When Bill Muse Jr. steps on to the court at the Sports Arena in Hutchinson, Kansas at 10 a.m. Monday, March 20, 2017, it will be the culmination of a “life long dream.”
The dream of playing in the National Junior College Athletic Association National Tournament.
The opponent for the Connors State Cowboys will be Spartanburg (S.C.) Methodist. It will be much more than just another basketball game for
Bill Jr. will be alongside his father, Bill Muse, head coach of the Connors State Cowboys, for the first time as a player.
Bill Jr. has been at eight other previous NJCAA National tournaments, but only as a spectator on the bench.
The sophomore who enters the game with a 10.7 scoring average, said, “It’s amazing, a dream come true for me,” said Bill Jr. “It’s been a long process, but to accomplish a goal, a dream, it’s something you can’t put in words.”
The head coach said “It has been his dream forever. He traveled with us to region tournaments in the past and always wanted to win a region championship and play at Hutch.
“He’s been at Hutch, sat on my bench when we played all our games there. He was emotionally involved in our teams.”
Bill Sr. said he could remember seeing his son crying as a youngster after the Cowboys were ousted from previous national tournaments. Muse Sr. and his son both admitted that it didn’t look good for the Cowboys when they opened the season 1-3.
“The way we started it looked like his dream wouldn’t be fulfilled,” said Muse. “I sat down with him and told him it’s not the end of the world if we don’t get to Hutch.
“But once we got to February we really turned it on.”
Since the slow start the Cowboys have posted a 25-3 record, entering the tournament as the 17th seed against the 16th seeded Pioneers, who are 29-3 and ranked 15th in the nation.
Bill Jr. has been a part of a team that has won 51 games the past two seasons, two Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference titles and a Region II championship.
“Winning the at large bid by winning the conference championship then three straight in the Region II Tournament was a dream for him and the entire family,” said Muse.
“For Billy to put the championship T-shirt on, cut the net down and hold the championship trophy at Shawnee and now to actually play on the championship floor has been a wonderful journey for him and me,” said Muse.
Junior, who had other opportunities to continue his college career other than Connors said” Only place I wanted to go was Connors, to play on my dad’s team .I had other opportunities but I knew I wanted to come here and just play for him.
“I’ve enjoy the process and going through it with Dad. We accomplish something that we both wanted to do together and get to Hutch.”
Muse said the past two seasons has been a wonderful experience both on and off the court with his son.
“It has bonded us so much closer,” said Muse. “I am with him on the court, lifting weights and in study hall. I wouldn’t have had that opportunity to have him around for two years if he went to another school.
“I really cherish that opportunity to have him around. Now he can finish the next two years at another school and continue his career. These two years have been unbelievable and the bonding has been unbelievable,” said Muse.
While at Hilldale Muse Jr. scored a school record 1,136 point over four years and as a freshman led the Hornets to a state title in baseball as a pitcher.
“He was a good baseball player, but he basically decided he wanted to concentrate on basketball and it all worked out,” said Muse.
“Bill has all been around the game (basketball) since he was 4 or 5 years old. He was at practice every single day, running around, dribbling the ball, watching us practice.
“He fell in love with our team when he was a little kid. He always wanted to sit on the bench, be a part of our program, whether sitting on the bench or traveling with the team. He has been around it so long that he has developed a love for basketball,” said Muse.
Muse Jr. admitted it hasn’t always been a bed of roses to play for his Dad.
Dad expects more out of me. Every day he expects me to be a leader and step up and give my best.”
Said Muse, “I talked to a lot of college coaches who have coached their son. I knew the pitfalls, especially on the college level.
“Would there be favoritism and other things .He has basically grown into the position. He knows the system and I thought he would fit into the system by the nature of his game.
“I get on him at practice when he doesn’t do well. Off the floor it’s still father-son relationship.”
Muse Jr. said he has great memories the past two seasons, “Winning conference championship freshman and sophomore years going to Hutch.
“It’s something that I’ll l never forget or my Dad.My family doing the things that helped us get there and enjoying every minute and being with Him (Dad).”
Both Muse Sr. and Jr. want to add one more cherished memory along with the other members of the Cowboy family…an NJCAA National Championship.