TERRE HAUTE —
I’m fairly certain I’m not alone in thinking that the surprise about Dave Mahurin’s resignation as Rockville High School basketball coach this week came only in its timing.
As in, what took him so long?
All I have to do is think back to that weekend in 2011, when the Mahurins packed up and drove to Cleveland to watch their son R.J. play for Indiana State against Syracuse in the NCAA tournament — at 10 p.m. or so on Friday night — and then turned back around and drove to Lafayette, where Dave coached and younger son Lane played an early afternoon semistate game.
Had the Sycamores beaten the Orangemen, of course, they would have been headed back to Cleveland for the Sunday contest there.
With his two sons taking advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play together at Indiana Wesleyan this winter, a lot more mileage will be recorded. And it would have been impossible to set up the IWU and Rockville schedules without conflicting dates.
In a perfect world, Dave would have gone out a state champion.
For about 90 percent of last season the Rox were not only the best Class A team in Indiana but the best high school team of any size in the Wabash Valley, and they accomplished all that without being particularly deep or particularly strong. They could defend, however, and — I’ve mentioned this before — controlled offensive tempo as well as any team I’ve seen. The Rox might blitz you 30-5 in one quarter, then outscore you 4-2 the next after taking the air out of the ball.
Circumstances prevented that Rockville team from being available for postseason play, but it still took a ridiculous hot streak by an unheralded player from Lafayette Central Catholic to sideline the Rox.
But that’s not why I’ll miss Dave and his coaching.
Good a coach as he was, he never made winning a basketball game seem to be a life-or-death situation (although I know a few referees who would dispute that). He had a wicked sense of humor, and he seemed perfectly willing to let his players be themselves. As a result, the Rox were rarely predictable and almost never boring.
My favorite two Rockville moments along those lines both include former role player David Parsons, the poster boy for the never-boring aspect.
In the first of those moments, the Rox were trying to hold a second-half lead against Monroe Central at the Frankfort Regional, a game they’d eventually win in overtime. At a particularly tense moment Parsons, who looked a lot more like a linebacker than a point guard, found himself trapped at the sideline near midcourt and decided to get himself out of trouble by dribbling behind his back — something no one could recall him ever doing before, certainly not while being double-teamed.
Dave had had some health issues not long before that — issues I’m happy to report haven’t cropped up again — so I couldn’t help joke with him after the Rox had survived that game. “Did you think you were about to have the big one when Parsons went behind his back?” I asked, and his answer was “Was it that obvious?”
A couple of years later, in a Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic game that was also tense, Parsons again found himself trapped, this time on the baseline. He decided his only way to escape was to shoot. Over the top of the backboard. From behind it.
Closest I’ve ever come to falling out of my press-row seat laughing.
Dave, it’s been fun. Hope the boys give you a lot of thrills at IWU this season, and I’m told that if you ever get bored you can run down to Cloverdale and help your old coach, Pat Rady, in his 50th season on the bench.
Andy Amey can be reached after 4 p.m. at 812-231-4277 or at 1-800-783-8742; by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808; or by fax at 812-231-4321. Follow TribStarAndy on Twitter.