Found December 02, 2012 on Fox Sports Midwest:
ST. LOUIS -- It was the final question of what turned out to be his final press conference. Majerus was admittedly burnt out from a grueling season that had finished minutes earlier with a tough 65-61 loss to top-seeded Michigan State in the third round of the NCAA Tournament last March. But before his final give-and-take with reporters ended, the SLU coach singled out a student he had befriended the previous few seasons. "It's fitting that this guy asks the last question," Majerus said. "This is a student and he's a great kid." Majerus, who died Saturday in a Los Angeles area hospital at the age of 64 due to heart failure, went on to tell a story about how the student missed two games during the year to party in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. "I want to live your life," Majerus said. "It's appropriate, I've got to take some solace that you're asking the last question. The circle of life." Looking back, it wasn't appropriate that Saint Louis University student Derrick Neuner asked what was the final media question he'd ever answer. It was perfect. Visibly tired and emotionally drained that afternoon, Majerus spent his final press conference talking the importance of academics and being a good student. He talked about his players and how bad he felt for the seniors after the loss. He talked about the foundation he had built at SLU and the positive things on the horizon for the program. It was almost as if Majerus knew his days were numbered. The complete 22-minute press conference can be found on the NCAA's website. And every second is worth watching, as long as you have something nearby to help wipe away the tears. That's what forward Brian Conklin tried unsuccessfully to do as he answered a question about the impact Majerus had on his life. Conklin cried uncontrollably for several seconds as Majerus, seated just a few feet from him, sat motionless. Reflecting on the life of his former coach Sunday afternoon during a phone conversation with FOXSportsMidwest.com, Conklin had an equally tough time finding the right words. "He had a uncanny ability to get on you for not rebounding, but turn it into something about life and how you need to write your mother a letter," Conklin remembered. "He had the ability to turn the story like that. You'd say where is this going and then all of a sudden at the end you'd say, Well I'm never going to forget that.' He was just that type of person. "He gave his heart to whatever he was doing. From the band to the cheerleaders to the students to anybody who was a part of the program, he gave his heart and his sole to them. He would give everybody the time of day." That included Neuner, who wrote about his relationship with Majerus in a column for the University News just three days before he died. A former beat writer for the school paper, Neuner wrote of a time when Majerus called him just to talk. "I remember once he told me that my parents should be proud of the son they raised," he wrote. "He had hoped to get the chance to tell them yet." Neuner told the story of a time before last season when Majerus took him out to dinner at an Italian restaurant. The two chatted some about basketball but mostly about politics, family and love. Majerus wrote him a letter following his undergraduate graduation from SLU. He "complimented me on my success as a student, a college reporter and as a man. He promised to take me out for Italian when he returned to St. Louis in the fall." But those who know him aren't surprised by the story. That's the type of person he was. While Majerus was only briefly married and didn't have any kids of his own, he had hundreds of kids who looked up to him like a father. Majerus had just one losing season in his 25 as a head coach, finishing with a 517-216 record. He put SLU basketball back on the map during his five years there, leading the Billikens to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 12 seasons and their first inclusion in the top 25 rankings since the 1994-1995 season. He led 12 different teams to the NCAA Tournament and took four more to the NIT. His Utah squad reached the NCAA title game in 1998 where they lost to Kentucky. Majerus won at least 20 games in 15 different seasons and twice reached the 30 win mark. His resume on the court spoke for itself. But so did his work off it. A constant preacher on the importance of academics and things outside of basketball, Majerus coached eight Academic All-Conference players at SLU -- the most by any Atlantic 10 Conference program during that span -- and six Academic All-Americans during his career. Taking the court less than 24 hours after news surfaced of Majerus' passing, SLU remembered their former coach with a pregame moment of silence and lengthy standing ovation prior to their 62-49 win over Valparaiso Sunday afternoon. Students -- some of the same ones Majerus bought pizza for prior to games on numerous occasions -- wore black in his honor and cheered loudly during a near-minute long standing ovation. The team wore a black ribbon on their jerseys. Teams coached by Majerus were always solid defensively. Not ironically, SLU players called Sunday's game their best defensive performance of the season. The imprint of Majerus' life will forever be lasting for both for the current players on the SLU roster and those he coached since starting at Marquette in 1983. And the college basketball family and those who came in contact with him are better off because of it. "He developed me into a man," said guard Kwamain Mitchell. Many others would say the same.
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By Ben WeixlmannBillikenReport.com ST. LOUIS - Less than 24 hours after former Saint Louis University mens basketball head coach Rick Majerus passed away, the Billikens defeated Valparaiso 62-49 on Sunday afternoon at Chaifetz Arena. SLU observed a moment of silence in his honor, which was followed by an impromptu 40-second standing ovation and a loud chanting of his name from...
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