Jeff Vorva’s Extra Point — St. Xavier faces the nation

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Photo courtesy of St. Xavier University 

The SXU bench reacts after the Cougars shocked No. 1 St. Francis on Feb. 28 in Joliet.

 

“Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I want to take ya…’’

Thanks a lot WXAV. Thanks a lot.

While I was driving in between assignments on March 1, the St. Xavier University radio station announcers were breaking the news that the Cougars’ national power women’s basketball team was set to open play in the national tournament against Indiana University—Kokomo.

So the DJs went on to spin the Beach Boys’ “Kokomo” and that song has been spinning in my head ever since. I also found out Kokomo’s record is 21-12, which make me think of an old and long Rush song. So those two songs are alternating in my cranium and Rush lead singer’s Geddy Lee’s screech is giving me a headache.

But I digress…

The Cougars (30-2) are ready to give some teams some headaches as well in the next couple of days as they aim for an NAIA Division II National Championship at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa. The 32-team, single elimination tournament was scheduled to start Wednesday night but the Cougars and Kokomo battle it out in the first round at 5:15 p.m. today, Thursday. The Cougars earned one of the four No. 1 seeds in the tournament.

 

For those who can’t make the more-than 7-hour trip, WXAV (FM 89.3) will call the action of all the games in Sioux City. I can’t promise they won’t play “Kokomo” or “2112” or even “Sioux City Sue” during the broadcast but with college radio, you never know…

And with the national championship on the line, you never know what will happen either.

But if there is one team in the country that has been playing great basketball heading onto the national stage, it’s SXU.

The Cougars scored triple figures against Trinity Christian College and Purdue Northwest in the first two rounds of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament before drilling the previous top-ranked team in the nation, the University of St. Francis, 88-64, Feb. 28 in Joliet in the tournament championship. The Saints were 31-0 and had beaten SXU, 80-70 on Jan. 7 at the Shannon Center in Chicago, so this was a huge swing.

The Cougars scored 50 points against the Saints in the second half and shot 61 percent in the final 20 minutes. Junior Kara Krolicki scored 22 points and junior Brittany Collins added 20 points and 12 rebounds.

It was a great week all around for the program.

Krolicki was named the CCAC Player of the Year. Krolicki was also named to the five-player all-conference team along with senior Mikayla Leyden. Collins made the second team. Maddie Welter was named the Freshman of the Year.

I’m excited about the Cougars’ chances about winning the national championship, but you never know. There might be a team in the 32-team field that may not have a spectacular record or seed but played a killer schedule. There might be a team out there that had some players hurt during the season and picked up some losses but is at full strength now. There might a team out there that just plain and simple gets red hot at the right time and plays above its head for five games.

And, oh, gosh, there just might be a team like Goshen who got hot in the second round against the No. 2-ranked Cougars last year and won 84-66 even though SXU beat that team, 82-69, at the SXU Christmas Classic the previous December. 

Maybe St. Francis and SXU will meet a third time…

So who knows how this is all going to play out? That’s the fun of sports.

 

Let’s just enjoy the games and hope for the best.

And let’s hope I can get that Beach Boys song out of my head and replace it with…perhaps a Queen song that has something to do with champions.

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