The Importance of the Tournament
By Garrett Smith
In recent years, the main games of interest to UMHB basketball have included Hardin-Simmons and Concordia, based on the rivalries the schools share. However, this year’s American Southwest Conference basketball tournament includes several matches of greater importance to UMHB.
The Crusaders have defeated Concordia for 17 straight games, but rarely has the margin of victory been more than three or four points in the last three years. Concordia, for losing to UMHB this many times, seems to put up the toughest fight against the Cru. The UMHB-Concordia rivalry hit its peak when students from both universities filled Mayborn Campus Center for the ASC Championship game in 2008. UMHB came away with the nail biter victory and won the conference.
UMHB traveled to Dallas in 2009 for the ASC Tournament and fought hard against a talented UT-Dallas team, as well as many questionable calls by the referees. UMHB fans were not greeted with respect from the Comet fans in Richardson, and the game left a bitter taste with the Crusader faithful. At the first chance to settle the score, UMHB was defeated again by UT-Dallas 83-79 early this season. In a final game matchup between these two teams, the crowd will be guaranteed a good show.
Tension continues to build between UMHB and Mississippi College ever since the October upset of UMHB’s football team by the Choctaws. After getting off to a rocky start to the season, UMHB had to face the 10th ranked Mississippi College in Mayborn Campus Center, where the Cru scored an impressive 83-64 upset of the Choctaws. No doubt a rematch would be heated.
Last time UT-Tyler played in the first round of the ASC Tournament in Mayborn, the UMHB fans arrived to cheer on the Patriots against Hardin-Simmons. This time, UTT’s first match is against UMHB.
It is a common trend to make McMurry the butt of sporting jokes, but this year’s squad is nothing to laugh at. UMHB defeated McMurry in Abilene, 80-73, but lost the rematch at home, 76-88. McMurry wants to show the conference they are capable of repeating victory in Mayborn, but UMHB will not let them have it easily.
ETBU and Sul Ross State
The very fact that East Texas Baptist University made it into the tournament does not speak highly of the efforts of teams such as Howard Payne and Hardin-Simmons. While a win against McMurry by the Tigers would benefit UMHB, Crusader fans can only keep their fingers crossed. Sul Ross, while not known for strong athletics programs, is not a team to overlook, especially if they are capable of upsetting UT-Dallas in the first round (also something UMHB should cross its fingers for).
The reasons to be ready for the tournament are very clear. All that is left is for the Crusader faithful stand, yell and watch, as UMHB Basketball defends home court. This is the first step towards the national NCAA Division III Basketball Tournament.