Wake Forest assistants coaching through grief at Prosser's youth camp in late coach's honor Print
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Monday, 30 July 2007 12:59
NCAAB Headline News


 WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -The basketball camp that bears Skip Prosser's name at Wake Forest went on as scheduled Monday, with nearly 200 young players shooting hoops and learning fundamentals.
This was supposed to have been a week for Prosser to teach there. Now, after his death of an apparent heart attack, his grieving assistants are carrying on, conducting the camp in his memory and determined to heal their aching hearts on the hardwood.
``I can't speak for anybody else, but it's outstanding for myself, and it's really therapeutic,'' director of basketball operations Mike Muse said Monday. ``The best place for a coach to be in tough times is in the gym, and to be with kids that give you life and energy and are pretty resilient is a wonderful thing.''
Prosser, who worked his way up from coaching at one of the smallest high schools in West Virginia to lead the Demon Deacons to the school's first No. 1 national ranking in 2004-05, died last Thursday after returning from his noon jog at the age of 56. Muse was the one who found him unresponsive and slumped on his office couch, and he performed CPR before medical personnel arrived.
Muse, who requested that comments about his attempt to save Prosser's life and other personal details not be released until after Tuesday's funeral service, said his widow urged the coaches not to cancel the camp.
``I thought it was the best - and his wife, Nancy, just was insistent that if we could carry it out, she would like for it to go on. So, we're going on,'' Muse said. ``She doesn't want to make it a weeklong memorial, and we're not going to do that. We're going to teach basketball, teach about life and all the lessons that we normally teach.''
The camp got off to a subdued start before associate head coach Dino Gaudio began by telling the players that Prosser would have wanted it to go on without him, Muse said. Assistant Jeff Battle introduced the roster of instructors. Another coach, Pat Kelsey, led stretching exercises for the campers and was ``firing them up during the day,'' Muse said.
``You hear (campers) every now and then mention Skip Prosser's name, and the memories that they had with him here at camp,'' he said. ``You can tell they know what's going on.''
A steady stream of former Demon Deacons - including NBA star Chris Paul and Kyle Visser, last season's leading scorer - is expected back in Winston-Salem to help with camp and help Wake Forest heal, a process Muse said was aided during a team dinner the day after Prosser died and during meetings in which ``Skip-isms'' were traded and smiles were shared.
``When you get to the point where you remember the good times, the grief tends to subside,'' he said.
The team still is trying to come to grips with the death of its coach. Players have been off-limits to reporters here since Prosser died.
``All the players couldn't believe it, like it was a bad dream, that we were just hoping we could wake up,'' backup David Weaver told the Asheville Citizen-Times.
The Demon Deacons attended Prosser's visitation as a team Monday, with players hugging the coaches' family members at the tear-filled Catholic church in nearby Clemmons.
``We look at them, and they're 6-8, 6-9, big bodies. We forget that they're still youth,'' Muse said. ``As much a father figure as coach Prosser was to some of these guys, and as much as he believed in them as players first and also as (people), it was tough, but they're resilient. We just believe out of tragedy, there's going to come greatness.''
Among the big names attending the visitation was Arizona State coach Herb Sendek, who was one of Prosser's Tobacco Road rivals while at North Carolina State. Televisions at the church showed replays of some of Prosser's biggest victories - including one in 2003 when Paul led Wake Forest to a 119-114 triple-overtime thriller against North Carolina that's regarded as one of the best games in ACC history.
``Not just Wake Forest people loved Skip, everybody loved Skip,'' Muse said. ``They may have criticized his coaching, but they'll never criticize his values or his character.''
 

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