Saturday, March 26, 2016

NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!

What an unbelievable journey, with a great group of young men and coaches. What a great day to be a Viking! Augustana men’s basketball captured the 2016 NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship in front of just under 2,000 fans at Dr Pepper Arena in Frisco, Texas on Saturday afternoon, many of which were decked out in Navy & Gold. This was my first experience at the men’s Division II National Championship game, but I’d be willing to say that all of you Augustana fans created one of the most memorable atmosphere’s for a national championship game in quite some time. Kudos to each and every one of you for your support.

To the fans, thank you so much. Your support in Frisco, Sioux Falls and around the world has been outstanding. Don’t think that your messages, notes and Tweets have gone unnoticed. We truly saw how great it is to be an Augustana Viking with your show of support for the men’s basketball team during this run. As I’m writing this, at 30,000 feet in the air and in the most comfortable plane I have ever been on, the actuality of what we just experienced hasn’t quite set in yet. A group of 14 young men, 14 of 1,800-plus students at Augustana University accomplished something they will never, and I mean never forget. Don’t think for a second that all of you didn’t have something to do with it. We received comments from the national basketball committee, and the great people of Frisco about how great the Augustana fans were and how happy they were to have all of us in their city to take part in this event.

To the senior class, thanks for the ride. Back-to-back conference champions, back-to-back tournament champions, region champs and now national champs. I know I don’t need to remind everyone of all the accomplishments of this group. Three national tournament appearances in four years is quite the impressive run, especially how it ended this year. Over 6,000 career points, and 2,000 career rebounds will graduate this year. That’s quite a special group.

Following the on-court ceremony, the celebration carried over into the team hotel with hundreds, and I mean hundreds of Augustana fans filling the hotel restaurant to share in the excitement together. Upon finishing up my work at the arena, it was quite the sight to see and hear all of the fans’ excitement over this team. Fight on for Augustana even broke out in the hotel and could be heard from eight floors up as I was packing my bags.

The team was able to enjoy the championship with friends and family on the court and at the hotel before loading the bus at 6:30 p.m. to head to the airport. We had the luxury of getting a chartered flight out of Dallas and were set up with a nice two hour and five minute flight home. By the time you read this, we all will have arrived home safely and gone our separate ways for the night but none of us will ever forget what we just experienced.

I hope you all have enjoyed the coverage of this remarkable journey to the Elite Eight. I would like to thank others that also shared our experiences with you and everyone back home. Thank you to Nate Burdine and Jolene Loetscher from MudMile. All of the great videos you put together for fans were a great addition to our trip and will be cherished forever. I would also like to thank Mark Ovenden and Nick Huntimer from KDLT, Travis Fossing from KELO, Elliot Nathan and Jordan Born from KSFY, Ian Frazer with the Argus Leader and David Brown from Midco Sports Network for all of your hard work to keep all of our fans and everyone in South Dakota and around the world up-to-date with great reports from Frisco.

I don’t know if any of you picked up on my superstitions throughout the coverage, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Adam Beyer proved to be lucky as the featured photo on GoAugie.com for pregame stories as did Alex Richter on pregame graphics. I’d also like to throw a little #NerdStat your direction. My suit rotation in postseason play ended up with a perfect 9-0 record. I wore the same suit combination for the quarterfinals of the NSIC Tournament, the regional tournament and the national championships (don’t get any ideas, I had them all dry cleaned in between). In the quarters, it was the grey sport coat, blue and white striped shirt (no tie, four games is a long day to wear a tie), blue dress pants and cowboy boots. Semifinals; black suit, black shoes, blue shirt with blue/silver/black tie. Finals: grey sport coat, white shirt, light blue tie. I’m not superstitious at all am I?

One last thought, if you'd like to look back on social media reaction of the entire trip to the Elite Eight, check out #AugieMadness on Twitter.

Thanks again for following and as always, Go Vikings!

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