Odds are, nobody at Cal State Fullerton was quite ready to get back to playing basketball yet.
Women’s basketball assistant coach Monica Quan and her fiance were murdered just six days prior to Saturday’s home game against UC-Riverside, and the feelings in the building were still very raw. The game could likely have been canceled. Nobody would have blamed the Fullerton family for taking a little while longer to grieve. But the t-shirts the young women wore pointed to another way of honoring the fallen coach. They said “it is the courage to continue that counts.”
It’s a concept that coaches teach athletes: that fatigue and pain can be endured and overcome. That they must be overcome, on and off the court. A pretty tough thing to live up to in a situation like this.
Fullerton guard Alex Thomas lapsed into the present tense when she attempted to describe how Quan would have reacted to the understandable 64-45 loss the Titans suffered in their first game back after the tragedy:
“She’s way big on the little things and the details,” Thomas told the Associated Press. “And today we didn’t really take of the details the way we know we should have. She would have been proud of our effort, proud of us coming out and being there and trying to stay focused. But she definitely would have wanted us to pay attention to the little things more.”
Getting up and getting going again is part of the stage of grief called “acceptance,” and it’s probably a little too soon for that in this case. Fullerton head coach Marcia Foster confirmed that everyone in the locker room was still somewhat in shock. “I don’t think anybody feels like they’re healing right now. We feel like we’re just getting through.”
College Basketball Talk salutes the Fullerton basketball community. Win or lose, the Titans are honoring someone they loved and lost by playing the game she taught them to play. Sometimes that’s all you can do.
With an 11-member setup the Sun Belt Conference has played a 20-game conference schedule the last couple of years, which may be seen as a positive when it comes to determining the regular season champion (home-and-home between every team). But for a conference that spans from North Carolina (Appalachian State) to Texas (UT-Arlington, Texas State) travel was far from easy in that setup.
And with Coastal Carolina joining next season, it was clear that the league needed to do something with its scheduling.
Thursday the Sun Belt members approved an 18-game conference schedule, which will begin with the 2016-17 season when the league consists of 12 members. Included in the agreement is the assignment of travel partners (similar to setups in the Pac-12 and Ivy League), and teams playing no more than three consecutive conference games on the road.
Schools will also be guaranteed at least five weekend home games during conference play, and there will be no more weekends in which teams play conference games both home and away (thus cutting down on travel). Obviously with the addition of Coastal Carolina the Sun Belt needed to make some changes in their scheduling, and this week the conference made the moves they needed to make.
Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.
Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.
“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”
While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.