THIS WEEK: Dakota State (24-9 overall record) continues their Cinderella postseason run in the NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Tournament. The Trojans play in their second-ever 'Elite Eight' appearance in school history, facing Grace (Ind.) (23-9) Saturday evening at 7 p.m. The two teams battle for a spot in the NAIA's Final Four at the Keeter Gymnasium in Point Lookout, Mo.â€”hosted by College of the Ozarks.
TROJANS CONTINUES HOT POSTSEASON RUN: Dakota State continues their hot postseason run as they play in the NAIA's Elite Eight in the national tournament in Point Lookout, Mo. The Trojans began the postseason by winning the Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) Conference Postseason Tournament for the second straight year, winning three games. DSU won the first two games at the national tournament, defeating No. 5 seed Warner Pacific (Ore.) 89-80 in the first round and St. Thomas (Fla.) in a nail-biter by the score of 61-60 in the 'Sweet Sixteen' round.
DSU VS. TEAMS IN NATIONAL TOURNAMENT: Dakota State is 8-6 record against the teams that qualified for the NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Tournament. The Trojans defeated Jamestown (N.D.) three times, Valley City State (N.D.), Bellevue (Neb.), Dordt (Iowa), Midland (Neb.), Warner Pacific (Ore.) and St. Thomas (Fla.). DSU lost to the Vikings two times, Northwestern (Iowa) two times, Jamestown and Midland. The Trojans are 4-4 this season against teams ranked in the NAIA's Top 25.
TWO IN A ROW CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS: Dakota State captured the Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) Division II Men's Basketball Conference Tournament for the second straight year. The Trojans, third-seed in the tournament, defeated sixth-seed Northern New Mexico, second-seed Valley City State and fifth-seed Jamestown to claim the title. DSU's head coach Gary Garner was named to the A.I.I. Coach of the Year for the second straight year.
WINS RECORD: The Trojans continues their historic season as they set a new DSU school record for the most victories in a single season. DSU recorded their 24th victory on Friday night as they defeated St. Thomas (Fla.) in the second round (Sweet Sixteen) of the NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Tournament. The previous old mark was 20 wins, which happened twice in DSU men's basketball team historyâ€”1990-91 and 1966-67 seasons. In addition, Dakota State had produced their best start this season with a 7-1 record for the first time since 1966-67 season with a 9-1 record.
POSTSEASON HONORS: Four Dakota State University men's basketball players were selected to the A.I.I. All-Conference teams, announced after the conclusion of the conference tournament. John Lamb and Luke Lamb were named to the A.I.I. All-Conference first team. Tyrone Gordon, Jr. and Yusuf Vinson were selected to the second team All-Conference. Luke Lamb, Gordon, Jr. and Vinson were selected to the A.I.I. All-Tournament team after the conclusion of the A.I.I. conference postseason tournament in Jamestown, N.D.
STRONG FINISH: Dakota State finished their regular-season schedule by winning four games of the last six regular-season games before heading in the A.I.I. Conference Tournament. The Trojans currently are on a five-game winning streak and had won 10 of the last 12 games.
DSU GAINS VOTES TO NATIONAL POLL: The Trojans tallied 17 votes in the final NAIA Division II Men's Basketball Coaches' 'Top 25' national poll, released on Feb. 27. Grace is ranked No. 20 in the national poll.
TROJANS' NAIA NATIONAL TOURNAMENT APPEARANCES: Dakota State made their second consecutive trip to the NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Tournament for the first time in DSU school history. The Trojans recorded their third overall trip to the national tournament. The first appearance was in 1992 as they made a 'Cinderella' magical run to the Final Four (lost to Northwestern, Iowa). DSU returned back to the national tournament in 2012, losing to national tournament's No. 5 seed McPherson (Kan.) 69-63 in overtime. The Trojans are 5-2 overall in the national Tournament. DSU is 2-0 in Sweet Sixteen round in program history after the victory vs. St. Thomas.
ABOUT GRACE (IND.): Grace is a member of the Crossroads League and earned an at-large bid to the national tournament. The Lancers made their third straight national tournament appearance, losing to Briar Cliff (Iowa) 59-56 last year. Grace defeated Tennessee Wesleyan in the first round and Cal Martime in the 'Sweet Sixteen'. GC lost in the first round of the conference postseason tournament at home to Marian (Ind.) by the score of 62-54. The Lancers are guided by head coach Jim Kessler which he is in his 36th year of coaching.
DSU QUICK LEADERS: Tyrone Gordon, Jr. averages 12.7 points per game for the Trojans. He shoots 44 percent from the field. John Lamb is averaging 12.4 points per game. He ranks 13th in the nation in total 3-pointers (88) and 14th in 3-point field goal made per game (2.8). He leads the team with 59 steals (1.9 steals per gameâ€”41st in the nation). John Lamb averages 3.0 assists per game (93 total assists). Yusuf Vinson leads the A.I.I. with 242 rebounds this season (averages 7.6 rebounds per gameâ€”50th in the nation). He is 27th in the nation in offensive rebounds per game (2.9).
FREE LIVE AUDIO COVERAGE/LIVE STATS: Voice of the Trojan Jim Hockett will be providing a live audio webcast online for DSU's national tournament games in Point Lookout, Mo. Fans can listen to the game on http://streaming.dsu.edu/Athletics-Live. College of the Ozarks will be providing live stats during the NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Tournament on http://www.dakstats.com/WebSync/Pages/Tournament/TournamentPage.aspx?association=10&sg=MBB&tour=1051. The links will also be available on the DSU Athletics home page website during game day (under 'Live Games' above the 'Upcoming Events.'
LIVE VIDEO: The NAIA will be providing a live paid video coverage of the national tournament in Point Lookout, Mo. Go to http://www.naia.org/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=27900&ATCLID=205423235 for more information.
STAY CONNECTED: Stay connected with Dakota State Trojan men's basketball and athletics all season long on www.dsuathletics.com. The Trojans are also on Twitter, just log onto www.twitter.com/GoDaSUAthletics. The Dakota State University Athletics group page can be found on Facebook on https://www.facebook.com/DSUTrojanAthletics.
Nick Huntimer, Dakota State University Sports Information Director