When Bob Jones University announced the beginning of intercollegiate sports, the door to a new era was opened. With the announcement of the mascot came unity and a newfound school pride that brought students and faculty together to form what would become known as Bruin Nation. The university family could now rally behind a common athletic ideal and support teams that would bear the name of their University. The intercollegiate athletics have come a long way since their debut, further than most skeptics anticipated.
This week, the BJU Bruins basketball teams play in the NCCAA South Regional Tournament. The women’s team (No. 4) competed against Columbia International University (No. 5) at Emmanuel College last night at 6 p.m. The winner will play No. 1 seeded Emmanuel College today. The Bruins improved from a 10-16 record last season to an 18-10 regular season. This will be the Bruins women’s second appearance in the playoffs, having played Emmanuel College in last year’s tournament.
“Having a break from regular season games has been good for us,” junior Kourtney Hoefler said. “We need to be mentally tough going into this game on Thursday, and having the break has refreshed us. We are ready to go.”
The Bruins women faced off against Columbia International University twice during the regular season and defeated them both times. “We can’t let that go to our heads,” Hoefler said. “We cannot mentally expect to win and check out of the game. Their team has gotten a lot better as the season progressed. Our team needs to be prepared for anything. We need to control what we can control and have mental toughness.”
The men’s team shares a similar story of tremendous improvement. The team’s inaugural season ended with a 6-24 record, but better chemistry, more maturity and the simple addition of experience has carried the second-year team to a 16-14 record and a playoff birth.
Before the tournament, senior Evan Brondyke shared his expectations. “We need to control the tempo of the game,” he said. “We are confident as a team that we can do well.
“We trust each other with the ball, and we trust our coaches. We need to strategize in order to make them work hard on defense and limit their rebounds.”
The Bruins men (No. 2) played against Carver College (No. 3) at Southern Wesleyan University last night at 5:30. The victorious team will play against the winner of the No. 1 Southern Wesleyan vs. No. 4 Columbia International matchup on Friday.
Unlike the women’s team, the men have not had the opportunity to play against their opponent in the regular season.