The Anderson University Men’s Basketball team is headed to the NCAA Division III national tournament for the first time in the school’s history.
The tournament starts this weekend, with 64 teams competing for a national championship.
Coach Carter Collins, who is in his first year as interim head coach at AU said that a team needs talent, a little bit of luck and belief to become a national champion team. His players have had that belief all year long.
He said, “There wasn’t a ton expected of us before the season started because of how young we were and because of how many good players we graduated. And we kind of had this mindset throughout the year of going out and proving people wrong.”
“There’s probably a number of other teams that would have kind of accepted, you know, okay, this is going to be a rebuilding year, maybe next year will be better because we’re so young,” he said. “But those guys did not accept that.”
Jordan Gadis, a junior guard, said from where his team was expected to be, to now, he feels like they’ve made something happen.
The team got an invitation to the national tournament by winning the HCAC tournament last weekend. AU beat Hanover College and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology on back-to-back days. Collins said, “I felt like this past weekend was kind of the culmination of that [their work all season].”
Going into the tournament, Collins recognizes a step up in competition. He said, “We’re really looking forward to getting out there and kind of seeing how we stack up with the best of the best.”
He said, “It’s not going to be easy. Every single game will be tough, but I like our chances against anybody that we might run into.”
Freshman wing, Elijah Mattingly, said, “If you lose your season’s over, so having that Super Bowl mentality is good.”
Collins said one of the team’s strengths is unselfishness on offense. According to him, the men on the team do not have ego or attitude problems. They are all willing to show up every day and put in the work. He said, “That makes us pretty difficult to guard because we have a number of talented players and if teams tried to focus in on just one or two of those guys, we got plenty of other guys that can beat you.”
Gadis said, “Our biggest strength is our chemistry, our togetherness, our willing to fight for each other.”
Collins said, “I really am incredibly fortunate to have had this be the first team that I could have worked with. It couldn’t possibly have been better.”
The Ravens play Mount Union on March 3 at 7:40 p.m. at Timken Gymnasium at The College of Wooster in Ohio.