The energy was high. The cheering was loud. The crowd of about 2,000 was standing room only. It was the most people I have ever seen at an event in the Solheim Arena. It was glorious.
Students came in their blue and gold, faces painted, to cheer on the YellowJackets, first-ever Eastern Division champions. Many faculty and staff came out to support the young men also.
The excitement on campus has extended to our community. At a large banquet this week, dozens of friends from the community made an effort to find me and let me know how proud they were of our basketball team. NCAA competition creates an opportunity to channel our pride for all that is good at LETU.
By now, you probably know that LETU was defeated by defending conference champion Hardin Simmons in Saturday's night championship game. It was a matchup of the top-seeded team from the ASC West against the top-seed from the ASC East. Our comeback fell short in the final minutes. LETU finished the season 22-6 with a home record that is the best in the conference and the best in LETU basketball history. They ranked 4th in the NCAA DIII South Region polls, which was the highest ranking in LETU school history.
On Monday, Coach Dan Miller was named the East Division Coach of the Year and several of our players also received ASC honors. Coach Miller deserved the honor as he led the team to our first East Division title, with a team record 20 overall wins, which included the longest winning streak of 12 wins in a row.
Jeff Martin was named All-Conference, First Team All-East Division and was named the first LETU basketball player in history to be named the East Division Player of the Year. He also set an ASC Tournament record and nearly made the tournament's first ever triple-double. The standing ovation was well deserved when he received his all-tournament team award. Alec Colhoff was named First Team All-East Division, Caleb Loggins was named East Division Honorable Mention and made the All-Defense Team, Nate West was named to the East Division All-Freshman Team.
This past 2016-2017 basketball season is a great example and a reminder of the results that can come from personal commitment, hard work, trusting your coach and your teammates working around you to do their best. We should all aspire to keeping those high standards, doing our own parts as we serve together at LeTourneau University.