PIKEVILLE, Ky. – Ask any athlete why they play their sport, they’ll answer you in two words: The Ring.
For last year’s members of the men’s basketball team, that dream will come to fruition at halftime of Saturday’s football game when they will receive their rings from last year’s national championship.
The team will be rewarded for winning the 2010 Buffalo Funds NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship during halftime of the Bears’ game with Kentucky Wesleyan College, which kicks off at 6 p.m. at the W.C. Hambley Athletics Complex.
“This is a very exciting day for us, one the players in particular have been pointing toward since we left Kansas City,” said Coach Kelly Wells, who was named national coach of the year at the end of last year’s tournament. “I’m more excited for them than for us. It means a great deal to them and we’re excited to have them together, for the most part, once again.”
Nearly every member of last year’s team will be at the event. Quincy Hankins-Cole, who is playing professionally in Iceland, of course will not be available.
The Bears became the first team to knock off five seeded teams en route to the title, with all five opponents being among the top nine seeds in last year’s event.
The wins came over defending champion Oklahoma Baptist, the previous season’s runner-up Azusa Pacific, top-seeded Robert Morris, fifth-ranked Martin Methodist and third-seeded Mountain State in the finals, an overtime thriller that finished 83-76.
Trevor Setty, who returns for his junior season, was named the tournament MVP. “We’ve been so excited about these rings and looking forward to this all summer long,” he said. “We’ve seen them, but we haven’t gotten our yet and we’re pumped to finally have them on our fingers.
“It’ll also be nice to have most of the guys back here. We haven’t seen some of them in a while so we’re excited about that too. This means a great deal to us.”
Wells is appreciative of all those who have contributed to make this a reality. “The people who have made donations or want to make donations toward this have made this a great day for our student-athletes,” he said. “We will never be able to thank them enough for what they’ve done for us.”