Daily Dive – And Then There Were Eight
What a wild ride the first two days it’s been in Kansas City! It’s also what makes the NAIA so much fun! There is so much parity across the NAIA and because there is no National TV coverage of NAIA Basketball, most people don’t understand how good other teams are until we get to see them in the National Championships. Upsets do happen as well, just like the NCAA Tournament, the best team doesn’t always win. However, it doesn’t take much to look at the NAIA fan base on social media and to know that generally speaking, most people think the teams in THEIR league, or THEIR region are the best in the country! It’s okay to think that, because it’s who you follow and who you watch! Just know there is great basketball all across the NAIA!!
Day 2 Highlights from the NAIA:
Day 2 Recap from the NAIA:
We have four GREAT games today in the Men’s Quarterfinals:
Jamestown vs Shawnee State NOON CT
This should be a fun one to start the day off. You have two great big men in EJ Onu and Mason Walters who are going to battle it out. Onu was the Mid-South Player of the Year and is coming off of a 27pt, 10reb, 10blk triple-double in the Opening Round in Kansas City. Walters was the GPAC Player of the Year and had 26pts, 12rebs, 5assts in the opening round win against Faulkner. Jamestown was also able to find the hot stroke from the outside as Mark Kjos led the way with 8-12 from 3. As good as the big men in this game are, it will be interesting to see who else can step up. James Jones for Shawnee has been awesome this season. He isn’t just a great scorer. but can really pass the ball as well. As good as Onu has been this year, James Jones is just as important to this teams success. For Jamestown, they have several guys who can and have contributed this season. Jack Talley had a bit of a rough 1st game, but you expect him to bounce back today! If Jamestown is going to move on to the Fab Four though, they are going to have to win the rebounding battle!
Bethel (Ind.) vs Saint Francis 2PM CT
Two teams from the Crossroads League who obviously know each other well. Saint Francis played it’s best basketball late in the year led by Antwaan Cushingberry and David Ejah. Cushingberry really had a big opening round game putting up 28pts to help lead the Cougars past Stillman in a 69-67 thriller! Bethel has been playing it’s best defense of the season in the National Championships. Led by Trevion Crews they knocked off top-seed Indiana Wesleyan to make it to today’s game. For those of you who haven’t seen a Cushingberry/Crews matchup, you’re in for a real treat today! Buckle up, because this one should be one of the best of the day!
Loyola vs Lewis-Clark State 4PM CT
This is a very interesting matchup. You have the high motor, scrappy and talented Loyola team vs a Lewis-Clark State team that shares the ball, makes the extra pass and trades good shots for GREAT shots. Loyola will no doubt try to guard the 3pt line after watching LCSC torch the nets yesterday. Myles Burns is the real deal and is one of the BEST two way players in the NAIA. Zach Wrightsil is the other 2x All-American on this team and then you add in sharp shooter Andrew Fava and this is a team that can win it all. To do that though they have to get by a Lewis-Clark State team that has been so good all season long. While Trystan Bradley leads them in scoring and is a very good player, the Warriors leader is Damek Mitchell. Mitchell is a do-it-all PG, who loves to facilitate and dish the rock, but can also score when his team needs him too as well. We have seen him take over games in the 2nd Half when the Warriors were in need. We presume that Burns will be guarding Mitchell and if so, this is going to be a fun battle to watch!
Carroll vs SAGU 6PM CT
SAGU is coming off of fun battle with Morningside last night. A game in which they won 90-85 behind their 3-headed monster of Joshua Kashila, Joel Polius and Isaiah Boiling. That trio has been so great all season long and they are going to go up against a great defensive team in Carroll. Carroll really played well last night, taking down the remaining top-seed William Penn. The last time the NAIA had a National Championship game, this Carroll team was in it. They are no stranger to this environment and have two GREAT players in Shamrock Campbell and Jovan Sljivancanin! Jocan was spectacular against William Penn as he went for 20pts and really helped to open the flood gates in the 1st half. They will need another performance like that today to get past a good SAGU team, but they are very capable of winning this game. We are also looking forward to the battle of Delton Deal (SAGU) and Kurt Paulson (Carroll), two great coaches who are so great tactically. It’s short rest on back to back days, but looking forward to watching these two coaches play chess today!