"Hectic, crazy, weird, that's for sure, but we're trying to get through it."
Those were the opening comments of a revealing eight minutes or so of conversation between Oklahoma State junior forward Mitchell Solomon and several members of the media that were invited in to speak with the Cowboy starter and one of the OSU players that as soon as a coach is hired will have his third head coach in as many seasons.
"We saw a lot of adversity this year, so in this adversity we're trying to handle it the same way and face it together," said Solomon. "Get to the other side."
Solomon, a 6-9, 245 pound post player from Bixby, Okla., showed tremendous improvement as a player this season and easily had his beat year as a Cowboy averaging 5.4 points and 5.2 rebounds a game. He had become a strong defensive presence in the paint despite often getting into foul trouble. Those are the important facts when it comes to basketball, but as far as losing a coach that he and all of his teammates had bought into solidly. Those facts are fuzzy coming out of a meeting about 12 hours after the team had arrived back in Stillwater from Indianapolis after losing to Michigan in the NCAA Tournament.
"I woke up, not in a great mood, but excited about next year, to get to work on next year," Solomon said when asked to detail his Saturday and how he and his teammates found out. "I came to a meeting that wasn't scheduled until a couple of hours before (pause), got the news, and that was my Saturday. We all figured (the meeting) was going to be about our off season schedule, take a few weeks off and then get back to it. That was not what the meeting was about. The whole thing was about 10 minutes and Underwood was there for about two or three (minutes)."
I was even naive and found out that the Illinois athletic director was on a plane that tailed the Oklahoma State team plane into Stillwater. They were meeting in Underwood's home and that picture that was tweeted out on Saturday of the Underwood and the Illinois A.D. in Illinois Nike garb was taken in front of Underwood's fireplace in his house he was living in Stillwater. Wow!
"It really sucks. It's like losing a family member," Solomon said. "We got really close, really fast and we thought we would be together for awhile."
Solomon admits it really hurt over the weekend and it still does. He does understand the business of college athletics and college coaching, but it still is very tough to take.
"I am starting to look at the future," Solomon said. "We will get through this."