MURFREESBORO – “We’re still the defending champion until someone beats us.”
Chowan University Men’s Basketball Coach Jim Tribbett has his team thinking repeat as they head into next week’s National Christian College Athletic Association South Region tournament.
The Hawks, who won the South Region a season ago and advanced to the NCCAA National Tournament, enter the tournament as a number three seed, but the Chowan squad has history on their side.
“We’ve done it before so we know we can be successful,” Tribbett said shortly after the brackets were released Friday. “We play pretty well on the road and our schedule, which has been aggressive and sometimes overwhelming, has prepared us for the tournament.”
Chowan enters the South Region tournament 11-14 overall, but may well be coming into their own during the latter half of the 2006-2007 campaign.
“We’ve had a break of 14 days since our last game,” Tribbett said. “In that time we’ve had three or four of the best practices we have all season.
“For whatever reason, whether it’s because we’re healthier than we’ve been all season or the kids are excited about March madness or whatever, it’s been a good two weeks,” he continued.
As of Friday, brackets indicated Chowan will enter the tournament as the number three seed and will meet sixth-seeded Carver Bible College at 6 p.m. Monday.
Tribbett said his team would be ready to be on the floor again.
“We had an informal scrimmage with Athletes in Action Wednesday,” he said. “We played everybody and it gave us the chance to work against somebody other than ourselves, which I thought was important. We also had good competition, which I also thought was important.”
The coach gave his squad Thursday off before they return to work Friday and Saturday. They will leave Sunday morning and travel the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where they will hold practice. After that they will continue to Franklin Springs, Georgia and the campus of Emmanuel College where the tournament will be held.
As he looks forward to getting his team back in the South Region, Tribbett said he knew there were some things in the favor of the Hawks.
“We have four starters back off last year’s championship team and that experience will be valuable,” he said. “Leaders like Trayvon (Lathan) and Marcus (Artis) as well as Montino (Williams) certainly gives us an edge.”
Another experience that helps the Hawks is the number of tournaments they participated in this season.
“It’s really important to experience the tournament format,” Tribbett said. “When you go to Mt. Olive and play in a high-level, high-energy environment, that helps later on.”
Still, the key for the Hawks will be focusing on the tournament at hand, but their coach isn’t concerned.
“When it’s one and done, you have to play and coach with a sense of urgency,” he said. “If that doesn’t make the hair stand up on the back of your neck, nothing will.”
Host Emmanuel College is the tournament’s number one seed while Tennessee Temple University is number two. Chowan is then followed by fourth seeded Pensacola Christian, fifth seeded North Greenville and sixth seeded Carver.
The tournament will run through Wednesday and will feature the championship game on that day. The time has not been slated.