Men enter March Madness with a mission

By Kelsey Vann

The men’s basketball team has been hard at work since the Feb. 24 loss to Concordia in the ASC Conference Championship Tournament.

The Cru earned a first round bye in the NCAA Division III Tournament, which gave the team two weeks to prepare a game plan.

Head Coach Ken DeWeese said, “I think that’s what this game is going to come down to, who has the most attempts at scoring, and that will come from team defense and rebounding.”

The men took advantage of this time off from playing games and started focusing on the basics. The philosophy of UMHB basketball is to prepare for the next game.

Junior guard James Allen drives past a physical Concordia defense as the Cru defeat the Tornados in the second round of the National Tournament 117 to 92 . The Crusaders will go on to play Witworth University in search of Elite 8 birth. Photo by Jake Stamps/The Bells.

Senior sport management and business major Thomas Orr said, “Mentally, we watched a lot of film, and our coaches prepared a pretty good scouting report. Physically, we had a couple days off to rest, but we also practiced to stay in shape at the same time.”

Looking back on the loss to Concordia, Orr said, “We didn’t play how we usually played throughout the season ,and we struggled from the free throw line.”

Agreeing and adding to this statement, junior sport management major Antonie Chaney said, “We broke down on defense, too.”

The Cru put the loss behind them and pulled everything together in order to push past Concordia last Staurday, for the third time this season.

With the fast up-and-down style of play of the Tornados, the Cru found success in their transition game. Not only was the offense clicking, the defense was what carried the team to victory.

“Our defense overall was outstanding, and if we can hold teams under their averages and get stops, we know we can go to the other end and convert on offense,” freshman pre-physical therapy major Russell Green said.

Playing the same team four times in one season comes with the headaches of having to prepare for the same things over and over.

It isn’t always ideal to play a team from your conference in national tournament, but the team took a positive approach to it.

“The hardest thing was probably going over everything we already knew. It seemed repetitive, but we knew we still had to do those things in order to achieve success,” Green said.

With the victory, the men will travel to Washington to face Witworth University in a rematch. The Cru took a road trip to Washington to play Witworth over Thanksgiving break, but ended up falling to them by 9 points.

Although the stakes are high at this point in the season, the team is still sticking to what has been working.

“You absolutely have to work hard, at what you are working on, every minute that you are in preparation,” DeWeese said.

This team has a chance to do something that no team in program history has done, and that is advance to the elite 8 round of the tournament.

Senior wing Thomas Orr expressed his motivation for this season. “We are just trying to set the bar high for future teams.”

Author: The Bells Staff

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