For many college basketball coaches, the sheer stress and emotion of a week during the middle of conference play can be enough to send even the slightest over the edge. But not many college basketball coaches would even be able to experience two conference road games preceded by attending the Presidential inauguration of his brother-in-law, all the way across the country.
Meet Oregon State coach Craig Robinson, who is in the process of handling that task.
On Tuesday, Robinson sat in front of millions at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, mere feet away from witnessing history, as his brother-in-law Barack Obama became the first ever African American sworn in as the Commander in Chief. Two days later, Robinson was in the slightly-less recognizable-but-still-politically-active town of Berkeley, this time working his day job in front of a mere 8,236 at Haas Pavilion.
But as many thought it would be an impossible task for his brother-in-law to win the election, many thought it would be just as difficult for the Beavers to march into Berkeley and beat the Bears, a team that was tied for the conference lead heading into Thursday night.
Nevertheless, like his brother-in-law, Robinson's team completed the task at hand, beating Cal 69-65. It didn't come easy.
For a team that was mired by distractions all week, the last thing that Oregon State needed was a reminder of all that had happened for their coach. As soon as Craig Robinson stepped on the floor, the entire Berkeley crowd in attendance stood up and gave a hearty applause, many chanting the famous Obama phrase, "Yes We Can!."
"The reception that the [Cal] students gave me almost choked me up as much as Tuesday did," Robinson said. "Cal students are going to have a spot in my heart. They didn't have to do that. It was a fantastic gesture from a bunch of kids."
But as soon as the emotion died down and the players gathered at center court, one thing became apparent. The Beavers were ready to play. At no expense would the events of that week become apparent that night.
When asked about how his guys handled the distractions of that week well enough to come away with a win, Robinson pointed to one word, "maturity."
"That's what our guys were," he said.
With the Bears up by 11 with 9:37 to go, the Beavers showed that exact Maturity, and even more poise to hold Cal's high-octane offense to a mere three points over the rest of the game. From there on out, they depended of their pressure defense and some clutch offensive plays from forward Roeland Schaftenaar and guard Calvin Haynes to pull out the 69-65 victory.
It was right after the Beavers' victory in which Robinson briefly eased back and reflected on his week.
"The Claremont [Hotel] is nice… but it isn't the Lincoln Bedroom," said Robinson.
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