Pat Summitt (Tennessee). Geno Auriemma (Connecticut). Gail Goestenkors (Texas). Mark Lavender (Abilene Christian). Granted, I'm probably not at a point in my career to be mentioned in the same sentence as these great women's college basketball coaches. You see, greatness has to start somewhere. Some achieve fame quicker than others. Some ascend the ranks of coaching immortality faster than others. But for each coach that takes their seat on the bench, there has to be a first time. Just like each of them had to do, I too will "coach" my first game in just over two weeks when the Wildcats travel to San Antonio for a rematch with Incarnate Word.
The ACU Wildcats played easily their best game of the young season last night when they defeated a good Incarnate Word team 68-53 in Moody Coliseum. Many will say that a good week of practice highlighted by the end of the semester and finals week was all the motivation the Wildcats needed to get the victory last night. However, I say that deep down, even if each player didn't realize it, they played with an anticipation and an excitement knowing that the next time they hit the court with Incarnate Word, I would be making my coaching debut.
As for now though, I will take my familiar place behind the wheel of the bus tomorrow morning as we travel to Oklahoma for a couple of games this week. However don't be surprised if December 31, 2008 becomes a date for sports trivia lovers to remember -- the date I, Mark Lavender, began his hall-of-fame coaching career in San Antonio, Texas.
If you're coming to the game, be sure you hang on to your ticket stub. There's no telling how much that will be worth some day! If you can't be there, be sure to tune in to ESPNEWS around 4:00 pm for my press conference. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.