Summer is officially here, which means most NAIA programs are gearing up for summer camps, and trying to finalize their recruiting classes. One of the beauties of NAIA basketball is that you have a lot of different philosophies in recruiting, and it is fun for me to watch rosters come together. We will dive deeper into team and player breakdowns in the Fall, when 2019-2020 rosters start to be posted, but for those of you who are reading this page and don’t know what NAIA basketball is all about, I challenge you to get out and watch some games this upcoming season. Outside of the exceptional talent at this level, you will also see some great coaching, and great college basketball environments. As I was starting to think about some of the different topics I wanted to highlight and cover for this season, I thought it would be most appropriate to start off by closing the door on last season with a breakdown of the NAIA National Champions from last year.
2019 National Champions
A huge congratulations to both Georgetown (KY) (NAIA DI) and Spring Arbor (MI) (NAIA DII) on sensational years that ended with National Championships! Two really well coached teams, who have great tradition, and have the pieces to build around to make another serious run next year.
Georgetown College (KY) (33-4)
NAIA DI National Champions
- Won the Mid-South regular season and conference tournament titles
- #1 in DI in Total Scoring Offense, Total Offensive Rebounds
- #2 in DI in Total Rebounding Margin
- #3 in DI in Scoring Margin
Georgetown plays in one of the toughest leagues in NAIA DI, and are coached by one of the best coaches at any level in Chris Briggs, who is now a 2x-National Championship winning Head Coach. They were led all year by their 3 All-Americans, Eljay Cowherd (2nd Team), Troy Steward (Honorable-Mention), Chris Coffey (Honorable Mention). While all three were on the All-Tournament Team, Coffey earned the MVP of the National Tournament. The Tigers actually battled their way through the first three games of the tournament. They were tied with #8 Seed Rocky Mountain (Mont) at half time before pulling away in 2nd half to win by 20, and then had back to back scares as they beat LSU-Shreveport 82-79 in second round, and knocked off a very pesky Arizona Christian team 80-78 in the quarterfinals. They then were able to keep William Carey (Miss) at bay as they won the semifinal game 94-83, before cruising in the National Title game 68-48 against Carroll (Mont).
Spring Arbor (Mich) (30-7)
NAIA DII National Champions
- #4 In DII in Assist/Turnover Ratio
- #5 in DII in 3pt Fg Pct, and Total Assists
- #6 in DII in FG Pct
The Crossroads League wins another national title as Spring Arbor took home the 2018-2019 DII National Championship. It is always a scary combination when you have one of the best coaches in the country paired up with one of the best guards in the country, and Spring Arbor had that in Head Coach Ryan Cottingham, and All-American (1stTeam) Guard Paul Marandet. Now add in Sophomore Forward Brandon Durnell, who was also an All-American (Honorable Mention), and two tough senior guards in Tom Hamilton and Luke Barber and you start to see why they won the NAIA DII National Title. This was a fun team to watch this year, and will have the fire power to repeat next year. This year’s title run started off with a 35 point win over Indiana Tech in the first round. The 2nd round game with Jamestown ended up being a really good one, as Jamestown made a huge run to get back in the game before Spring Arbor shut the door and won 85-81. From there Spring Arbor coasted a bit into the Finals with a 12 point win over IU-East, and a 16 point win over Marian. Brandon Durnell put on a clinic in the National Title game scoring 32 points in helping Spring Arbor secure a National Title with an 82-76 win over Oregon Tech.
I didn’t feel right moving on to a new year without giving the respect due to our two defending National Champions in Georgetown and Spring Arbor. These two programs have set the bar for the 2019-2020 season, as everyone is now officially working to dethrone them. I will start to have new posts out regularly, so if you haven’t subscribed to the site, please do!