Mike Proctor is the lone senior on the Northern Colorado Bears men's basketball roster. As a junior, the 6-foot- 8 center/forward helped the Bears to the Big Sky Conference Championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. He earned All-Tournament honors at Big Sky Championship in Greeley, Colo. Proctor has played 108 games for the Bears.
In conference play this season, the Desert Vista graduate is averaging 10.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. The Bears were 8-16 overall and 5-8 in conference heading into Wednesday's game at Eastern Washington. Let's get to know the Northern Colorado senior:
Q: How/why did you start playing basketball?
A: I started playing basketball competitively when I was in the third grade. We had a tournament against fourth-graders, and we got blown out every game.
Q: So far, what is your best memory of playing college basketball at Northern Colorado?
A: Besides winning the Big Sky Championship last year, my favorite memory was the first individual practice, when I was officially a college basketball player.
Q: Take us back to the championship last year in Greeley and what it was like to win the tournament on your home court and have the students storm the floor.
A: The students storming the floor was probably the coolest event that has ever happened to me in my lifetime, so far. The energy and electricity was awesome and something that I was glad to be a part of.
Q: Last year at the championship you were sporting some pretty large lamb chop sideburns. What happened to them?
A: Well the side burns were just a distraction for myself, because I felt I was not playing to what I was capable of. So coach (Chris) Craig talked me in to them, and coach (B.J.) Hill said he was alright with it so long as I played hard. And right now I feel I am playing with a clear head and competing at a high level so I don't have them now, but maybe some time this year I will bring them out again.
Q: So far, has your career been what you expected? Why or why not?
A: My career has been along the path that I expected. I thought my rebounding and points per game would go up each season, and I have enjoyed and made the most of my experience at NC.
Q: Besides the coaching staff, what made you choose Northern Colorado?
A: Well, when I visited the campus I really liked what the team was trying to do with the program at the time. I knew that I would like playing with the guys ahead of me.
Q: What has it meant to you to play in over 100 career games for the Bears?
A: It means a lot to play 100 games. This school grows on you, and putting in hours in the gym every year, it just means a lot to get the chance to play that many games.
Q: What has it meant to you and your team to not have Devon Beitzel back this season?
A: It has meant a lot to me, and I am sure that it has meant a lot to the other players as well. We all had to grow up, especially with losing four seniors and a lot of knowledge of the system and just basketball experience. We all have grown up over the past year.
Q: Devon was one of four seniors on last year's team who each played more than 100 games together. How has your role changed now that you are a senior on a very young team?
A: My role went from being just a player who provides energy and sustained intensity to becoming the leader for this team - a rock that the other players can lean on. So my role has changed a lot.
Q: Tad Boyle, who was the coach at Northern Colorado when you arrived, left following your sophomore season for the University of Colorado. What are some of the differences and similarities between Boyle and current coach B.J. Hill?
A: Well, Tad Boyle was a great coach, and I really enjoyed playing for him. He really pushed us every practice and every game. One thing about Tad is that he would snap and go from 10 over the top and turn the dial to 11.
And B.J. Hill is an awesome coach. He was my favorite coach when Tad was here, mostly because he was the "bigs" coach, and he was down with us every practice. But B.J. has more of an edge about him that is just contagious and you want to get. He makes the practices 10 times harder each night to prepare us for each game. He really does a great job making us the best player we can become.
Q: This season, you guys played in a tournament at South Padre Island, Texas. What was that experience like?
A: Well, anytime you go from 4,600 feet at Greeley to sea level, it is really awesome. We could run for days down there, but we were not used to the humidity, and sometimes that adds to the negative part of the game, and you get worried about dehydration and cramping up. But playing in a really nice setting and an island is an unforgettable experience.
Q: Your brother, Richard, played volleyball at Arizona. Are you much of a volleyball player, and did you have a chance to play at the college level?
A: I am a volleyball player. I played four years in high school, but I did not play too often. I love the game. It was relaxing for me to go from basketball to volleyball, but I only played two months out of the year structured and the rest of the year was for basketball.
I had the opportunity to play in college. I had an 80 percent scholarship offer from BYU and a preferred walk-on offer from Hawaii. The catch with Hawaii, though, was that I had to earn my scholarship. So the fall semester I was a walk-on and the spring semester I would have had a scholarship if the coach thought I was the best of the walk-ons.
Q: You are a senior this year. What are your plans in the real world once basketball ends?
A: After the season I would like to continue with basketball, either playing or coaching, so I will pursue that. But if that does not pan out, then I will look for an opportunity in electricity generation with wave technology. I have had several talks with my professors on that and I am sure they would help me out however they can.
Q: Where is your favorite place to eat in Greeley?
A: The Kitchen is by far the best place to eat. It's like something you would see on a TV show - real old breakfast joint with great food.
Q: Who has the best arena in the Big Sky (other than your own)?
A: The best arena would have to be either the Montanas or at Weber State. I like playing in those and winning in front of those fans.
Q: What's your favorite Big Sky trip and why?
A: My favorite Big Sky trip is a tie between Portland State and Sacramento State. The cities are just so much fun to be in. There is just more activity going on, and I enjoy being there.
Q: What is your favorite thing to do besides playing basketball?
A: My favorite thing to do besides basketball is probably just kicking it with the guys.
Q: If you could have dinner with any three people in the world (living or deceased) who would they be and why?
A: First would be James Naismith. Not only was he the founder of basketball, but he had several degrees and talking to him would be a great conversation. Second would be Michael Jordan. I have idolized him since I was a little kid. Third would be George Washington because he founded this nation.
Q: Who is your favorite professional athlete?
A: Right now? Amar'e Stoudemire. Out of anyone ever? That would have to be Michael Jordan.
• This story was submitted by Jon Kasper, an assistant commissioner of the Big Sky Conference. Alyssa Askew is an intern with the Big Sky.