Coach John Henry Shares Inside Thoughts About The #1 Team In The Nation
Oskaloosa, Iowa – The mood was pure exuberience as the William Penn University Statesmen Men’s Basketball Team pounded #7 Mount Mercy in a show of dominance… if you only watched the second half. Of course, that’s all that was needed. The Statesmen stretched out the score to a 30 point win, landing them squarely in command of their own future.
The thoughts then turned towards winning the MCC Tournament, and then a thought about the NAIA Div II national tournament. The moment caught folks lifting a single finger in the air, indicating the real possibility that William Penn would be voted in as the number one team in the nation on Tuesday. That dream became a reality as, for the first time in school history, the men’s basketball team holds that #1 ranking.
After the nets came down, Penn Head Coach John Henry took time to talk about his team, the MCC Championship and the play-off outlook.
One thing is certain, William Penn’s MCC Conference title. Henry said his first thoughts when that buzzer sounded was, “Champs… again.” He explained that after winning three conference championships back to back beginning in 2006, “We got kind of spoiled. I was younger and my ambition was kind of cocky and I thought we’d do it all the time. I’m now aware of how difficult it is to get a championship and really, really enjoy it.”
Henry says that his thoughts soon after the buzzer turned towards, “I’m really really happy for our guys. They’ve worked so hard and they’re so unselfish, they share the ball, they like each other. I mean, when we bring it in as a team, we say 1-2-3 family. Who does that? It doesn’t feel cliche and stupid, they believe that. We don’t ever have any problems amongst the players, they all get along.”
During Saturday’s game, the first half was a nail biter for the fans. “We were sloppy and amped up.” Coach Henry said.
At the break mid-way through the game, Coach Henry said, “You know, really, I was pretty pleased, because I thought we’d played poorly and carelessly.” Henry broke down some of the instances where the team could improve. He explained that the last basket at the end of the half giving them the two point advantage, “with playing that badly, I was a little bit happy.”
During the time in the locker room, Henry told his players to count out the careless turnovers and to rebound the ball better, “and I think we can blow this open.”
And blow the game wide open the Statesmen did, pulling out to end the game with a 30 point advantage over the #7 team Mount Mercy.
This opened the door for William Penn to take the #1 spot from Eastern Oregon, who had been defeated the night before. Henry was cautiously optimistic about the bump in ranking. “We’ll see. I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes.”
But at 5 pm on Tuesday afternoon, everyone’s suspicions were confirmed. Penn was named the unanimous #1, receiving all 13 first place votes.
For the first time in school history, the Statesmen basketball team has the entire nation in its rearview as the eighth NAIA Division II men’s basketball poll was released Tuesday.
William Penn (26-1, 10-0 MCC) is #1 with 343 points and all 13 first-place votes. The Statesmen, winners of 12 in a row, are the 36th different program to hold the top spot in NAIA Division II. They lead the nation in nine different categories, most notably scoring (97.1), scoring margin (+24.7), and three-pointers per game (11.5).
Penn finishes out the regular season this week with a trip to Viterbo and then Grand View on Saturday. From there, the MCC Tournament.
NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball Rating #8 – February 12, 2013
(Number in parentheses is first-place votes)
1. William Penn (13)
2. Cardinal Stritch (Wis.)
3. Eastern Oregon
4. Northwood (Fla.)
6. Indiana Wesleyan
7. Saint Xavier (Ill.)
8. Davenport (Mich.)
9. Rochester (Mich.)
10. Mount Mercy
12. Warner Pacific (Ore.)
14. Ave Maria (Fla.)
15. York (Neb.)
16. Embry-Riddle (Fla.)
17. Madonna (Mich.)
18. Bethel (Ind.)
19. Tennessee Wesleyan
20. Valley City State (N.D.)
21. Southern Oregon
22. St. Thomas (Fla.)
23. Bellevue (Neb.)
24. Doane (Neb.)
25. Taylor (Ind.)
Others receiving votes: Lourdes (Ohio) 67; Grace (Ind.) 64; Northwest (Wash.) 24; Indiana-East 23 St. Mary (Kan.) 20; Oklahoma Wesleyan 10; Cal Maritime 8; Spring Arbor (Mich.) 7; Indiana Tech 6; Hastings (Neb.) 5.