Well if you have been paying attention to the men’s basketball team here at NCU, it has been quite a wild ride. The team qualified for the NAIA National Championship Tournament for the first time in school history after beating Northwest University. While unfortunately they lost in the first round to Cornerstone University, this is still a monumental event for the program, which finished the year with an 18-14 record. I recently had the chance to sit down with head coach Luke Jackson to talk about the record-setting season for the team.
What do you think is the main thing that contributed to your success?
The players mostly, their support of what we were trying to do from day one. They really bought in heart and soul to what we were trying to do. All the success belongs to them.
What does this season mean to you personally?
For me, seeing our players achieve their goals is a very sweet thing. I did not think I would be able to have that same competitive feeling before a game as a couch instead of a player, but it is the same emotion. A real team player wants what is best for the team, and I think it is magnified as a coach. I couldn’t be prouder of these guys and what they have accomplished
What do you think this season means for the program as a whole?
Well, now everyone wants to come and play here. Recruits are calling me instead of me calling them. I think that we have set the bar high and need to continue to build on that. I hope we can always represent the school to the best of our ability
What does this accomplishment (getting into the championship) mean to your players?
Well, it is history. We have never done it before. Good teams in our league go for years without having their players be able to experience this. I’m so pleased that our team got to experience something like that. It was well deserved.
How did you guys celebrate when you knew you were going into the championship?
The first thing we did was congratulate Remi White. He was an unsung hero there at the end of the game. One of the guys who never complained about minutes, never whined about anything, he was the ultimate team player. When we put him in at the biggest game of the year, he hit a bunch of shots and got a bunch of steals. Just the definition of a team guy, I was just so proud of him. It was just a really cool moment because it was either win or go home. I have seen the growth in all of these guys’ lives off the court. And for me that is more important than winning games. I will never apologize for trying to win, but for me from where we started out to where we are now, as men and a basketball team, I’m more proud of the fact that there has been a spark ignited in some guys’ lives for the Lord and some guys now have a flame. They understand what we are about and who we are trying to be as men to represent NCU.