No D-III At-Large Bid for EMU Men

By: Damon Dillman Email
By: Damon Dillman Email

There will be no return trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the Eastern Mennonite men's basketball team.

The Royals were not among the at-large teams selected for this year's 61-team tournament. Brackets were announced Monday afternoon.

"That's the nature of the beast, and we have to accept it and move on," head coach Kirby Dean said Monday afternoon, following the announcement of the field.

EMU returned five senior starters, Eli Crawford, DJ Hinson, George Johnson, Orie Pancione and 10-11 ODAC player of the year Todd Phillips, from last year's NCAA quarterfinal team.

"I'm just crushed for them, because they're great kids. And they should be there," said Dean.

"Anybody who knows anything about the landscape of Division III basketball would tell you that we're probably one of the top ten, 12 teams in the country," he added. "We just happen to reside in a league that has two other top ten or 12 (teams.) We lost five games, but three of them were to possibly the best team in the country."

The Royals entered the 2010-11 season ranked No. 3 in the country in the D3Hoops.com preseason poll, and the preseason pick to win the ODAC title.

EMU finished the season 22-5, after losing 90-79 to eventual ODAC champion Randolph-Macon in Saturday's league semifinals. It was the Royals' third loss to the Yellow Jackets this season.

Randolph-Macon and at-large selection Virginia Wesleyan, the league's regular season champ, were the only ODAC teams selected by the NCAA.

"That's why I coach, and kids play sports. It teaches you life lessons. And a lot of times in life, you don't get the things you want," said Dean. "Over the course of your life, you're going to deal with that a lot. And this experience, as painful as it is, will somehow make these kids better and stronger."


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