By this time we all know what an amazing season the Vikings men’s basketball team has had. Their trip to the Elite Eight was great for the University, great for the program, and great for me, as I got to go with the team and broadcast the two games from Tacoma back to you. Their incredible, improbable eighteen-point comeback against Sul Ross State on Friday night only made the all-Wisconsin Final the next day even more exciting. While the team just missed pulling off a victory which would have sent them, this reporter, and many other Viking Fans to Salem, Virginia, I still say it was the best basketball game, at any level, that I have ever watched.I want to give my own personal congratulations to the Vikings team, and the coaching staff led by John Tharp. While you will see Coach Tharp’s thank you to the Lawrence community elsewhere in this issue of The Lawrentian, it is he who should be thanked. You will never find a nicer, kinder man-unless you are on the opposing team, or a referee who has made the wrong call. Coach Tharp and his assistants were amazing hosts, and they made my trip out to Salem one I will never forget.
The players should also be commended for the job they did. You have to remember that these trips, first to Storm Lake, Iowa, and then to Tacoma, came during 10th week and finals Reading Period respectfully. All these guys, who worked their tails off every day for an added month, still took finals with the rest of us. Imagine being gone and unable to study for most of reading period and for a good chunk of the week before, then coming back and taking finals. It’s not an easy task, and these guys did it with poise and confidence.
As I look back at an amazing season, and see all the team has accomplished, and all I have seen, I can only specifically thank the seniors on this team. Rob Nenahlo, Chris MacGillis, Brent Vandermause and Steve Vincenteno were true leaders down the stretch. While it was normally only Rob and Chris making headlines in the games, Brent and Steve are critical to where this team had come from and to where it is now. These men are true leaders, and I commend them for a job well done.
While we will lose four, there are still fourteen more who will return next fall with the bitter taste of defeat still in their mouths. With All-American Chris Braier, and coach Tharp behind the bench, I wouldn’t want to face our team. The team has the potential to do this again next season, and you can bet I’ll be along for the ride again.