This week the Saint Martin’s University men’s basketball team will conclude their season with two homes games this Thursday and Saturday. Along with the final games of the season, it will also be the final time five Saints will play at Marcus Pavilion as a member of the team. This year’s seniors include a rather interesting group of guys because of their backgrounds and how they became Saints. Here are my firsthand accounts of these four other guys, where I hope to give a little behind the scenes look at who they are and how they have been as teammates.
Let’s start with the man I know best on the team, Matt Dodson. Matt and I have been not only teammates for five years, but we have been roommates as well. During this span, I have seen Matt develop not only on the court but off the court as well. Even with some injuries along the way, he has developed into a solid post in the conference and has been with me every step of the way. Thinking back over our time together, I have a ton of memories that stand out that are quite funny. I’ve basically been by Matt’s side every day for the last five years and one of my favorite times with Matt was up at Anchorage last season when I got to play with him and former Saint Eric Taylor. The three of us had been roommates for two years and friends since the day we all met on campus in August of 2009. During our time together, this was the only time that all three of us were on the court at the same time and the only time Matt ever made a three-pointer in a game. Although everyone in the gym that night saw his foot over the line, the refs happened to miss it and he still claims to this day to never have missed a three in his career.
The second senior is Rei Jensen who transferred from Mount Hood Community College two years ago. Rei is one of the easiest guys I have ever met to get along with, which is probably why he has developed into one of my best friends on the team during his time here as a Saint. Something that comes to mind when I think of Rei is all the times we spent shooting together before practice. Last season we would always start practice with a simple shooting drill and Rei and I were always partners. During this time, Rei and I developed a strong bond and still continue to shoot with one another before practice. The story that first comes to mind involving Rei happened last week in Fairbanks, Alaska. We got our keys to the hotel and I was supposed to be rooming with Riley Carel, but Riley wanted to room with Lucas Shannon. So I traded with Lucas and was with Evan Coulter, but Rei wanted to room with me and he was with Tyler Idowu. I didn’t really care who I was with but Rei told Evan he would trade him roommates so he could be with me. Instead of telling him he was rooming with Tyler, he said he was with Ryan Rogers and Evan agreed. When Evan got to his room, he finally realized the scheme and saw he wasn’t rooming with Ryan. To an outsider it might not be that funny, but to us it was hilarious because of the vast differences between rooming with Tyler and Ryan.
Next up, Brad Norman. I won’t give too much background about Brad because I already did a 20 questions article about him earlier in the season, but I will say that playing with Brad over the past four years has been a pleasure. Brad is one of the hardest working guys I have ever been on the court with and I don’t think anyone has ever questioned his effort. I’ve never seen Brad slack off in anything and I think he has developed a reputation as one of the best teammates in the Saints program. What I will miss most about Brad are his quick one-liners and random movie quotes he throws out. I have never met someone who can come up with so many funny things out of nowhere that can make an entire team laugh almost every time.
The final senior is Evan Coulter who transferred to SMU from Whatcom Community College two years ago. I didn’t know Evan all that well last year but this season we have spent a lot of time together on the court. This is mostly because we guard one another every day at practice. When the plays stop at practice, Evan and I are usually talking about something; whether it’s a good move he just made, or making fun of something funny someone just did, we are always talking. If I think back I can recall the first time I met Evan at a summer game up at Bellevue Community College. He undoubtedly had the best beard I have ever seen and it looked exactly like James Harden’s who plays professionally for the Oklahoma City Thunder. So after I saw him play all I could think was “Not only does this guy have a sweet beard, but he is good too!” Much like Brad, Evan is also one of the hardest working guys I have ever played with. Evan's personality is also great because he is able to go from intense to calm faster than anyone, which makes him a good guy to be around.
With these little tid-bits in mind I hope everyone is able to understand the type of bond that the basketball team has. I think one thing that tends to be overlooked with sports in college is the relationships that we as teammates build because that is one aspect of the game you can really never get back. We might have all come from different areas of the Northwest, but we all cam here for a common goal and developed a friendship along the way. You can always join a city league team, or go shoot out in the drive way, but most people will never be able to experience being on the road for five days with 12 other guys in places like Hawaii, Montana, or California just to name few. Of course the things that happen on the court are great, but the time we spend off the court was just as important.
With two more games left in the career of these four guys and myself, I know I can speak for all of them when I say it has been fun playing with one another and we can walk away with memories that will last a lifetime.