.
Mahoney will graduate from BU with a degree in business administration and management with a concentration in finance, as well as a minor in psychology.