Cru basketball: Best in the West could make it all the way
By Jake Stamps
With the winter season beginning, and football long forgotten, only one word is in Cru vocabulary — basketball. The Crusaders had a 23-8 overall record and were 15-6 in conference play this past season. Coming off a third-round loss to Augustana College in last year’s NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Championship, team members are determined to bring home a national championship this year.
The Cru have nine returning players with the addition of eight newcomers/transfers. The team is already making an impact this season by starting off on an 11-game winning streak, with a record 12-0 and 8-0 in conference play. UMHB is currently ranked #9 in D3hoops.com Top 25 Poll.
“We have competed, we have played well, we have shot the ball well and more importantly we have played well defensively,” Head Coach Ken DeWeese said when asked about the Crusaders’ perfect start this season by ASC Assistant Commissioner Greg Weghorst.
The ASC Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll was released in October and had the Crusaders picked to finish second place in the West Division. McMurry received 174 points (13 first-place votes), Mary Hardin-Baylor had 173 points (nine first-place votes) and Hardin-Simmons had 142 points (two first-place votes) for the top three places.
Although second place is a good position in the conference, the Crusaders plan to finish in first place. UMHB is in a good position not only to prevail with the conference title but to bring home a national championship as well.
Here are the facts:
The Crusaders have already made an impression this season with their superb defense. They are leading the ASC Conference with the number of points their opponents score, an average of 65 per game. Both McMurry and Hardin-Simmons are allowing more than 69.5 per game.
The team has an advantage in experience, losing only two seniors from last season. They have already demonstrated they can be successful on the court. McMurry is regrouping with the loss of three seniors from last year.
UMHB has been able to win when it counts. This past season, the Cru and McMurry played four times, which resulted in each team winning two games. The final game was in the second round at McMurry in the NCAA Division III Championship. The Crusaders showed the McMurry War Hawks that it did not matter where they played, controlling the lead the entire game.
The Crusader final score was 70-67, which eliminated McMurry from the tournament. This win allowed the Cru to make their first Sweet 16 appearance and best ever showing in program history.
D3Hoops.com also recognizes the Crusaders’ success. In its Top 25 Preseason Poll, UMHB was picked 16th in the nation.
The Crusaders will continue their national bound championship season today, Jan. 10, at 7:30 p.m. against Concordia University at home.