HARROGATE, Tenn. (WATE)- “You’re heartbroken for everyone involved. You recognize [that] it’s just a game but to us who are involved in it; coaches, players we pour our lives into this.”
Railsplitters’ head coach Josh Schertz echoed the disappoint many programs are feeling after winter and spring sports championships were nixed by the NCAA over COVID-19 concerns.
Lincoln Memorial men’s basketball team was entering the postseason hot, riding a national-best 32-game win streak. The bracket set with the team at the number one spot after winning their fifth SAC championship in the last ten years and the school’s 13th SAC title overall.
The record-setting team was gearing up to host the first round of the Southeast Regional Championship when they got the season-ending news during practice.
“I started getting tears.” Senior guard Kamaran Calhoun says, knowing his career was over and any chance of being a part of the team that brought home the school’s first national title. “My freshman year we went to the national championship so this being my last year, I’ve always said since my freshman year, like I got to get one before I leave. It hurts because we were basically forced to not play anymore.”
A team poised for great success, now haunted by a ton of “what-ifs.”
“To have a group that not only has the talent, but all the intangibles necessary to achieve at a high level, you never know how many of these opportunities you’re going to get” says coach Schertz, who has had his share of final four appearances at the helm.
Senior standout Anthony Brown, who ranks among the top 20 in program history in assists and averages in double-digits for the Railsplitters, echos the pain his teammates feel.
“It’s definitely heartbreaking because 32 in a row, you feel like you’re one of those teams that can make it all the way. So, when it ends [like this] you never know your destiny, it’s an aching feeling.”
They all agreed that safety is bigger than basketball, and understand why the NCAA made the decision that it did, but it still is a tough pill to swallow.
“I knew it would come to an end” Calhoun adds, “I didn’t know it would be that soon, like forced. I knew in two months that I would be ready to go, but two months too soon.
Though the season ended the way that it did, it does not negate the accomplishments they made this year, including claiming the best-winning percentage in program history.
“It doesn’t change the fact that they’re champions. They’re regular-season champions, tournament champions, these guys did everything.” Schertz adds, “They’ll always hold a special place in LMU basketball history.”
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