Pilots set for GCAC tournament;
March 02, 2006March 2, 2006
Southern-NO at LSUS
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By winning the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference regular season, the LSUS Pilots are bound for Kansas City and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics national tournament.
But the national tournament doesn't begin until March 15. Head coach Chad McDowell has a more pressing issue -- the GCAC Tournament which begins today.
The Pilots (25-3, 12-2) welcome Southern-New Orleans for their first-round game at 7 tonight.
"It's a good problem to have when the challenge is keeping the players and coaches focused and composed on what needs to be done instead of the flip side and getting them ready to play," McDowell said.
With the tournament comes an escalated scale of pressure. The Pilots are expected to add another championship after coasting through the regular season and reaching the No. 1 spot in the NAIA's poll.
"It would be a disappointment not to win the conference tournament with all three games here at LSUS," McDowell said.
"We're playing very good basketball and it's gotten better game to game and that's why we're excited about the tournament. We're playing our best basketball in all areas of the game right now."
Inexplicably, despite winning their final two games of the season, the Pilots fell from No. 1 to No. 2 in the NAIA's final poll.
Mountain State (W. Va.) University slipped past the Pilots into the No. 1 spot, yet the Pilots garnered seven first-place votes to the Cougars' four.
"It's disappointing, but you can't let that overshadow the accomplishments of the program of the last three seasons," McDowell said. "The guys would like to have finished the regular season ranked No. 1."
The Pilots enter the tournament the hottest team in the conference, winners of their last eight games.
They beat Southern-New Orleans twice during the season -- 112-80 at LSUS on Jan. 14 and 112-86 in Baton Rouge on Feb. 9.
March 2, 2006