College Notebook: Prairie Fire headed for Hawaii

 From The Register Mail:
Probably by the time you read this, the Knox College basketball team will have left the snow drifts and slick roads behind and will be winging its way to Honolulu, Hawaii.

The 9-hour flight will unofficially make the Prairie Fire basketball road trip the second-longest in school history, exceeded only by the trip a Harley Knosher-coached team took to Spain about three decades ago.

Knox, 1-7 after a 74-69 loss Wednesday to Lawrence, will be hoping the sun and surf of Waikiki Beach will soothe the pain of a seven-game losing streak when it plays Edgewood College of Madison, Wis., on Saturday and the University of Dubuque on Sunday.

“This trip has been three years in the making,” said Knox coach Rob Purlee. “When I took over, I knew every four years you need to take a really special trip.

“It takes four years to raise the kind of money it takes to do something like this. It will give the kids an experience they’ll always remember.”

The team will spend six days in Hawaii, returning home Christmas Eve.

Edgewood and Dubuque are schools Knox has played in recent seasons in this part of the world but the schools worked out arrangements to play one another in a more exotic location when Knox’s plans to play Hawaii colleges didn’t work out. The games will be played at Kalaheo High School.

“We are still trying to put an identity on who we are,” said Purlee, whose team can count a few near-misses among its losses. “We are coming off four conference road games in eight days.

“That doesn’t even happen in the Big Ten. That’s a brutal schedule.”
“When we come back from the holidays, we’ve got a ton of home games.”

By then, the Prairie Fire should be rested, recharged and refreshed. Purlee is certainly savoring the opportunity.

“My grandfather was stationed there when he was in the service,” he said. “My mom was born there.

“My grandmother has always talked about taking the family to Hawaii, I want to say for the last 20 years.

“The Purlee family — 11 of them — will be going. “My wife’s going. We’re taking the kids. We’ll have a a family Christmas out there.”