Marty Hull looked out from behind the podium during his formal introduction Monday morning and saw familiar faces of the young men who will now call him their leader.
The new Hannibal High School basketball coach has a history with the program that began with a five-year stint as an assistant coach until 2005.
Since then, Hull, who will assume the role of assistant principal at Hannibal Middle School this year, has been a regular supporter of the Pirates and watched many home games from the stands.
"I've known Korf Gym almost my whole teaching career here," Hull said. "(My family) has spent tons and tons of time here. I'm very comfortable. It's home."
Hull enters his second job as a head coach after leading Western High School (IL) from 2008-2010. In his first season there, the Wildcats went 24-8 and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the state tournament.
While it's been seven years since Hull last was the man in charge of a high school team, he said his desire to coach has never waned.
"I've always had the basketball itch," he said. "This is my 16th year of teaching, and I've coached something for probably 10 years. The thing is, I've never lost basketball."
Hull first made waves in the game as an all-state standout at West Pike (IL) High School, which he led to third place in the Class A state tournament in 1995.
After scoring more than 2,000 points in his prep career, Hull played four years for Quincy University.
Hull started his education career with eight years as a Hannibal Middle School science teacher. He then crossed the river for his stint at Western (IL) before spending several years as an administrator in the Ralls County R-II district. He returned to Hannibal in 2016 as the principal of Eugene Field Elementary.
Hull's background as a coach also includes time coaching basketball and football at the middle school level in Hannibal as well as a stint as a Mark Twain High School boys basketball assistant.
His wife, Audra, is an elementary physical education teacher in Hannibal and has been a longtime girls basketball coach for the district.
Hull takes the place of Doug Coleman, who the district placed on paid administrative leave Feb. 9 with only five games remaining in the squad's regular season schedule. Sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed there was locker room fight between players two days earlier after a 92-65 road loss at Boonville.
Travis Ruppel closed out the rest of the season as the interim coach of the Pirates, which finished 9-17 and was knocked out in the second round of the Class 4 District 8 tournament.
The district believes Hull can bring stability to a program that hasn't had a winning campaign since 2013-2014.
"He's a Hannibal guy," Hannibal athletic director Clint Graham said. "We know he's going to be here. We're trying to build stability with the program, and that's what we brings. He brings passion about basketball and he brings stability.
"We're hoping he gets the excitement back with the program and gets kids excited, and I know families in the Hannibal community speak highly of coach Hull and are excited he's onboard now."
Hull spoke for five minutes Monday to about 20 to 25 of his new players. Aside from explaining his background and taking time for questions, he outlined the style of basketball he wants his team to play.
"It will be an up-tempo type team," Hull said. "It will be fast-break, get the rebound and go. Whoever the point guard is, whether it's Dezi (Jones), Preston (Bennett), whoever, we're going to find that point guard and get out and run, pitch it ahead, try to penetrate and get a layup as fast as you can.
Hull added that his team will not shy away from running press defense and told his squad he expects the varsity roster to run as many as 10 players deep.
"I think it will be an exciting brand of basketball to watch," he said.
This summer, Hull will get his first opportunity to hold practices and put his squad to the test at exhibition tournaments.
The new coach said he wants to build the team into a consistent winner and trusts he has the pieces in place to make that happen.
"If you look at all the successful Hannibal programs, all of them have the same thing," he said. "They have a coach that's been there. … With my basketball background, I want to pass my knowledge on to the Hannibal community kids."