Hardin-Simmons men's basketball game against Baylor this Saturday will have a financial boost that will be felt all year but the experience the Cowboys on the court will have, will last a lifetime.
”For kids at the division 2 and 3 level, they get excited on the ESPN ticker after they play a division 1 team because they get to see their name up,” HSU head coach Craig Carse told KTXS on Wednesday, “as coaches we aren't always really excited when we see our name up with the score that you often relate to playing a Big 12 team.”
The absence of any delusion regarding this weekend’s result between the D3 and D1 schools stretches all the to the top of HSU’s athletic offices.
”Our alumni, they fully know what the outcome of the game is going to probably be,” athletic director John Neese explained, “but they still get a kick out of seeing our name on ESPN or the Dallas Morning news or other media outlets.”
Coach Carse continued, ”We need to enjoy the experience and put an effort out there that will represent ourselves and our university and our conference in a good way.”
Keeping it close is the expectation every player on Hardin-Simmons has. One player who is in a unique position to speak to the experience is senior guard John Derr. Derr played in the 2009-10 game against Baylor in his very first collegiate contest as a freshman.
”Playing Baylor is a big game. It will be a chance to see where we are four years after playing them that first time.” Derr told KTXS, “the pressure is off for the freshman. They can just go out there and play their hardest. It's very different being in an arena like their arena, it's very nice having a student section like they always have. They’re always rowdy and loud even for little games like us.”
Coach Carse explained that the player impact stretches beyond those already attending the university. ”In recruiting for a young man to get to say, I'm going to get to take a trip to Hawaii or play a quality division 1 opponent, that's an asset.”
”After the game is over, something the athletes always say is this is something that I'll always remember.” AD John Neese explained, “I got to play in a facility like this. It's just one more thing you hope to add to the experience to being an athlete here.”
Keeping the score close would provide a moral and athletic boost to the basketball side of the Cowboy’s season. After all, this regionally televised game will be sandwiched between two relatively more important in-conference games. But for the students on the court, whether this game ‘counts’ or is even close will be secondary to the lasting memories it will no doubt create.