The men’s basketball team defeated John Brown University 69-56 Thursday night.
This was the Rams’ last regular-season home game, and forward Akeem White said the victory left the team feeling more than ready for the SAC Tournament.
The SAC Tournament is March 3-7; the Final Four will be held in the Hutcherson Center in Plainview, according to soonerathletic.org.
“We’re mentally and physically ready; practice helped us a lot to prepare, so I feel like I’m ready and also my teammates are ready as well,” White said.
The team’s overall record is 21-8, significantly better than last year’s 14-16 record at the end of the season, according to ramsports.net.
Although White was not part of the team last year, he credited head coach Brennen Shingleton for the drastic improvement.
“Coach did a good job recruiting us, especially the people from out of state,” White said.
Aside from the recruitment, White said several seniors were also brought back on the team, including guard Joe Cook-Green and forwards Sam Lorenzen and Shaun Rost.
“We just became like brothers and family and brought it to the court and put it all together,” White said.
Lorenzen also said he feels ready for the SAC Tournament.
“I mean, this was our goal since we all got on campus at the beginning of the year, so we’ve been preparing for this all season,” he said.
Lorenzen said recruitment played a huge part in the team’s impressive turnaround from last year.
“It starts with recruiting; we got a whole new group in this year,” Lorenzen said. “Coach did a really good job this year of keeping us all together and getting us starting the game plan ready for each game.”
Lorenzen said that in addition to focusing on defense as the team has been doing all season, execution is also important.
“We emphasize defense every day,” Lorenzen said. “We just got to execute.”
Shingleton said the team needed this victory after four games in the past eight days.
“This was the week we needed,” Shingleton said. “We decided to play our roles, we decided to be tough, we played hard.”
Shingleton said the new NAIA poll will come out Tuesday and there’s a good chance the team will qualify for nationals in Kansas City.
“From here on out, it’s one and done basketball, so it’s another challenge we’ll have to fight,” he said.
Shingleton said that the team’s performance last season was an important time to reflect and find new ways to improve.
“Last year was one of those years that was a great chapter of my life. I learned a ton. I made a ton of mistakes,” Shingleton said. “You’re gonna have years like that when you just can’t get it right.”
Shingleton said the team will find out who they’ll play against in the SAC Tournament Saturday night.
The Rams will play their first SAC tournament game Tuesday night in the Sid Richardson Center. For more information, go to ramsports.net.