What an event! If you’ve never been, you must. If you had been in the past, where were you last night? Where else but here at this once a year event can you rub elbows with school administrators, coaches, staff, players and their family members? Not only that but do it with a beer in hand while standing shoulder to shoulder with those that made this year so special. As a fan, you are given this once a year chance to give individual thanks to the players and, in the case of the seniors, wish them well as them embark on their careers. You quickly realize how special these young men are when you stand beside them and listen to them relive their experience on and off the court and end by discussing their dreams of the future. No Number 3 or Number 42, just young men by the names of McCollum (Journalism, his major) and Knutson (aspiring CPA). How great it was to listen to CJ talk of his decision to return to school from a foot away and not read it in a press clipping. And, watch and enjoy the players joke with one another and later listen to the seniors tell tales out-of-school in their farewell speeches. And, witness family pride swell as their sons were called up to the podium to receive either first year letters or special award recognitions. Among the latter, Gabe Knutson was named “Scholar Athlete” and CJ “MVP.” I’ll never forget the smile and Mark Hamilton’s face and the shoulder hug he gave his son, Jordan, as her returned to the table after being presented with the prestigious Coach’s Award. Or, the love Clara Adams has for her son, John, and the sight of Mineri’s near tears as Justin said his goodbyes. As the saying goes, “you just had to be there.” It was like I was being “let in on” something special and meant only for members of the team. But, I was there and like the turnout of fans at Stabler on game nights, more should have been. Come dinner time, we sat where we wanted (last year I had Holden to my right and Coach Reed to my left…this year it was Bill Griffin, Associate Director of Athletics, and BJ Bailey) and enjoyed good food and company. If I had a daughter, I’d want her to end up with a guy like BJ Bailey. What a first class individual. So compassionate. After dinner, we were treated to a 15 minute video highlight reel that chronicled the play of each player on the team. It was truly well done. Hats off to the LU team that put it together. Coach Reed’s closing remarks made it clear how lucky we are to have him as our leader. It was truly a special night.
LUHoops00, due to the proximity of players and family members surrounding Coach Reed at all times, it was not possible or wise I thought to press him to comment on the matter of scholarships. As for scheduling, the Coach made it clear: No one wants any part of us. Rumors – believe well-founded – say a Pomeroy Top 5 team has already said, “no way!” That said, Baylor appears in the bag (expect early November), with Pitt and perhaps one/two others remain highly probable.