March 4, 2019 / No. 2 Trailblazers gear up for postseason
VINCENNES, Ind. – The Vincennes University men’s basketball team is
No. 2 in the NJCAA Division I national rankings, is the top seed
heading into the District 16 Tournament and has a 29-1 overall record.
And the Trailblazers are still capable of kicking into another gear
says VU Coach Todd Franklin.
“I think we have another gear we can get to,” he said. “We have got
the job done, but there’s another gear to get to. We probably need to
get to it if we are going to win the national title.
“I think we have it in us. I don’t think we have played our best
basketball for a whole 40 minutes.”
The Trailblazers begin their hunt for a national championship in the
quarterfinal round of the NJCAA District 16 Tournament March 5 at Rend
Lake College in Ina, Illinois. VU plays at 2 p.m. EST against the
winner of a first-round, play-in game between No. 8 seed Shawnee and
No. 9 seed Lewis and Clark on March 4.
The District 16 Tournament runs March 5-8 at Rend Lake. The winner
gets an automatic bid to the NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball
Championship national tournament March 18-23 in Hutchinson, Kansas.
VU reached the Final Four of the 2018 national tourney. The
Trailblazers are shooting for a seventh consecutive national
tournament appearance. Their six straight trips give them the record
for the longest streak of consecutive national tournament appearances
in the modern era of junior college basketball.
The goal is to win the District 16 tournament so they can make it
back to “Hutch”.
“The last couple weeks we haven’t shot the ball as well as we are
capable,” Franklin said. “If things come together, we are hard to
beat. We think we are conditioned well enough to play three games in
four days easy. Usually we play three games in this tournament and
we’ve been in the title game eight of the last 10 times. We have a
pretty good idea of what it takes.
“When it comes postseason play, you’ve got to be focused on every
play. We try to do that in the regular season so now you just want to
bring it all together. I don’t think we have to do anything
differently than what we’ve done. We’ve just got to do what we do
well. When it comes game time, you’ve got to be prepared to play the
next play at full intensity because that’s what is going to be
required. That’s what we preach all year and that’s partially why we
are consistent in our winning anyway.”
The Trailblazers have won every road game they have played this
season. Their sole loss was at home to Olney Central 98-96 in overtime
on Jan. 9.
Franklin says his team is ready and prepared for the postseason.
VU’s leading scorer is sophomore Lony Francis Jr. He is averaging
16.1 points per game. Sophomore Keith Clemons is No. 2 with 15.2 ppg.
VU’s other double-digit scorers are sophomore George Dixon (11.7 ppg)
and freshman Kevin Osawe (10.6 ppg).
Freshman Colton Sandage is averaging 9 ppg. Sophomore Kevin Kangu
follows with 8.5 points. Freshman Craig Porter is right behind Kangu
with 8.4 ppg.
Dixon is the Trailblazers’ top rebounder with 9.3 per game. Francis
averages 6.9 rebounds per game. Other learding rebounders are Porter,
Osawe and sophomore Jordan Lyons. Porter is averaging 6.4 rpg. Osawe
is contributing 6.1 rpg. Lyons is next with 4.5 rpg.
“Any of the guys in the regular rotation have got to show up,”
Franklin said. “You expect your sophomores to show up, especially our
sophomores who have been to the tournament before, who have been to
nationals, and who have been the Final Four. We expect them to step up
and play. If they don’t, someone is going to have to step up and do it.”
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MARCIA MARTINEZ, University Life Reporter & Sports
812-888-4164 office, 314-599-1519 cell,
TRAVIS DAVID, Assistant Sports Information Director
812-888-6831 office, firstname.lastname@example.org
VINCENNES UNIVERSITY, Department of University Relations, www.vinu.edu/newsroom