NCAA Tournament Blog: What a journey

Sophie McDonald
Sports Editor

 

Here we are. Elizabeth and I are sitting in the hotel room of the Galt House after a night of surprising upsets in the tournament and

Sophie McDonald and Coach Prohm

I’m trying to process everything that has happened with the Racers this season. So, I’m doing what I do every time I need to process something: write.

Looking back over this season of basketball my mind can’t quite comprehend the enormity of what has taken place. Athletic Director Allen Ward shared the same thought when I spoke to him in his office last week.

“Our fans, I hope they realize what they’ve seen,” Ward said. “Sometimes you have to take a couple years and take a step back from it and say ‘Wow,’ because we’re all in the moment right now and it’s remarkable and I thank (the team) for how hard they have worked and everything they’ve done for our program because they have left a lasting stamp on our program.”

Donte Poole and Sophie McDonald

At the end of this season, the seniors, Ivan Aska, Jewuan Long and Donte Poole, will graduate as the most winningest class in program history and Steve Prohm will go down in history as one of the greatest head coaches Murray State has ever had the honor to call their own.

The team I love so much has rewritten record after record and exceeded every expectation placed on them and I hope and pray it continues for many more games in this tournament.

Before the season started and I had my first interview with Coach Prohm I wasn’t convinced I should cover men’s basketball for The News, even though I was a big fan of Coach Prohm’s from the first time we met. Murray State Sports Information Director Dave Winder convinced me to write about basketball and after one pre-season interview with the team I was 100 percent excited about telling the untold stories of the team with the greatest tradition in the Ohio Valley Conference.

However, I had no idea what was in store for this season. Only God knew the history this team would make and the impact it would have on our little community, state and, yes, nation. From Ed Daniel’s hair to last second victories to forever holding the title of the last unbeaten, this team has shown character and composure and Coach Prohm has exuded grace and integrity as they have handled more media attention than they ever believed they would.

Seeing this team on an almost daily basis I can tell you each of them is the real deal. The love they have for each other and for

Sophie McDonald and Dave Winder

Coach Prohm and the love he has for them is beautiful and something I wish every team could experience.

“(Coach Prohm) is the one who recruited me out of high school and we’ve been through a lot together,” Long said. “When things wasn’t going good for me here and wasn’t going my way, he was the one that talked to me to see if I was OK and when he became the head coach you could tell he wanted the best for every body. He treated you like he’s known you his whole life and when you have a coach like that you don’t want to do anything but make him look good and wish the best for everything he could do.”

The feeling is definitely mutual and anyone who has watched the Racers this season can see the obvious love he has for the team. He tears up in interviews talking about them, he honors the seniors twice during senior night and he will defend them on the court all the way to a technical if he has to. The love is real and so is the history they’ve made because of it.

Team prayer before practice.

I don’t know when everything about this season will sink in but I’m trying to appreciate every moment and take nothing for granted, but that’s not the easiest thing to do, especially when you’re so emotionally invested in the team. After interviewing UK players in their locker room after their win over Western Kentucky Thursday night, my love for the Racers intensified – UK players are lifeless and unemotional during interviews and made me appreciate the professional but laid back team I am proud to call my own.

I have my own opinions of why this team is successful; I can see God’s hand and sweet grace all over this team and their success but I think Coach Prohm said it best and I’ll leave it to him to do so:

“God’s blessed me,” Prohm said. “God’s blessed this program, this team. It’s been an unbelievable journey, just from the whole onset.”

That it has and we’ve been blessed enough to be a part of it. What a journey – and it’s not over yet.