For the first time since back-to-back appearances in 1996 and 1997, the Le Moyne College men??s basketball team has made the NCAA Division II tournament. Selected on Sunday as a sixth seed, the Dolphins will face third-seed Saint Anselm in the East Regional quarterfinals at Southern Connecticut State??s Moore Field House.
It??s the program??s 11th appearance in the NCAA Men??s Basketball Championships and the first under head coach Steve Evans.
??It??s amazing when you finally accomplish a goal,?? said Evans. ?? one of the first things I did when I got the job here [in 2000] was leave a space next to all the other banners and thought, 'that will be our next banner'. Each year I??ve looked at that empty space. Sometimes it??s darkest before dawn. Last year we had a pretty good team but we had some injuries. Sometimes the years just start to go by and you wonder if it??s ever going to happen. I take a lot of satisfaction from [making the tournament] but I know it wasn??t done by myself. There??s been assistant coaches, players, all of those people have helped build the program to where it is right now.??
The Dolphins enter tournament play with a 17-11 record, which includes a tight 76-74 home win over Saint Anselm on January 22.
??They don??t have a lot of size and that??s something we??ve got to take advantage of. They shoot fast and they play hard,?? said 6-foot-11 center Jim Jansen.
With the biggest player in the league on their end, the Dolphins will have a definite size advantage on Saturday.
The Dolphins?? attack includes four players who average in double-digit scoring. Senior guard Nate Champion averages a team-high 16.3 points per game. Jansen, a graduate student in his last year of eligibility, averages 14.3 points. Jansen leads the Dolphins in rebounds per game (6.9), field goal percentage (67.8-percent) and blocks (2.8). Junior guard Nat Gause averages 14.6 points from the bench and sophomore guard Qwadere Lovell averages 10.4.
Le Moyne will tip off against the Hawks at noon on Saturday. A win would be the first tournament W since the 1987-88 season and would pit Le Moyne against the winner of New Haven-Bloomfield in the semifinals at 5 p.m. on Sunday. The regional championship tips off at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.