Eagles earn national tournament bid
Monday, March 16, 2009
Posted by: Katy Watson
NAIA Tournament Page
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (March 11, 2009) – Oklahoma Christian University received an at-large bid to the Buffalo Funds NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship today.
The national tournament appearance is Oklahoma Christian's first since 2005-06, and the program's ninth all time. Head coach Dan Hays has now led the Eagles to seven NAIA tournaments in his 26 years on the OC sideline, where his record is 549-297 (.649 winning percentage).
“What's gratifying is the way our kids won our last six regular-season games after losing four straight and being counted out by everyone. This group has plugged away and showed tremendous character throughout the season. We're not satisfied though, we want to prepare to go up there and win some games,” Hays said.
The official tournament bracket will be released by noon (CST) on Thursday, March 12. The 32-team field is comprised of 18 automatic qualifiers, one host school and 13 schools who received at-large bids, which were determined using Tuesday's final national rating. OC was ranked No. 22 in the final poll.
The Eagles' tournament resume includes wins over No. 2 Oklahoma Baptist (53-48) and No. 10 Texas Wesleyan (76-63). On the strength of a six-game winning streak early in Sooner Athletic Conference play and another seven-game streak late in the season, OC posted its first 20-win season since 2005-06.
The Eagles (23-9 overall) placed third in the SAC with a 15-7 mark in league play and advanced to the semifinals of the conference tournament.
The Sooner Athletic Conference, regarded as one of the nation's toughest leagues, will send an NAIA-high five teams to the national tournament. Rogers State (Okla.), Oklahoma Baptist, Northwestern Oklahoma State and Science and Arts (Okla.) join OC in the single-elimination tourney.
OC boasts a legitimate candidate for NAIA National Player of the Year in center Jason Taylor. Taylor, a junior from Edmond, Okla., was the SAC Player of the Year after leading the league in scoring (23.5 points per game) and rebounding (8.3 per game).