There are certain things that come to mind once March rolls around: Making a trip down south for spring break, planning out the “activities” for St. Patty’s Day and getting excited for a 40 degree day.
But while St. Patty’s Day may get the attention as the official holiday of the month, there is one holiday that may not be on the calendar, but is responsible for single-handedly killing workplace productivity and causing heartache and jubilation.
That event is the NCAA Tournament, which most people simply know as “March Madness.” With individuals endlessly scrutinizing over which teams to pick in the office bracket pool and dreams being fulfilled or broken, college basketball takes center stage during the month as even those who don’t know who Coach K is know which #10 seed took down a conference powerhouse.
So while the Division I tournament draws the attention and the hoopla, it’s easy to forget that at the same time the Division II tournament is in full swing, and to let you in on a little secret, Ferris just happens to be in the Sweet Sixteen at the moment. Just in case you didn’t know.
Despite losing the GLIAC Championship to Wayne State, the Bulldogs have turned it on in March to battle their way to their first Sweet Sixteen since 2004-05. With a revenge win against Wayne State in the opening round and a victory over Drury (Mo.) in the second round, Ferris has a golden opportunity to continue a storybook season for a senior-led team.
With Justin Keenan, Darien Gay, Lou Williams and Matt Dehart leaving the program after this season, this group of seniors had grand aspirations at the start of the season.
The goal at the start was to win the GLIAC, plain and simple. That mantra was repeated all season as the Bulldogs plowed through the GLIAC schedule and lost only one game at home the enter season.
As the Bulldogs were in contention for a spot in the NCAA Tournament at the end of the regular season, I asked head coach Bill Sall and Keenan if they had began to think about a possible berth in the tournament following a win against Saginaw Valley to close out the year.
The answer was the same from both men. “We’re focused on the next game and that’s it.”
While that doesn’t make for thrilling quotes when you’re trying to write an article, it’s that attitude that has put the Bulldogs in the position that they are in right now.
There was a point early in the season when Ferris was 3-2 and people were beginning to doubt the hype that was placed on the team in the pre-season with the national player of the year and a senior-laden roster returning for the year.
But the Bulldogs remained focused on taking it one game at a time, and only focusing on the next opponent.
So as Ferris reeled off 12-straight wins toward the end of the season, the approach paid off and the Bulldogs put themselves in position to win the GLIAC.
While the Bulldogs fell short in the GLIAC title game, the approach has continued into the NCAA Tournament.
So while champions often get crowned by the media and the public in the offseason, it’s important to remember that each game means everything. The Bulldogs knew that, and now they have a chance to do something special because of that mindset. n