By Tracy Schultz
Samantha Morrow is rather fond of her shoes. It doesn't matter what kind. Morrow, UT-Arlington's head coach, simply doesn't want to be without them.
"I hate being barefoot," Morrow said.
But that didn't stop her from slipping off the shoes and stepping on the court along with Lamar coach Larry Tidwell. Both coaches guided their teams with bare feet on Wednesday to support Samaritan's feet, a non-profit organization that distributes shoes to impoverished children throughout the world. Fans also brought shoes to donate.
For Morrow, the decision to go barefoot, provided a chance to fit in a pedicure before the game, was sporting midnight blue toes with her grey pantsuit. Tidwell opted to forego the polish. Morrow was far from blue after the game, though. Her Mavericks pulled off a 66-58 win that put them in a tie for first place with UT-San Antonio in the Southland Conference. UTA holds the tiebreaker.
Despite their finish, the Mavericks have already clinched a bid to the SLC Tournament. They scored an even bigger victory earlier this month when the UT Board of Regents voted to provide a new special events center. It will replace their current home, Texas Hall, which was named by Sports Illustrated as one of the best places watch a college basketball game. It's certainly one of the most unusual since the court is on the stage, which also features theatre productions.
When it came to answering questions about it all, Morrow put her polished feet forward.
On the all-important color choice ...
Well, our colors are blue and orange. They had blue and orange, but the midnight blue was little darker and a little tougher looking than the orange.
On being barefoot ...
I hate it. I don't know why. Everybody figures it wouldn't bother me. They think since I grew up in the country, we all ran around barefoot all the time. But we had stickers and rocks in the yard. You needed shoes. Once I was out there, it didn't bother me though. It was the walk from the locker room and going down the hallway that I didn't like. The floor was smooth. But I didn't even notice I was barefoot during the game.
Her players' reaction ...
I told them ahead of time because I wanted to make sure they understood the cause. I also didn't want them distracted. I didn't want anybody saying, "Well we lost because you weren't wearing any shoes." The kids laughed at me a little early, but they got into it. They brought old shoes to give. It was good. Any time you can help people less fortunate than you, it's great."
On leading the SLC and locking down a conference tournament bid ...
Having a bid is nice, but you can't relax just because you're sitting in first place. We've still got to play three games. The way we play, we have to take every one of them very seriously. But it's better for recruiting and for our kids. You win your conference, you want to think it's better. You hope it's one step closer to winning your tournament.
On having a new home court ...
It's state of the art, everything we wanted and more. It's way overdo. I think a lot of people didn't think it would happen because they'd heard about it for so long., but they're not holding anything back. I don't know of one in the area nicer than this. Hopefully, it will help our recruiting. A lot of people say, "Don't go there. They play on a stage." It will all change.