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Topic:  RE: What Saul Phillips Meant to Me: A Personal Memoir

Topic:  RE: What Saul Phillips Meant to Me: A Personal Memoir
General User

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  Message Not Read  RE: What Saul Phillips Meant to Me: A Personal Memoir
   Posted: 3/14/2019 8:10:52 AM 
Thank you for taking the time to share your story with all of us!

I won't speak for everyone on here, but I know I am guilty of sometimes getting so wrapped up on the name that's on the front of the jersey it can become so easy to forget about the one on the back-and that each young man or young woman wearing that green and white jersey has a story, a journey, and experiences that are uniquely their own.

It's an honor to have you in our Bobcat family and I look forward to hearing what God has in store for your life!

Ohio-The State University

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  Message Not Read  RE: What Saul Phillips Meant to Me: A Personal Memoir
   Posted: 3/14/2019 8:40:28 AM 
Thank you, Treg, for opening up your heart and soul to us. I was always a fan of yours and now even more so. I had no idea of your behind-the-scenes struggles both at home and school.
I've always said that Saul and his family are quality people and an asset to any community where they live. Unfortunately the bottom-line is wins and it didn't happen as any of us wanted (including Saul). Do I wish things had ended differently? Heck yes! Do I wish we didn't have the myriad of injuries over the years or players leaving the program? Absolutely!
I'm a firm believer that things happen in our lives for a reason. We may not understand it at the time and may question it but I firmly believe it is all another chapter in our "life story".
I'll continue to follow Saul and his successes (and he will have them) just as I will try to follow you and yours. Thanks again, Treg, for being a Bobcat and taking some time to share a part of your "life story" with us.
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  Message Not Read  RE: What Saul Phillips Meant to Me: A Personal Memoir
   Posted: 3/14/2019 11:18:31 AM 
OUcats82 wrote:
Thank you for taking the time to share your story with all of us!

I won't speak for everyone on here, but I know I am guilty of sometimes getting so wrapped up on the name that's on the front of the jersey it can become so easy to forget about the one on the back-and that each young man or young woman wearing that green and white jersey has a story, a journey, and experiences that are uniquely their own.

It's an honor to have you in our Bobcat family and I look forward to hearing what God has in store for your life!

Great thoughts here on remembering that each person has their own story and journey we should consider.

Kudos to Treg for having the courage to share this story in order to point out how Saul positively affected his life.

Twitter: @ou_country

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Andrew Ruck
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  Message Not Read  RE: What Saul Phillips Meant to Me: A Personal Memoir
   Posted: 3/14/2019 5:24:58 PM 
I read every word and really enjoyed it. Your senior season was a joy to watch. Thanks for sharing and validating what so many have said about Saul and his character.

Andrew Ruck
B.B.A. 2003

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  Message Not Read  RE: What Saul Phillips Meant to Me: A Personal Memoir
   Posted: 3/14/2019 7:52:29 PM 
TregSetty0 wrote:
As a kid from a lower middle class family who grew up in Peebles, Ohio with little hope of eclipsing the mark of 6 feet 2 inches (my fathers height who also happened to be the tallest person on either side of my family), I never would have imagined that playing Division 1 basketball would someday be an option for me. Outside of an impractical "Rudy" style walk-on option somewhere, the trailer I grew up in didn't exactly afford me the space to dream as big as Division 1. Though times were never easy for them, my parents did all they could for me to have the best chance in life. My father worked away from home 5 nights a week as an environmental soil sampler and my mom babysat until I went to kindergarten, when she made the life altering decision to finally leave Peebles and achieve her dream of attaining a college degree. My moms dream, as she explained to my brother and me, growing up was to attend Ohio University and get her degree in education. She wasn't able to see that dream through, however, as many from Peebles never were really able to achieve such lofty goals. She was forced to settle for Shawnee State University by way of two years at Southern State community college. Around about this same time, my brother was asked to play AAU basketball for a team out of Maysville, Kentucky. This was huge for us. Nobody left Peebles for anything but groceries or the once in a blue moon trip to see a movie.

We began trekking to my brothers practices in Maysville two times a week for two years straight. Our weekends began filling up with trips to play AAU basketball and sometimes we were even able to stay in a motel during the trips. Our Saturdays stopped looking like cartoons and UC hoops in exchange for watching 4th graders battle other 4th graders. Our Sundays began to consist of less and less churchgoing, which for so long was the very foundation of our family structure. We didn't have much but we had God and we had foundation.

What was something of a hobby began to turn into a lifestyle. We decided as a family to move to Maysville and go to school at Mason County because of the many opportunities it would afford us. The athletics were as superior as the academics. My parents knew that for my brother and me to have a chance at doing what they never could do, leave Peebles, we had to do just that. And so we did. We left our small pond for the big one. We moved to greener pastures and it was the best decision we had ever made. Our lives were taking off. On top of basketball I was given the opportunity to sing in the school choir and even to play football! We never could afford football equipment in Peebles so it wasn't an option growing up, even though I was borderline obsessed with the sport. This new life was more than we ever dreamed it could have been. We were now in a bigger world both literally and figuratively. This, however, was not immune to defect.

What was once something so good would over time become the parasite to our families immune system. A pestilent lack of God in our lives turned into my mom and dad losing any semblance of a proper marriage. My dad began sleeping on the couch while I would sleep in the bed with my mom. Dad was hardly ever home anymore because his weekends began to consist of traveling taking my brother to his AAU tournaments while my mom took me to my own. Basketball was our life. As so very familiar to so many across America today, my family lost sight of the very fact that we were a family. We lost our union.

Five years into our Maysville life and it was now 2008. My brother was a senior on the Mason County varsity team that was ranked as high as number 10 in the country. Spearheaded by my brother, an Oklahoma State commit and future NAIA National MVP, and Darius Miller, future NBA player and national champion as a star at UK, it seemed that our move to Maysville was validated through the state championship that we won. I was a freshman on that team and it was the most proud I'd ever been. Standing on that Rupp Arena floor, breathing in confetti, after the final horn of my brothers Mason County career ended as a champion. Life was good, at least as it pertained to basketball.

The home front, however, was an entirely different story. My dad lost his job as the economic crash of 2008 dealt a heavy blow to his field of work. At the same time, we learned that my mother was having an affair with the assistant superintendent of Mason County schools, my brothers AAU coach, the same man who convinced us to move to Maysville all those years back, that had lasted over a span of 5 years to that point. My dads mental health spiraled out of control. At one point my sophomore year of high school in 2009, I stayed up all night with my dad for 5 days straight because I felt if I were to leave his side that he would in fact follow through on his desire to "end it all." My mom felt horrible for what she did. My mom is and was a good Christian woman but she, like so many 21st century Americans, lost track of what it was that filled her soul with joy and contentment. She "lost her way" as the old saying goes. Looking back, I'm not so sure my dad wasn't guilty of the same stuff. The worst part of everything that happened to me was that I lost trust of those around me. The authority figures that a kid needs in his life to be rock solid had betrayed me in a sense and it devastated me. It affected my entire outlook on life.

All the while I was dealing with these issues at home, I was a standout player myself for the defending state champions at Mason County. As a 6 foot 6 sophomore shooting forward I averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds for a top 5 team in the state. After a first round exit in the KHSAA sweet sixteen in 2009, I had my eyes set on making a big splash on the summer AAU circuit. To the surprise of many, I did just that. Receiving heavy attention from big time schools such as Virgina, Notre Dame, Alabama, Ohio State and powerhouse mid majors such as Xavier, Butler and VCU, I was able to compartmentalize my distressing home life. This attention made me forget that I was depressed. My anxiety at home was evaporated once I left, in large part to my prospects of a big time future in college basketball.

Prior to the start of my junior year, I secured offers from the likes of Southern Illinois, Ohio University, Marshall, Miami (Oh.), and a few other mid majors. These offers, however, made me feel more pressure than less. The attention that was once my escape slowly evolved into my most feared component of everyday life. I felt pressured now to be something that I wasn't sure I could be. I averaged 16 and 8 as a junior and lead my team to a third straight Sweet Sixteen appearance and I knew that this was my chance to play for the big schools. This was my opportunity to show that I could put the team on my back and win a state championship the same way my brother did two years before. The tournament, however, did not end the way I wanted it to. The anxiety I felt on that Rupp Arena floor was nothing short of the same that I felt at home when I heard doors slamming and my parents screeching at each other. My hands shook in nervousness as I stood in front of thousands of people who I felt knew my family life and that my mother was in bed with the superintendent of the schools whose colors I donned so proudly. I felt naked. I heard things nobody said. I saw things that weren't there. My mind was playing tricks on me and there was no possible way for me to play my best. I thought I was crazy. I hated myself.

In spite of my only scoring 9 points in three games, my team made it all the way to the semi finals of the tournament before losing to the eventual state champion. As you could imagine, this horrible performance of mine did nothing to bump my stock. After our semi final game that we lost, we walked into the hotel and I watched OU put a beating on Georgetown. I looked over at my head coach and told him, "I'm going to commit to OU as soon as we get home." He smiled half heartedly. The truth was that he knew something I didn't. When we arrived back in Maysville he brought me into his office and told me that Coach Gross called him and told him the offer was no longer on the table. Another adult who betrayed my trust. That same day, without telling my parents or anyone else, I called every single coach that had offered me a scholarship to tell them I wanted to commit. I was so unsure of myself that I was willing to give myself to anyone who would take me. I was damaged goods and all I needed was a home, something I hadn't had for some time now. Every single coach I called told me they didn't want me anymore except for one. Coach Chris Lowery of the Southern Illinois Salukis did something that I didn't think was possible. He chose me. He earned my trust. He stuck with my through the most difficult times in my life and I was going to return the favor. I was going to be his Gordon Hayward.

After a senior season where I averaged 22 points and 12 rebounds a game and was evicted from two different homes, I was ready to finally leave Maysville. I was ready to have a home again. Carbondale, Illinois was going to be that place for me, that was until I got there. What I experienced at Southern Illinois was a culture of mental abuse and udder disdain for the players. We were treated like dogs. Worse than dogs, in fact. At least dogs weren't forced to wake up at 5:30 am and run sixty 100 yards sprints. The second week I was at SIU I was as homesick as I was depressed and something happened that would exacerbate my anxiety like nothing I ever dreamed possible. How could it get any worse? In an open gym one Summer evening I was sprinting back on defense while looking back at the ball behind me as a teammate of mine was sprinting backwards (for what reason I've never fully understood). As I turned my head around it impacted his head and I was knocked out for a split second. I immediately came to, however, but not long enough to brace my fall. The last thing I can remember is my face hitting the floor and the pain that comes with such a blow. I don't remember much but something that will always stick with me is the pain that one feels when slamming your face on solid ground. I now know that the reason one passes out after severe blows to the head is because the pain is such that your brain simply cannot process it. It has to go to sleep. I was knocked out for a span of 8 and a half hours. I woke up in a hospital at 3 o'clock in the morning with needles piercing my veins and surrounded by nobody. I was dealt a reality that I was no longer loved. I no longer had people that cared for me. My parents were scared but they didn't know what to do. They couldn't get to me. I had hundreds of missed calls from the two of them. They were frightened. I called Coach Lowery and he came back to the hospital to pick me up. He told me what had happened and that I was going to have to spend time healing. I was hungry and he told me my assistant coach would bring me something to eat. He dropped me off at my dorm room which was on the third floor of a dorm building that seemed older than the university. I wasn't allowed to turn the lights on in my dorm for two weeks. I couldn't look at my phone as the blue light would hinder my recovery. After a couple of hours, why assistant showed up with a styrofoam plate full of cold cafeteria food. Hotdogs and apple sauce. As a freshman I wasn't entitled to an off campus housing check so I had very little money to order anything to eat. I was in the worst condition I'd ever been in. Sad, lonely, and hungry with a pulsating temple to boot.

My freshman year of college was off on a rotten foot. It felt merely an extension of the bad luck I was having on the home front back in Maysville. After a week in a dark room, I was rushed into workouts with the team. I will never forget the pain in my head and the dizziness associated with exercise that was once my escape from a cold reality. I was abused by my coaches at SIU, mentally. They didn't hit me, they didn't physically harm me but they tormented me. They told me I was nothing. They made fun of my shooting form. Who was once my confidant, Chris Lowery, had now become my worst nightmare. I trembled at the thought of him. He was my anxiety made manifest. I missed home. I missed my friends. But every time I felt hopeful I was dealt with the reality that "home" no longer existed. My home life was as crumbled as my basketball life. What once gave me a leg to stand on in the arena of life now made my limb as limp as its twin.

I physically, mentally and emotionally hobbled through my first year at SIU. At the commencement of the season Coach Lowery was fired and replaced by Barry Hinson. The smooth talking southerner from Oklahoma who spent years under Bill Self at Kansas was now in charge of convincing me to stay in Carbondale. Despite his best efforts, however, my mind was made up. I was gone in every way but body. I'll never forget watching OU battling UNC in the sweet sixteen and thinking, "If I wasn't such a f*** up I could have been playing in the Sweet Sixteen." It was at that point that my regret reached its peak. I wished so badly in hindsight that I would have committed to Gross sooner. Maybe none of this would have happened. I did what I always did in times of pressure and anxiety, however, I prayed. God always listened to me.

I never put too much stock in answered prayers, however, because I felt that whatever God gave me I should just be thankful for it. No matter what. Good or bad. Yet, on my final day at SIU, after a long drawn out battle with the university over my release of scholarship which culminated in a viral campaign titled #FreeTregSetty (Twitter search it) after Jeff Goodman pinned a CBSSports article of my struggle with SIU, I was walking into the arena locker room to get my last bit of belongings before heading back to Kentucky. I just so happened to be walking by one of my assistant coaches, Anthony Stewart. He had a box full of his things and stopped me. He asked me had I gotten my release yet. After I told him yes he informed me he was taking a position at none other than Ohio University and he wanted me to join him. I couldn't believe it. I grew up watching my cousins playing on the convo floor for Peebles and dreamed of one day playing on the same floor, albeit for Peebles, as I never dreamed I'd be good enough to play for the Bobcats. As one to not shy away from impulse, I committed on the spot. I didn't even know who the head coach was. All I knew was that I didn't want to be far away from home anymore, and southern Ohio was the last "true" home I had ever known. Count me in.

I arrived in Athens in the summer of 2012 as one of only 3 newcomers on a team that brought back every single player from a trip to the Sweet Sixteen. Let's just say I wasn't accepted very well. Most of the team wouldn't talk to me. One certain teammate made fun of me constantly. So did another, all of the time. I was 6'9 and could barely dunk and I had a stupid country accent. What wasn't there to make fun of? I wasn't good enough for this team. On one occasion the team was going to go see "The Dark Knight Rises" together and I caught wind of it. I texted one of my teammates and asked him when they were going and he told me they weren't. I decided to go see it by myself and I walked in to see the entire team was there, minus me. His lie was unaccounted for but he made sure to crack a joke on me about the "wife beater" shirt that I was wearing. The entire team cackled. The mental games and jokes weren't strictly bound by the title of teammate, however. My head coach treated me worse than the head coach at SIU. I was constantly dogged and told I was close to being "sent home." If I didn't do this* then that* would happen. I drove to Maysville every weekend that first summer in Athens and stayed by myself in a studio apartment my mom had rented so she had somewhere to stay when she was driving back and forth from her boyfriends in Cincinnati and her job in Maysville. Being alone in my moms apartment by the Ohio River was better than feeling like I was less than nothing in Athens.

The season came and went as we had a great year. I made friends of some of my teammates, others not so much. But I earned the respect of my fair share. This was all I could ask for. I came into my red shirt sophomore season knowing that I had to do something to stand out. I had to fill a role on the team that nobody else would. In my circumstance, that manifested through my "wildcard" like behavior. I did any and everything to get on the floor. I did anything to stand out. I even went and got a gigantic tribal tattoo on my right arm that I would grow to despise within a couple weeks. In some ways it was as if the inner turmoil that I had faced throughout all those years was now branded on my arm. There was no escaping the ugliness that existed on my conscience. People on the team and throughout the campus treated me like you would expect. I was "crazy," and I was "out there." My coach, though I believe that he is a good man as we all make mistakes and I'm forever grateful to him for the opportunity to be a Bobcat, would constantly make fun of my antics and threaten me that he would send me home. After one game in particular, he called me into his office (something that happened nearly every game) and slammed a can of Diet Coke on his desk after I closed the door, the beverage exploding out of the seems. He yelled at me profusely telling me that if I didn't get more than three rebounds next game he would "Kadeem Green" my "ass." This was another adult in my life who betrayed my trust and hurt me at a level they never understood. All I wanted was to be loved and excepted. But I kept fighting. I wanted so badly to persevere. I will never forget the first game that I stood out. Against Buffalo in February of 2014 we were playing terribly and coach gave me my chance. I went in and dove on the usual loose ball as I was one to do, but this time, I actually put the ball in the hoop. I hit my first three pointer of the season after a couple solid drives to the basket and ran down the court as the crowd began to chant "Setty! Setty! Setty!" A chant that became a mainstay throughout my playing years at OU. I'll never forget that feeling of acceptance, the feeling of vindication. Finally, my heart was on display for the fans to see.

I scored in double figures in one game my sophomore year. A CIT game against Cleveland State. We then beat Wright State in a game in which I contributed 9 points toward the effort until finally losing to VMI the next game. I can remember reading BobcatAttack and seeing the belief and excitement many had in and about me. I felt like I was finally on solid ground to some extent. I felt like I had a home.

Much to my surprise, however, two weeks later my coach was hired at Boston College. I pretended to be upset by it but the truth was I was as happy as I'd ever been. I even tweeted out, "Blessing in disguise." In retrospect I wish I hadn't done that. It was uncalled for, albeit in my mind just. I now had a girlfriend and I'll never forget talking to her about the chance of playing for a coach who treated me with respect and didn't treat me with the disdain as previous coaches. This was a blessing from God, though to the extent of which I wasn't quite sure.

Insert Saul Phillips. This enigmatic figure of Cinderella success in the NCAA tournament from the year prior was a gift sent from heaven. Upon hearing of his hiring I searched his name on YouTube and witnessed first hand his hilarious one liners and unconventional style in teaching. He seemed relaxed and chilled. He didn't go crazy on his players. He had fun with them. I was more happy than I could express, bursting at the seems with joy. I couldn't wait to meet him.

Our first interaction came in Ping in April 2014. I couldn't believe how he talked to me. He let me be. He didn't make fun of my shooting form or stare at my tattoo. He cracked jokes and asked me about my life. The first meeting that I had with him, we sat down for a couple of hours and talked about life. He treated me like a human being. We talked about girls, money, politics, shared stories etc. It was the first time in my college career that I felt real in discussion with a superior. My roommate, Maurice Ndour was contemplating a transfer and I, with the help of Coach Kemp and Coach Phillips, convinced him to stay. We were going to have a blast and win a lot of games while doing so. Finally, I could have some fun.

As the 2014/15 year came and went, however, as you all know this was not what happened. In fact, it was anything but fun. We struggled out of the gate. Going 10-20 was anything but enjoyable. I played terribly the whole year. My anxiety on the court did not go away. I still felt it. I was rushed. I didn't take my time. I simply looked uncomfortable while on the court. Sure I played hard, but I didn't contribute anything more than some hustle plays. This wasn't the role I had imagined for myself. On top of that, I became frustrated at all times on the court. I yelled, clinched my fist, ran my mouth. I was an angry person on the court and I didn't even know it. My "hustle" was unbeknownst to me a product of the anger that I felt deep inside. I could tell that Saul was growing visibly frustrated with me throughout the year and when it ended I was ready to pack up my belongings and transfer as I knew he would do what so many adults in my life had done up to that point.

As all coaches do, he scheduled a meeting with me to sit in front of the entire staff in his office so they could all tell me what they thought of me. To put it mildly, they weren't good things. I was told some of the worst things about me right there to my face but you want to know something? I needed to hear them. I needed to hear, badly, what it was about me that made me so unbearable at times. At the end of the meeting he asked all of the coaches to leave and I thought for sure this was when he was going to tell me that he wouldn't renew my scholarship for my senior season. I was gearing up for the bad news as he did something I will never forget. He told me he believed in me and that he loved who I was. He said he needed me and that I was the perfect player for his system. He told me to get in the gym and get better and I would be a main cog of his 2015/16 team. I took this to heart and spent the entire off season putting up over 60,000 shots in the name of becoming a better scorer for the coach who didn't give up on me.

My senior season was my best year and was probably his best year at Ohio as well. I didn't want to make this about me, but I felt it was necessary to give the full scope of what Coach Phillips meant to me. Because of him I am now more stable and able to handle the curveballs of life than ever before. If there is one thing we should all learn from one Saul Phillips it's to not take life too seriously. Never bow down to fear. Whether facing losing, termination, or even cancer, you never should let your outward response be anything but positive and upbeat. Though his tenure at OU did not end like we all would have wanted, I would venture to say that OU never has and probably never will have a coach as consistently himself as Coach Phillips. The man who didn't give up on me. The man who didn't betray my trust. The world could use a few more Saul Phillips'.

Wow, I see why Saul is loved by so many.

Nobody despises to lose more than I do. That's got me into trouble over the years, but it also made a man of mediocre ability into a pretty good coach. Woody Hayes

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  Message Not Read  RE: What Saul Phillips Meant to Me: A Personal Memoir
   Posted: 3/16/2019 1:32:32 AM 
DJCooperBurnerAccount wrote:
Treg, one of my favorite players in OU history.. thank you for sharing this.

Not just because of your play on the court, but because of a memorable moment in Midway Airport when a 60+ year old grad with a Bobcat t-shirt on encountered the Bobcat basketball team flying home from a game at Northern Illinois. I was standing near the entire team in the gate area waiting for our flight. Most of the players were relaxing either with earphones on listening to music or just chatting among themselves -- totally acceptable behavior. But not Treg Setty. You walked right up to me extended your hand to shake mine and began to ask me about my life as a Bobcat and beyond. Your enthusiasm and genuine interest in my "story" were remarkable. Maybe you were trying to understand why a grown man would wear his school colors well after graduating while traveling in a city that knows little of Ohio. I'd like to think maybe you were hoping to be that guy some day and wondered how to sustain the love for all things Bobcat for so many years. Whatever it was, I remember it like it was yesterday and I thank you, Treg, for all you did both on and off the court to share your Bobcat passion. Best wishes.
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