MERRILLVILLE | There was a little laughter. Then, a quick comment from the new boys basketball coach at Merrillville. His name was not a surprise to most.
"No, I will not have a purple jacket," said T.J. Lux, who was formally announced Friday as the new Pirates' coach. The 1995 Merrillville grad will replace Hall of Famer Jim East, who went 522-205 in 31 years off Broadway.
East, who wore a bright purple jacket at big games, was 653-335 in 43 years as a head coach in Indiana.
"Things will be a little different," Lux said at the press conference at the school.
The job was never posted outside the district. Athletic director Janis Qualizza said there were a few internal interviews but not much noise from other coaches in other places. More than likely many knew that Lux, who has been on East's bench the last three seasons, was going to get the job.
"We felt we had our man," Qualizza said.
Lux's name will be submitted to Merrillville's school board for approval on Monday.
"To me this is the best job in the state," Lux said.
The 6-foot-9 standout was on Merrillville's 1995 state runner-up team that lost to Ben Davis by a point. He was named the Trester Award winner for mental attitude and was also an Indiana All-Star.
From there he went to Northern Illinois, where he had a Hall of Fame career. Lux was a three-time Academic All-American and is still Northern's career scoring and rebounding leader. He then played several years of professional ball in Germany and France before returning home.
"No matter where I went I knew I would always return to Merrillville," he said.
Lux will teach half a day at Merrillville's high school. His business in Crown Point, Dlux Evolutionary Personal Training, will also continue to take up hours in his day.
He thanked his wife, Mary, for going along with him in this new chapter of the family's life, along with their two sons, 6-year-old A.J. and 3-year-old Jack.
"We found out this morning," Merrillville junior Edward Seay said. "I expected him to be our coach. He brings a lot to the table. He knows the players on the team already. We already have a chemistry."
Lux didn't hand out too many secrets on what the Pirates' philosophy will be next year, but there were a few hints. One is that Merrillville's offense will likely be opened up a little more to take advantage of the athleticism in the program.
"We will be an aggressive team offensively," Lux said.