While the average college basketball fan doesn’t tend to pay a great deal of attention to team managers, the fact of the matter is that those students play an integral role in the success of a program.
More than simply the undergrad who hands out towels and sports drinks to fatigued players, student managers have a number of responsibilities that if left unattended to can grow into bigger issues down the line.
Star player looking to snap out a shooting slump? Chances are there’s a manager chasing down the player’s shots during late-night shooting sessions.
And managers can even serve as a source of inspiration for a program, as is the case for Wisconsin student manager Matt Meinholz. Meinholz is a cancer survivor, and upon hearing the young man tell his story at the Coaches vs. Cancer Wisconsin Gala in the spring of 2012 Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan pledged to help Meinholz accomplish his goal of being a manager for the Badger program.
By that point, Meinholz was doing much better and mentioned he’d like to be a manager for the Badgers. Ryan’s response: “Get through this, and if you want to be a part of this, I’ll make it happen.”
Meinholz attended UW-La Crosse as a freshman but applied for a transfer to UW. His application included a letter of recommendation from Ryan.
“He’s the most genuine person I’ve ever met,” Marv Meinholz said of Ryan, who was as happy as anyone to receive the news in late spring that Matt had been accepted at UW. “The way he’s embraced Matt, I’m just in awe.”
According to Jim Polzin of the Wisconsin State Journal there are still some health issues related to the cancer that Meinholz must navigate, with the chemotherapy sessions causing nerve damage that has affected his stamina and strength, but that hasn’t sapped his enthusiasm for the job in any way.
And with cancer beaten, Meinholz has embraced the fact that he can be an inspiration to others who are looking to defeat the disease.
“My personal battle may be over, but I just want to keep fighting and helping other people get through theirs because I definitely had a lot of support through mine,” he said.
“One of the things that makes me the most proud about coming back to manage is being able to have kids know about this happening and just know that I went to college after cancer. When kids have cancer, I don’t want them to feel like the rest of their life has to change. You can still go out and do what you want to do. Don’t let cancer hold you back from anything. You can go achieve whatever you want to achieve. I want other kids who have cancer to go out and fulfill their dreams.”
After over 20 inches of rain fell over three days and over 60,000 homes were damaged in southeastern Louisiana, New Orleans coach Mark Slessinger called his acquaintance, John Derenbecker, in the area to check in. Derenbecker and his family were fine, Slessinger learned, but many in the area were not.
“I told (Derenbecker) to figure out who needed the help the most,” Slessinger told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “that I had my whole crew who could come help out on Saturday and Sunday.”
That led Slessinger and his team to the home of an elderly couple, Elbert and Ione Norred, whose house was ravaged by over four feet of flood water. The Privateers helped slog out debris, cut away wet insulation and whatever else needed removing from the soaked home.
“I appreciate everything you have done,” Ione Elbert told the Privateers. “Nobody knows how long it would have taken us to have done this.”
The Red Cross estimates that the relief effort for the flooding could cost upwards of $30 million in the region. To make a donation to the organization call 1-800-RED CROSS.
UNO’s baseball team also got in on the aid effort, heading to Baton Rouge over the weekend.
“We are proud to see our student-athletes, coaches and staff serve our fellow Louisianians in their time of need,” UNO Director of Athletics Derek Morel said in a statement. “The men and women of our program understand the importance of serving others and using our resources to help those in less-fortunate situations. We will continue to play for neighbors.”
Rutgers land 7-foot grad transfer from UNC Wilmington
Rutgers landed a commitment from seven-footer C.J. Gettys on Monday night.
Gettys is a graduate transfer from UNC-Wilmington, where he averaged 5.3 points, 5.1 boards and 1.4 blocks for a team that reached the NCAA tournament. Gettys is a slow-footed back-to-the-basket player, however, and that didn’t exactly fit with the way that UNCW head coach Kevin Keatts likes to play; think Shaka Smart’s VCU teams.
So Gettys opted for Rutgers, picking the Scarlet Knights over Dayton, Purdue and Chattanooga.
He is the fifth member of new head coach Steve Pikiell’s first recruiting class.
A Philadelphia basketball legend and a former National Player of the Year passed away on Monday night.
Michael Brooks, a 6-foot-7 forward who was named the NABC National Player of the Year in 1980, died in Switzerland on Monday night due to a massive stroke, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
He was just 58 years old.
Brooks finished his career with 2,628 points and 1,372 rebounds. He never averaged less than 20 points in his four seasons in college. (Think about that for a second.) He was the No. 9 pick in the 1980 NBA Draft and averaged double-figures for four years before season-ending knee injuries sent him to Europe to play. Brooks was also named the captain of the 1980 Olympic team that missed out on the Moscow games due to the USA’s boycott.
Brooks, according to the Inquirer, had aplastic anemia, which required him to receive a bone marrow transplant last week. His body rejected the marrow, which resulted in the strokes that ended his life.
UCLA, who will be the most interesting team in all of college basketball this season, played their first game of an Australian tour on Tuesday morning, and they won in pretty impressive fashion.
The Bruins had triple digits on the board early in the fourth quarter, eventually beating a club in Sydney by the score of 123-76. For comparison’s sake, Washington and potential No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz beat the same team 101-80 a couple of weeks ago, so the win and the margin of victory is somewhat impressive.
Also worth noting: None of UCLA’s freshmen started. Steve Alford rolled with Aaron Holiday, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton on the perimeter — Holiday and Hamilton combined for 27 points, 18 assists and 11 boards while Alford had 17 points on just 10 shots — with G.G. Golomon and Thomas Welsh up front.
But the noteworthy performances here were from the McDonald’s All-Americans that Steve Alford brought into the program. In his first game in the blue and gold, Lonzo Ball, a potential top ten pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, was just OK. He finished with nine points and four assists while shooting 3-for-9 from the floor. Leaf, however, was terrific, as he led the team with 21 points to go along with nine boards and three assists.
The first exhibition game is hardly a great way to predict how a season is going to play out, but given the pressure and expectations currently surrounding the program, everything the Bruins do this season is going to be scrutinized.