POCATELLO, Idaho — Each night, Montana State coach Brian Fish loudly challenges Turkish forward Sarp Gobeloglu to be better.
“Bend your knees, Sarp!”
“Get back, Sarp!”
“What are you doing, Sarp?!”
Senior guard Marcus Colbert says Fish is simply trying to draw out Gobeloglu’s raw potential.
A 6-foot-10, rail-thin junior, Gobeloglu joined the Bobcats last spring as a transfer from Gillette College in Wyoming. He is trying to live up to the pressure of balancing school with basketball, and the demands of being relatively new to the United States.
“First of all, I wanted to get an education with basketball,” Gobeloglu said Thursday after MSU lost 68-60 at Weber State. “I had a better chance to do it here together because you have to do your classes good to play basketball, which has turned out to be good. I still have to improve a lot, but I’ve learned a lot.”
Yet Gobeloglu’s mind wasn’t on school or basketball last week when a car bomb exploded in his hometown of Ankara, the capital of Turkey. The attack, which reportedly targeted a military convoy traveling through Ankara’s government center, killed 30 people and injured 60 others.
Gobeloglu’s parents now live 280 miles northwest in Istanbul, but his uncles and grandparents are still in Ankara, which gave him pause when he heard the news.
“I was worried when I heard it,” Gobeloglu said. “I called my family and friends and checked on them. Thankfully I didn’t know anybody (involved). But still, prayers for the people, families and friends who are lost.”
Bordered by Syria and Iran, Turkey is situated in an unstable part of the world. The attack came just four months after two separate suicide bombings killed more than 100 and injured 400 others at the central railway station in Ankara.
“It doesn’t matter where in the world it’s at — Ankara or another country,” Gobeloglu said. “Terrorism is just sad. People die. No matter what the number is, it’s sad. I hope the world is a better place.”
(Another) baby on board
At 26, Quinton Everett is MSU’s elder statesman. Fish calls him the team’s “heart-and-soul guy.” Now Everett is a father for the second time.
Mere hours before the Bobcats played archrival Montana last Saturday in Missoula, Everett learned that his girlfriend, Keona, had given birth to their second daughter, Janesis, at home in Tampa, Fla.
“I was pretty much focused on the game still,” Everett said. “But I was excited about having my daughter. I was excited for both.”
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Everett flew home to Florida early Sunday morning for a quick visit, then returned to the team in time for its bus trip through Weber State and Idaho State, which began Wednesday morning.
“Eight pounds, nine ounces, 21 inches,” Everett beamed after practice in Ogden, Utah, on Wednesday.
“Of course I wish I could have had more time. But going home I knew that I was only going to have a short period of time with them. I’m used to that now.”
Everett said Keona and his two girls, including 2-year-old Trinity, will join him in Bozeman for good in April. Everett is currently a junior forward with the Bobcats.
The Bobcats’ preparation for their game Saturday night at Idaho State hit a snag when the team could not find available hotel rooms in Pocatello. Instead, MSU is forced to stay 50 miles away in Idaho Falls.
The reason? The Idaho high school state wrestling championships are being held this weekend at ISU’s Holt Arena. Hotels are virtually sold out.
MSU bussed from Ogden to Idaho Falls after the game at Weber State on Wednesday. The Bobcats practiced Friday at an Idaho Falls high school.
“It’s a screw-up I’m not happy about by our league,” Fish said Wednesday. “Idaho State, they’ve got things going on and they didn’t reserve rooms for us. We’ve been trying to get hotels … we’re staying a long way away. That’s not the way you handle things. That’s not very professional on their part.
“It takes you completely out of your rhythm. But it’s part of life on the road. It will be addressed this summer and when we have our coaches meetings.”
Per the Big Sky Conference, it’s up to visiting teams to secure hotel rooms for all regular-season travel.
More on Holm’s departure
The team announced the departure of junior guard Stephan Holm on Wednesday, one hour before tipoff of the Weber State game.
After the game, Fish did not elaborate on the reason(s) for Holm leaving the team. A press release said Holm left for personal reasons.
On the court, Fish said the Bobcats will be fine despite being down a man.
“I don’t think it bothers us at all,” he said. “Nahjee (Matlock) was taking his minutes anyway. We just want to make sure Steph’s OK.”