Maroons perfect record earns them NCAA spotBy Jennifer Leovy
The University mens basketball team has secured its reign in the University Athletic Association, winning three of the last four conference championship titles. Their success also has earned them a spot as one of 48 teams in the 2000 NCAA Division III Championship tournament, in which they will begin play this Saturday.
The tournament can bring a tremendous amount of enthusiasm to the campus and team, so its important to try to maintain an emphasis on a couple of simple points to avoid losing focus among all the excitement, said Head Coach Mike McGrath. The biggest thing that we need to concentrate on in the tournament is the same thing we focus on in every game, and that is playing with a lot of energy defensively and a lot of composure offensively.
That focus has led to a 15-0 UAA season, which gives Chicago its second perfect record in UAA play. The Maroons have won 51 of their last 52 home games, including 35 straight UAA home contests. Chicagos 34-game, home-court winning streak is the longest active streak in the NCAA Division III. They have won 22 of 25 Division III games and are ranked 11th in the nation.
The Maroons game plan requires talent and teamwork, according to fourth-year student and team captain Kurt Riemer. We have a lot of guys who are really talented players, said Riemer. We play well together as a team. Each one of us has confidence in the others on this team—that they are playing as well as they can and that they will get the job done. Riemer said each player has contributed to the teams success by showing his commitment physically and emotionally during competition and practice.
First-year center Derek Reich, second-year guard Tyler Smithson, third-year guard Brad Henderson, second-year forward Jon Poyer and Riemer will start Saturdays game. Henderson was named to the 1999-2000 GTE Academic All-District Five Mens Basketball Team. Reich ranks No. 1 in free-throw percentage among Division III freshman and 16th among all Division III players. Smithson leads the team with 79 assists.
The Maroons will compete against the winner of tonights game between Ripon College and St. Johns University at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 4, in Gentile Center on Loyola Universitys north-shore campus.
The game will be played at Loyola to accommodate the UAA Indoor Track & Field Championships at Henry Crown Field House on the same day. The University will provide extra buses for fans who would like to show their team support Saturday night. Buses will depart from the Field House at 6:30 p.m. and return to campus immediately following the competition.
Fans living outside Chicago will be able to listen to a live audio broadcast of Saturdays game on the mens basketball Web page, located at http://www.uchicago.edu/student/athletics/mensbasketball/mbk.htm.
If the Maroons win, they will proceed to sectional or round-16 action the following weekend. Opponent and location information for these games will be determined during the course of the tournament.
The final-four competition will be held in Salem, Virginia, on Friday, March 17, and Saturday, March 18.