The Ottawa University men’s basketball’s storybook season will continue in South Dakota.
The No. 6 Braves will compete for a national championship in the NAIA Men’s Division II National Tournament, March 11-17, in Sioux City, S.D. It is Ottawa’s first national tournament berth since 2008-09.
Ottawa (27-5) played Monday in the KCAC Tournament championship game against Oklahoma Wesleyan.
This has been a season for the record books for the men’s team. The Braves set program bests for single-season victories, highest national ranking and most KCAC victories in a single-season (19).
“It has been a great ride so far and we are not ready for it to be quite over,” Ottawa coach Aaron Siebenthall said. “We are going to keep writing chapters.”
A big part of Braves’ successful run this season has been their depth. Ottawa plays at least nine deep. Sienbenthall reiterared several times this season, this team does not care who starts.
“We are bringing the conference player of the year off the bench,” Siebenthall said of senior guard Darryl Bowie, who averages a team-best 18 points per game. “We have been nine deep all year. It comes down to who is playing well.”
There have been nine players lead Ottawa in scoring in games this season. Siebenthall said that is unheard of on most teams and speaks of the players’ unselfishness.
Senior Kyle Patrick, Joe Johnson III and Andre Jackson are the others coming off the bench.
“Joe Johnson, he’s big shot Joe,” Siebenthall said. “He makes shots. Kyle Patrick battles in there. He is going against bigger, stronger and more athletic guys. He plays his tail off. You have those four coming off the bench, that is pretty nice.”
Siebenthall said Monday’s championship game meant a lot to Ottawa, even though the Braves have a national tourney berth in hand.
“We are playing for a seeding at the national tournament,” he said. “We want to keep getting after it and keep showing people we are one of the best teams in the country.”
Siebenthall said the KCAC title game in Park City’s Hartman Arena will help prepare Ottawa for the national tournament.
“It is like a dress rehearsal for the national tournament,” he said. “It is a bigger arena. It is a different schedule, a place we have not played before. It will be good for us and we will play a good Oklahoma Wesleyan team.”