MURRAY – Working with men in basketball is nothing new to Sarah Gayler.
For the past two seasons, in fact, Gayler has served in basketball operations for the NBA Milwaukee Bucks, as well as in the Milwaukee Bucks which won the franchise’s second NBA World Championship earlier this year. And yes, his place in that organization gave him the privilege of holding the Larry O’Brien Trophy after the Bucks beat the Phoenix Suns in six games over the summer.
However, other women had previously been involved in NBA franchises. It wasn’t like she was actually the head coach.
Monday night that changed, but not at the NBA level. However, when Gayler led the University of Brescia men’s team in the fight against host Murray State, everyone inside the CFSB Center witnessed the story. Monday was the first time in the history of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, which has been in existence since 1940, that a woman was the head coach of a men’s basketball team, and Murray State took note of the ‘opportunity.
“Once they announced this (in the pre-game presentations) I was a little shocked,” Gayler said after Monday’s game, which ended in an easy Racers 95- victory. 41 in the exhibition game. “You know, it’s an honor (to be the one making the story), but I really didn’t come to the floor thinking that.”
However, she seemed touched by the host school’s efforts to recognize the opportunity.
“It was a great night and I appreciate (local media and Murray State officials) for what you have done for me and our players as well,” she said, noting that she is still in a proverbial whirlwind as she gets used to the surroundings of the Owensboro campus. “It’s only week 5 of me as a new coach (as well as the school’s athletic director) and they have to get used to a new system, and I got there really late.
“I come to campus and I’m like ‘Where’s my team?’ Then I finally started to meet some of the players and it’s like, ‘Hi! My name is Sarah. What role are you playing?’
Murray State Athletic Director Kevin Saal said having the Murray State name as part of this historic achievement should be considered an honor.
“Murray State is delighted to play a small role in honoring coach Gayler and Brescia by establishing an important history in the game of college basketball,” Saal said Tuesday. “Murray State University is honored to welcome Coach Gayler and his Brescia men’s basketball program to the CFSB Center. On behalf of Racer Nation, we wish Coach Gayler, his staff and student-athletes the best for the many seasons to come.
A Murray State team that appears firmly committed to dramatically improving from a disappointing 13-13 season a year ago was probably not the most opportune first game test for the Bearcats and it showed early in the game. . The Racers quickly jumped off starting blocks and hit Brescia with a 12-0 run to open the game.
However, one of the game’s two game-highlights for Brescia quickly followed as the Bearcats recovered and made their own 9-2 to narrow the lead from five.
“The fact that they came back and could have had this tenacity about them even though they were like that, shows that they have that in them. They have that fire,” Gayler said, adding that his team was thrilled to face an established program such as Murray State.
“We had that planned and it was a game the guys were looking forward to playing. I think their nerves pissed them off a bit, but it was a really good experience for them as a group. “
The other momentous moment for the Bearcats came in the later stages when they managed to score 16 points in the final 10 minutes. It also included a moment when Murray State head coach Matt McMahon decided to openly congratulate one of the Bearcats on a solid rebound display as he said “This is how you block!”
“The last crew we had there played really well,” she said. “I think we finished with three freshmen and two sophomores and in the last 10 minutes we executed our attack really well. I was trying to get my starters to carry out the offense all night.
In the Bearcat starters’ defense, however, Murray State was very stingy in defense, allowing Brescia to achieve just 36.2 percent of their shots from the field. The Racers also forced 25 turnovers, which led to 34 points, many of which were on quick breaks.
Gayler said she was very impressed with the Racers. In fact, she countered McMahon’s praise for her team’s rebound with her own glowing comments.
“Murray State does a great job defensively and that’s something I want our own team to emulate,” she said. “We actually do a lot of defensive drills, but I think Murray State showed us another level.
“You are going to do very well this season and I look forward to seeing you in the games.”
After the game McMahon spoke about Gayler’s role in Monday’s game and said it reminded me of another woman who coached basketball in the past.
“You remember growing up in Pat Summitt Country in eastern Tennessee,” McMahon said of former UT star player Martin who became the first male or female coach of the NCAA Division 1 basketball history to reach 1,000 wins. “Don’t you think Pat Summitt could have coached men’s teams and won a lot of games? I guarantee you she could have.
“I think it’s great and I have great admiration for (Gayler), not only as a head coach, but also as a sports director. I can’t imagine the workload there.
“You know, I think sometimes the most dangerous way of thinking is, ‘It’s always been done that way. I think what you find are good players who want to win, when it comes to coaches they respect coaches who work hard, who are committed to making their players play better, who have knowledge depth of the game and who care about their players. the tribunal. I’m excited for her.