OK Steve Green: which feels better, being a player on an unbeaten high school state championship team or being the coach on an unbeaten NJCAA national championship squad?
"They are two totally different feelings," Green said by phone Monday night. "When you are playing, you don't have the anxiety as a player that you do as a coach. You are more in control as a player. They both feel great. They were both special during their time."
Green, a member of Miami High School's unbeaten Class 3A state champs in 1972, coached South Plains (Texas) College to an NJCAA men's title Saturday night in Hutchinson, Kan.
His Texans rolled to an 81-68 victory over Northwest Florida, finishing the season at 36-0.
They blew two double-digit leads, but held the lead for all but a minute of the contest.
A trey from well outside the arc at the top of the key by sophomore guard Marshall Henderson with 1:48 remaining proved to be the back-breaker for South Plains.
In addition to having mom and dad on hand (Cletus and Carolyn Green), Don Overton – who was the Wardogs coach in '72 – and a pair of MHS classmates were on hand in Hutchinson.
"That sure helped get through the week," Steve Green said. "It helped lighten up what was going on."
"We have some really good players," Green said. "This Texas league (the Western Junior College Athletic Conference), even though its known for football, we probably have the best junior college basketball in the nation. The last six or seven years, a team from our conference has played for the national championship."
Green said one of his players would be transferring to Ole Miss, one to Texas-Arlington and another is expected to sign with North Carolina Central.
Three others will end up going to universities as well, Green said.
"We average five or six kids a year leaving and going off to play Division I basketball," Green said.
The Texan roster even includes one Oklahoman - freshman guard Devonte Smith of Oklahoma City Douglass. Smith had nine points in the victory.
The title was the second for South Plains in Green's 12-year tenure. Howard, Texas, and Midland, Texas, each have won it once.
Midland has lost twice in the championship game during that time.
"It's a great situation," Green said. "It's a school of about 10,000 students. We are 25 miles from Lubbock. We have a fully-funded athletic program and we have a beautiful place to play. It's like a small Division I school.”