COLUMBIA — "Forty-one."
That is the defensive play the Missouri men’s basketball players know as soon as they hear it. But to Cathy Scroggs, one of the honorary coaches for Thursday night's Black and Gold Game at Mizzou Arena that isn’t the case.
Scroggs, the gold team coach who was sitting in what is normally Missouri head coach Mike Anderson’s seat, had no idea what 41 meant when she yelled it at her players. But after she did, the players quickly switched up their defense.
Scroggs, the vice chancellor of MU Student Affairs, was one of two honorary coaches for the game, alongside Missouri Students Association president Tim Noce. The black team, coached by Noce, won 102-96 after trailing by six at halftime.
“I told the team I wanted to win,” Scroggs said. “They were out there to play well, but they were just wanting to have a good time too.”
Right from the start, the players welcomed their new, temporary coaches. As Noce walked over to the bench after player introductions, junior guard Marcus Denmon grabbed him, gave him a high five and brought him in for a hug.
For the most part, the coaches got to sit on the bench and enjoy a front row view of the game, but the Missouri assistant coaches let them do a little bit of coaching as well.
“I encouraged the players as much as I could,” Noce said. “I would say ‘hey, you got to talk more’ and stuff like that. The other coaches didn’t let me step on their toes or anything, but they did let me do a little bit.”
Anderson, who was sitting on the other side of the court, said he didn’t have to give his replacements any encouragement in dealing with his team.
“They both said that they’re in it to win it,” Anderson said. “You talk about the relationship with the president of the student body and of course Cathy, they care about Tiger athletics, so it’s great that they can come over and spend some time with our guys.”
Anderson was frustrated in the first half with his team’s sloppy play, and the players said he came in the locker room and yelled at them. Then senior Justin Safford joked how Scroggs chewed them out as well.
“Cathy had a few words for us as well,” Safford said.
Scroggs confirmed it.
“I pointed out things to the coaches that I noticed,” Scroggs said. “But they were all my team. I certainly wanted the gold to win, but I was watching the good play at the other end of the court too.”
The best part that both honorary coaches said about being on the bench during the game was the atmosphere and how they were right in the middle of the action. They said it was fun seeing the players' reactions after they made big plays.
Scroggs and Noce found out a couple of months ago that they would be honorary coaches for the game. Missouri selects different people each year. Last year, MU System President Gary Forsee and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon got to coach.
At the end of the game, after the black team had secured victory, a timeout was called. The players ran off the court and gave Noce high fives.
Junior forward Laurence Bowers made it clear Noce had done the most important thing a coach can do.
“He won,” Bowers said. “He did a good job, and we were glad to have him.”