Monday, July 30, 2007

Remembering Skip Prosser

Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser’s funeral Tuesday evening appropriately is expected to be attended by many of the most influential coaches in college basketball.

Many have stories of Prosser’s wit and good character. Many spent time with him on the recruiting trail in Orlando on Wednesday – one day before he died of a heart attack at age 56.
But some of those who knew him best worked behind the scenes at Wake Forest. Sports information director Dean Buchan – who recently left Wake Forest for Georgia Tech – is one friend outside the spotlight who cared deeply for Prosser.

Buchan remembers Prosser as a family man who would complete his post-game talks with his players and immediately ask for the score of a Bucknell game. His son, Mark, is an assistant coach at Bucknell.

Two specific post-game scenarios always will come to mind when Buchan thinks of Prosser.

The smile on Prosser’s face as he entered the locker room after a 90-80 victory at Wisconsin in 2002-03 is something Buchan never will forget. The win helped solidify the Deacons’ belief in themselves en route to their first outright, first-place ACC finish in 41 years. Buchan described the celebration as a “mosh pit” Prosser was thrilled to join.

After Wake Forest’s captivating, 119-114, triple-overtime victory over North Carolina in 2003-04, Buchan had a rare suggestion for Prosser’s post-game news conference. Buchan suggested that Prosser mention that after the ACC’s 50th anniversary, this was the first game of the next 50 years. And if the next 50 years were going to be played like that, they would be magnificent.

“In Skip fashion he looked at me and said, ‘Are you crazy? I’m not saying anything like that,’ ” Buchan said. “And he went to the press conference and his first statement was exactly what I said.”

One of Buchan’s favorite Prosser-isms illustrated his humility and appreciation for other sports at Wake Forest.

“We’re just trying to build a program our field hockey team can be proud of,” Prosser would say.
Prosser did that – and a whole lot more – in a memorable six-year tenure at Wake Forest.

– Ken Tysiac