What a Team, What a Trip, What a Season
By Doug Carroll
The season may be over, but these impressions remain of the three-game run by our women’s basketball team at the NCAA Division II West Regional in Pomona, Calif.:
It doesn’t get any better than this. Monday night’s championship game between GCU and Cal Poly Pomona had it all: well-coached teams, enthusiastic and loud fan sections, and scholar-athletes who represent what’s right about college sports. Much was made of the matchup between Pomona’s Reyana Colson and our Samantha Murphy, mainly because Colson had won West Region Player of the Year honors over Murphy. Colson scored 28 points, Murphy 24. Colson, from Compton, Calif., is an accounting major and, like Murphy, an Academic All-American. You know that TV spot about most NCAA athletes turning pro in something other than their sport? These two will be all-pros, the best of the best.
Roz’s last stand. No one except the Antelopes’ Rosalyn Nelson really knows how difficult it was for her to come back from a debilitating knee injury two years ago to play a fourth and final season. Without Nelson at point guard, the ’Lopes would have been good this season. But with her, they were great. Never mind the funky-looking jump shot. She’s a gamer, she was the glue and she will be missed.
The Black Hole breaks through. All season, senior Dan Ballenger poured his heart and soul into the student cheering section, hoping that GCU would have its own version of Duke University’s Cameron Crazies. He admits he might have aimed a little high, but his efforts paid off in Pomona. Our students brought the noise, and there was plenty of clever material at Saturday’s game against Cal State Monterey Bay (the Otters). Maybe you had to be there, but the cheer of “Otter Pops!” during free throws was so stupid it was hilarious. Well done, Dan.
May’s way. It was mere minutes before tip-off to the most important game of his coaching career, and there was Trent May, thanking people individually for coming over to California to support the team. Don’t get this wrong: May is plenty serious about his job as the Antelopes’ head coach. But relationships are even more important to him, and the touch of class under pressure didn’t go unnoticed. We’re lucky to have this guy.
The final frame. Outside Kellogg Gym after Monday night’s defeat, Antelope fans waited to both console (tough loss) and congratulate (terrific season). Finally, a red-eyed Samantha Murphy emerged from the locker room and collapsed into the arms of her parents, Bill and Maria Murphy. If you were there, you had a lump in your throat. And here’s a parting thought: Why waste any time? At Homecoming next season in the new Arena, hoist No. 20 to the rafters and be done with it. There won’t be another one like her for a long, long time.
Reach Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.