SEMO men’s basketball prepares for NCAA Tournament

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KBSI) – Four wins in four days: That’s what it took for the SEMO men’s basketball team to reach the NCAA Tournament, and the Redhawks will be dancing for the first time since 2000.

Saturday’s dramatic overtime victory over Tennessee Tech in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament championship was a momentous win for a program that had only previously reached the NCAA Tournament once. 

Redhawks head coach Brad Korn said a never-say-die attitude has been the hallmark of this team. 

“Our toughness, our grit, and our perseverance never really changed, and that’s each individual guy. That’s nothing that I was able to do. That’s them in the locker room, what the players were able to do,” he said.

Korn has been to the NCAA Tournament 10 times as a player and coach, and sophomore guard Phillip Russell said Korn will have to be a calming presence when they do get to the tournament. 

“He’s just going to have to keep us calm since he’s been here before because I know I’m going to be excited and through the roof, so that’s really, he’s going to have to keep us cool-headed,” Russell said.

Senior Chris Harris said Korn’s reference to March Madness as “basketball Christmas” is right on the money. 

“If you keep winning you get more gifts, so I think basketball Christmas is pretty appropriate,” he said.

The Redhawks are projected as a 16-seed, which means they will likely have to play one of the top 4 teams in the country in their first-round game. 

But senior Nate Johnson said whoever they play really isn’t that much different than them. 

“At the end of the day, he puts on his shoes one leg at a time just like I do, so no matter what happens, you’ve got to go out there, have fun, and perform,” he said.

And most of all, they want to embrace the moment of seeing their dreams come true at the “Big Dance.” 

“This is something I dreamed about, so for me to fulfill this at a young age, as a sophomore, it’s a blessing,” Russell said.

“It’s something that I’ve always dreamed of, and I’ve always wanted to do, so to be able to come out here, actually be fighting for that and to be able to break through and actually get there, it’s awesome,” Harris said.

The Redhawks will host a watch party for Sunday’s Selection Show. It will begin at 4 pm at the Show-Me Center.

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