KANSAS CITY, MO. (March 12, 2012)– The Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) men's basketball team will make its first appearance at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division I Men's Basketball Championship Tournament. The No. 7-seed Saints are set to face host-seed Baker University, also making its national tournament debut, on Wednesday at 6:15 p.m. (CDT) at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo.
The Buffalo-Funds NAIA Division I tournament consists of 32 teams, including 17 conference / independent qualifiers, one host berth, and 14 at-large berths.
For tournament information, including schedules, tickets, fan information and much more, Saints fans can go here. The first 30 games of the tournament will be video-streamed live on the NAIA web site. The championship game will air at 5 p.m. on March 20 CBS Sports Network.
Live stats for the men's came can be accessed here.
The University will provide live streaming of the tournament beginning at 9:15 a.m. (CDT) on Wednesday, March 14, in Providence Hall Blue Room. The OLLU community is invited free of charge to join other Saints fans and cheer for the women, who will play at 10:15 a.m. (EDT), and continue on through the end of the men's game. As both teams advance to the second round, live streaming will be provided as well.
Baker University finished its season with a 21-11 overall record and a 12-6 in the Heart of America Athletic Conference. They finished third in the conference and fell to MidAmerica Nazarene University in the championship tournament.
In their inaugural 2009-2010 season, the Saints finished at 19-11 overall and 16-4 in the Red River Athletic Conference. As the co-champions of the regular season and the second seed, the Saints were quarterfinalists in the conference tournament. Last year, the Saints finished 21-10 overall and 16-6 in the conference. They were the third seed in the tournament, where they ended their season as semifinalists. This year, the Saints finished with a best-ever 21-3 in the conference and 26-7 overall. As the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, the Saints beat eighth-seed Jarvis Christian College and fourth-seed Southwestern Assemblies of God University. OLLU lost in the finals to second-seed LSU-Shreveport.
Saints fans are excited about the team's success this year. Student Hugo Cantera and other
|The 'Saints Fanatics' can be seen cheering for guard Marcus Thompson and the rest of the Saints during the conference tournament.|
"Saints Fanatics" attended the conference tournament finals in Waxahachie, Texas. He said, "We all decided to go to cheer and support our basketball team. We're proud student fans of our OLLU Saints. We screamed as loud as we could to let the whole gym know OLLU spirit was there."
The Saints made their debut in the 2011-2012 NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Coaches' Top 25 Poll on Dec. 5 at the 24th spot. The Saints jumped one spot to No. 23 on Dec. 12, and on Jan. 9, the Saints were ranked 17th. On Jan. 16, the Saints came in at 10th, and a week later, they leaped to seventh. On Jan. 30, the team was ranked fifth, and from Feb. 13 through March 7, the Saints stayed at No. 7.
In the NAIA Division I, the Saints are first in scoring offense/game (100.273), total scoring offense (3,309), 3-pt. fgm./game (12.455), total 3-pt. fgm. (411), total assists (677), assists/game (20.515), turnover margin (8.727) and total steals (464); second in steals/game (14.061); fifth in offensive rebounds/game (15.727) and scoring margin (14.636); and sixth in total rebound offense (1,358).
Junior guard Robert Martinez, now in his third year with the Saints, ranks third in the NAIA in 3-pt. fgm./game (3.379) and fourth in total 3-pt. fgm. (98). Martinez became the first member of the Saints men's basketball team's 1,000 Point Club earlier this season. He is the team's second leading scorer averaging 14.24. Martinez was named to the All-Conference Second Team.
Senior forward Marco Cooper is fifth in the NAIA in field goal pct. (0.628). He is the Saints' leading scorer with an average of 15.78. He has had six double-doubles this season, and he was named to the All-Conference First Team.
The Saints team celebrates after
Junior guard Josh Orta is fifth in the NAIA in total assists (197) and ninth in assists/game (5.970) and total steals (90). Earlier this year, Orta was selected as the NAIA Player of the Week when he finished with a rare triple-double of 18 points, 10 assists and 11 steals. All together this season, Orta has had four double-doubles. He was named to the All-Conference Second Team.
Senior guard Ricardo Zanini has had four double-doubles this season. He is the third leading scorer on the team and was the team's second member of the 1,000 Point Club. Zanini was named to the All-Conference Honorable Mention Team.
Coach Russell Vanlandingham, in his third year as head coach, was selected Conference Coach of the Year.
|Anne Gomez watched the Saints' games on her home computer and faithfully displayed a statue of Mary and vigil candles,|
SUPPORT FROM UNIVERSITY STAFF
Anne Gomez, director of the Office of Marketing and Communications at OLLU, has been one of the Saints' most enthusiastic fans. For away games, Gomez watches online and ensures her holy statue of Mary and vigil candles are
nearby as she prays for the Saints' wins. "The basketball team has accomplished a great deal in just three years and the University community is extremely proud of them. The Saints are always exciting to watch because of the incredibly fast pace they maintain. I can't wait to watch them progress through the national tournament. "
The NAIA Champions of Character program aims to instill five core values in NAIA athletes, coaches: respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership, and sportsmanship. Our Lady of the Lake University shares and supports these values and strives to promote the Champions of Character program by working with students, coaches through our Champions of Character educational program. For more information on the Champions of Character program, click here: www.championsofcharacter.org.
Luis A. Lárraga
Sports Information Assistant