After an eye-catching run and upset win against Southern Indiana University in the GLVC Tournament, Truman State University men’s basketball lost to Lewis University 85-75 in the semifinal round. The Bulldogs’ season is not yet finished. The men held on to seventh place in the Midwest Region, sending the ‘Dogs dancing to the NCAA Div. II National Tournament for the first time since 2006. The opening round will place the purple and white against Ferris State University Saturday.
Head Coach Chris Foster says the team’s tournament berth had long been a goal for the program, and he says because of that, even, graduated players had a hand in the building process to make this dream come true. Foster says, historically, the team has had some issues getting into postseason play, and it was an obstacle the players had to get over. He says it was vindicating to finally reach the NCAA Tournament and see that the program is doing all the right things they need to make Truman a postseason competitor.
Foster says a lot of the team’s success has been in overcoming adversity. He says all players on the team have been doing their part — the younger players have been relieving the many injured starters, the upperclassmen have taken a leadership role on the team, and the injured players continue to cheer on the team, or even play, despite their injuries.
“We’ve got some depth, and we’ve been able to overcome injuries and sicknesses as we’ve come down the stretch because the next man just steps in and does their job to help us,” Foster says. “For the time being, we need to rest up and keep healthy. [Sophomore guard] Jake [Velky] is still nursing his ankle, and [sophomore guard] Nate [Messer] just came off hand surgery … We aren’t used to having a week-long break between games, so we need to use this time to make sure we’re rested up and at 100 percent for Saturday.”
Messer says since breaking his hand about four weeks ago, he has had to sit out most of the team’s games, and he says because of this, he is excited to get back into the lineup on Saturday. Messer says the team has shown a lot of determination this season, and has battled through what he calls the toughest schedule in the region. He says winning against Ferris State on Saturday will come down to “the little things” on offense and defense — getting multiple defensive stops in a row, capitalizing on offense and keeping a positive outlook.
“I think [Ferris State] is a good matchup for us,” Messer says. “I think it’ll be an interesting experience playing someone we haven’t played all season … A lot of our conference’s teams made it to the tournament, so I think it’ll be a nice change of pace to play someone else.”