Dad’s visit lifts spir­its of Tro­jans’ Shoshi

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - COLLEGE BASKETBALL - TROY SCHULTE

Lis Shoshi had a feel­ing some­thing was up on Satur­day night. It seemed a friend from home had let slip a se­cret the UALR men’s bas­ket­ball team had in store for their se­nior for­ward.

So, when Shoshi and five other se­niors were as­sem­bled on the floor of the Jack Stephens Cen­ter for se­nior-night fes­tiv­i­ties and he heard the pub­lic ad­dress an­nouncer say there was a sur­prise in store for Shoshi, he al­most ex­pected to see his fa­ther, Dr. Gezim Shoshi, stand­ing on the floor af­ter hav­ing trav­eled from his home in Peje, Kosovo, more than 5,600 miles away.

“It’s been awhile since the last time he saw me play,” Shoshi said Sun­day. “So it was cool.”

The plan to bring the el­der Shoshi to the Jack Stephens Cen­ter for the first time was or­ches­trated by a host fam­ily Shoshi lived with while at a ju­nior col­lege in Texas and his older brother, who is still liv­ing in Kosovo. But in the last week, Shoshi was talk­ing to a friend from home who let the pos­si­bil­ity slip that some­thing was hap­pen­ing.

The friend asked Shoshi when his dad was com­ing, so he thought maybe some­thing was up. When he Shoshi saw his dad on the court, the two shared a big hug, then Gezim Shoshi watched his son score 12 points in the Tro­jans’ 71-54 loss to Ge­or­gia State.

Shoshi and his dad went out to din­ner af­ter the game, then spent some time in his ho­tel room. The el­der Shoshi won’t head back to Kosovo — an 18-hour flight — un­til Wed­nes­day, so he’ll see his fi­nal home game tonight at 8 against Ge­or­gia South­ern.

Gezim Shoshi get­ting to see his son play bas­ket­ball for the first time since 2011 — long be­fore Lis got to Howard Col­lege in Big Spring, Texas, and cer­tainly be­fore he got to UALR last sea­son — served as one of the few high­lights to what has de­vel­oped into a bum­mer of a sea­son.

Shoshi, who started all but one game as the Tro­jans reached the sec­ond round of the NCAA Tour­na­ment last sea­son, missed five games ear­lier this year with a toe in­jury, and the sea­son as a whole hasn’t at all matched the suc­cesses of last year.

“It was prob­a­bly the best thing that had hap­pened to me this sea­son,” Shoshi said of his fa­ther’s visit. “It was pretty cool to see him. I felt happy, al­though we lost. I still felt happy that he was here to see me play.”

Shoshi, some of his team­mates, and Coach Wes Flani­gan all main­tain that a sea­son that has pro­duced more bad breaks than good can turn around. The Tro­jans (13-15, 4-11) lost for the eighth time in their past nine games on Satur­day and will en­ter the Sun Belt tour­na­ment in New Or­leans on March 8 no higher than the eighth seed, and could be as low as 12th.

“Ob­vi­ously, we’ve been a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed in terms of the wins and loss col­umn, but I think a big part of some of our is­sues is lack of depth, from a stand­point of, we’ve made a cou­ple of mis­takes,” he said. “We’ve al­ways man­aged to get our­selves back into the game, so if we can fig­ure out a way to close out some games once we get to that point, hope­fully we can start win­ning some of that.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.