Nationals: Tigers hoopin’ it up

Ladies sprint into record books

By David Parker

This year’s Lady Tigers became the first Olivet women’s basketball team to win a National Athletic Intercollegiate Association (NAIA) tournament game after defeating Southern Polytechnic State University Wednesday afternoon in Jackson, Tennessee, 87-79.

While the team lost to Saint Xavier University 91-101 in the finals of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament on March 5, they are focused on doing as well as possible in the tournament.

The Tigers, seeded fourth in their bracket, will take on top-seeded and defending champion Union University at 6:15 p.m. on Friday. The Lady Tigers faced the Bulldogs earlier this season on December 4, falling 88-96 after leading by 10 at halftime.

However, the Tigers are prepared for any and all opponents.

“Our goal is to go out there and play Tigerball,” said senior forward Simone Coburn. “We must take each game at a time, play our hardest, play cool, play together, eventually make it to the championship game and win Nationals.”

Freshman guard Liz Bart agreed.

“We want to take it one game at a time and hopefully win the whole thing,” Bart said. “Coach [Doug Porter] told us in the beginning that we had what it takes to go to Nationals. He told us that our team could accomplish great things. We’re really excited to see what Nationals has in store for us.”

However the tournament ends, the Tigers have certainly had a successful season. The team broke several national records thanks to the effort put out by all of the players. The team was led by Coburn, who averaged a team best of 12.8 points per game. Coburn, junior guard Danielle Pipal, and red-shirt sophomore guard Danielle Tolbert were named to the CCAC All-Conference team.

Though the Tigers know they have had a great season, they are focusing on the task at hand. While the tournament can only be viewed via a subscription-based service on NAIA’s website, the tournament finals will be televised nationally on CBS College Sports Television on March 22.

Men go down fighting

The men's basketball starters huddle before playing Robert Morris University for the CCAC Championship on March 4. They lost, 68-76, but still managed to qualify for the NAIA tournament.

By Andrew Kriz

After a season initially filled with uncertainty, the Olivet’s men’s basketball team earned a trip to the NAIA National Tournament where they played a hard-fought game against No. 7 ranked Georgetown College (Kentucky) but fell 76-83 on March 17.

The players looked forward to their trip to Kansas City after a long season.

“I think that it is an awesome accomplishment for our team, considering where we were a month or two ago at 8-8,” said redshirt junior guard Antonio Marshall.

Recapping the 2010-2011 season and reviewing the road the Tigers took could certainly be described as an uphill climb.

The battle involved finding chemistry and learning to play together, Nick Birkey told GlimmerGlass reporter Andrew Kriz in a previous interview.

The team had a rough start, going one game above .500 (8-7) in their first 15 games.

The second half began after the team’s journey to the Pacific where they played against National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II Brigham Young-Hawaii and won.

The team finished the final 15 games of the regular season 12-3. Two of their losses came to Robert Morris, who was ranked first in the NAIA polls for most of the season.

During a six-game winning streak from February 3 to February 19, Olivet won the first four games by double digits.

Another of those six wins also included an 81-76 victory over Chicago State, the second year in a row Olivet has won the match-up. Both wins are the only victories over an NCAA Division I opponent in Olivet’s men’s basketball history.

At the end of the season, the Tigers finished second in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC), both in the regular season and in the tournament after falling to rival Robert Morris, 68-76. They were ranked No. 27 in the final NAIA poll and made it into the national tournament with an at-large bid.

But the players knew they had to work hard to get to the tournament, under the direction of head coach Ralph Hodge.

“Coach Hodge really [did] a good job of getting us better for each practice, situation and game,” Marshall said.

“It [was] fun getting better with our younger players, and our older guys really [stepped] up and [played] big.”

Some of those older players included Marshall and seniors Cory Hainlen and Nick Klomstad. All three were named to the CCAC All-Conference team.

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