McBride on March Madness, men’s basketball and misconceptions


ORU junior guard Issac McBride averaged 11.8 points per game this year but described himself as ‘just a small piece in a puzzle of what God is trying to orchestrate.’

Kyrsten Dalton, Staff Writer

Stepping into the arena for the first round of the NCAA tournament, Oral Roberts University guard Issac McBride wasn’t only thinking through the game plan.


The stakes were high. Crowds were packing in. Walking onto the court felt like “walking on a cloud,” he said. But a memory from childhood kept him grounded.


Sitting by the TV with his dad, a young McBride — “some 9-year-old kid in Little Rock, Arkansas, he said watched the same tournament.


“There’s no way that can be me,” he thought, in awe of the players on the screen.


Ten years later, he was warming up on national television with a March Madness patch on his jersey.


That night, however, No. 12-seed ORU lost 74-51 to No. 5-seed Duke.


“We came out on the short end of it,” McBride said. “You can only control what you can control, but the rest is up to the supernatural ability and power of God.”


Despite the game’s outcome, McBride remains optimistic and thankful.


“The game of basketball means so much more than just us being athletes,” he said. “That game will make you a believer in yourself. And that game will make believers in the kids looking up to you.”


Elijah Lawrence, McBride’s teammate and friend, shares similar sentiments.


“It’s more than just basketball,” Lawrence said. “Every time I play even if I don’t get to play I try to assume a posture that allows people to see God in my life.”


Previous to the team’s first-round loss in the tournament, ORU achieved a 17-game winning streak.


“On any other day, we would’ve played better offensively,” McBride said. “But Coach Mills was very encouraging. He’s always been that way.”


McBride credits much of the season’s success to the level-headed, encouraging leadership ofPaul Mills, who resigned from ORU on March 21 to become the head coach at Wichita State University.


“When your leader shows confidence through adversity, the people that follow the team we have more confidence in ourselves,” McBride said. “That’s one thing that Coach Mills has shown better than any coach in America. Through adversity, he keeps the main focus, the main focus which is God in the center.”


McBride, moved by the goodness of God and his mom’s guidance, embraces this same focus.


“She never cared how many minutes I played,” McBride said. “She cared if I was doing it for the right reason .When I die and I’m in my grave, God’s going to evaluate what my true intentions were out on the court.”


Growing up, he wanted his own glory from basketball, McBride noted. Even now, he is ever-being shaped into the image of Christ on the court, he said.


“I’m not going to sit here and act like I’m some perfect chop,” he said. “I turn the ball over and a curse word might slip. I have my own battles but I can’t do anything but repay Him by using the gifts that He’s given me.”


Having played on many basketball teams throughout his career, McBride emphasized that ORU has a unique program regarding its focus on Christ.


“I went to a private Christian school, but I’ve never seen a group exhibit what it’s like to be Christ-like,he said. “I think we show the world and ORU that this is what it looks like to exhibit Christ-like manners, to exhibit what He would do.”


Lawrence has also been changed by the team’s Christ-centered culture.


“It’s allowed me to walk in a level of integrity,” Lawrence said. “No matter who or if someone is looking at me, there is a way I should handle myself as a man.”


Amid stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding student athletes, McBride encourages students at ORU to talk with and get to know the players.


“I think people get it misconstrued that we are untouchable, unapproachable, or not human because we play a sport,” McBride said. “But I don’t want them to be outsiders. If they ever need prayer, if they ever need someone to talk to, I’m a student as well.”


McBride wants students to be able to say, “I know Max Abmas. I know Kareem Thompson. I know Carlos Jurgens.’


While speaking to the Oracle, McBride also insisted on including a “Thank you to the students.


This has been a really special year to me because the students have been so interactive and supportive,” he said. “I want to thank the teachers. I want to thank the staff and administration. Thank you.


Looking forward to the future of ORU’s program, many students are waiting for further news on player and coach decisions for next year. Notably, Max Abmas, the team’s starting guard and two-time Summit League Men’s Basketball Player of the Year, has entered the NCAA transfer portal.


McBride remains hopeful and assured in God’s providence.


“God is going to ordain and put people in the places that they are supposed to be,” McBride said. “It’s hard for me, and anyone else, to not be focused on themselves. But I’m just a small piece in a puzzle of what God is trying to orchestrate.”


Although emotional at the prospect of the team’s change, McBride supports his coaches’ and team members’ aspirations.


“As for the team, I’m not guaranteeing a Sweet 16” McBride said. But he can guarantee that “we’re going to be a group of guys that love each other, that play for the love of the game, that play for Christ and for our university.”