The Park University men’s basketball team is going dancing, Wednesday (March 15) at 6:30 p.m., in a rematch of the Pirates’ first-round game from the 2010 championship against Georgetown College (Ky.) at historic Municipal Auditorium in downtown Kansas City.
Wednesday, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) released its 32-team bracket for the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship as well as the final regular-season edition of the Division I Men’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25. Park is No. 18 in the poll, down one from the last regular-season poll, while Georgetown also dropped, from No. 12 to No. 15.
“It’s tough to even make this tournament – everyone is good when you get to this point in the season,” said Park coach Jason Kline. “We have some guys who are very hungry and have worked very hard to get here. Georgetown has been incredibly tough to beat all year, and I think it’s a matchup of two teams that are a tough out. We are hoping for a great atmosphere and an unforgettable experience for our kids.”
The Pirates are led by a bevy of all-conference honorees, finishing second in the American Midwest Conference at 17-5 with an overall record of 21-7, falling in the AMC semifinals to fellow qualifier Harris-Stowe State University.
AMC Player of the Year Xavielle Brown is the team’s top performer at nearly 21 points per game, playing in only 22 of the team’s 28 contests. It’s Brown’s second year at the top of the all-conference list, repeating as AMC Player of the Year, while BJ Watson is on the first team for the first time in his career after matching honorable-mention selection Zach Rutland with 116 assists. Both guards average double figures, while Ikem Eriobuna, another all-league selection as an honorable mention honoree, has nearly 60 blocked shots at 6-foot-9, in the paint.
The Tigers are 23-7 coming in to the tournament, knocked out of the Mid-South Conference tournament in the semifinal round and Georgetown is led by Troy Steward’s 16.3 points per game, 9.7 rebounds per game for Chris Coffey, and a turnover margin that is fourth-best in the NAIA, averaging 4.3 fewer turnovers per game than opponents.