COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Columbus State men's basketball team has had a storied season to say the least. A team who was predicted to finish second-to-last in the conference and who concluded last season 8-20 wasn't expected to get this far. A team who is in a transitional year between Div II and III wasn't expected to get this far. But they did and they're ready to compete.
Coach Ed Thompson has coached his team into a cohesive squad built on team play and selflessness. According to sophomore forward Lamarr Barnes, "Coach Ed made us hungry; conditioning us and encouraging us to work harder."
The team consists of five freshman and seven sophomores who bring a solid fan base filled with devoted family members and friends. Seventy-five percent of the team is from Central Ohio and everyone is from Ohio.
Columbus State ended the OCCAC season in second place at 10-4 and overall season at 24-6. After an incredible run last week, defeating Edison, Lakeland, and Cuyahoga in the District 11 tournament, the Cougars face even tougher opponents in the NJCAA DII tournament. "We feel confident going into the tournament", said Barnes. "We're focused on defense - when we play good defense we are unstoppable."
Sixteen teams will compete for the national championship in Danville, Illinois. In the first round, No. 10 Columbus State will play No. 7 Essex County College (Newark, NJ). This will be Columbus State's first meeting with Essex County, where the Wolverines are 26-4. The teams will meet in Tuesday's second game, at noon at Danville Area Community College. The winner will advance to face the winner of Game #1 (No. 2 Lansing CC vs. No. 15 Dakota County).
Conditioning drills are the focus for this week's practices. "We know we have to get out and run," said Thompson.
Link to watch games: http://www.njcaatv.com/landing/index
Link for tournament information: www.dacc.edu/njcaa
Link for live results: www.twitter.com/cscc_cougars