Lions bound for national stage in KC

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WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The men’s basketball team at Southwestern Assemblies of God University have been big news for the past two seasons. As G.F. Northall, the writer of folk phrases, would say, the 2013 Lions are “large as life and twice as natural.”

Having been ranked in the Top 25 Coaches Poll since the start of the season, their splash has reached across the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) all season.

SAGU, ranked no. 6 in the country, will take their game to the national stage in next week’s Division I National Basketball Championship in Kansas City, Missouri.

There will be 32 teams all vying for the same prize, to be crowned as champion.

SAGU’s second year Head Coach Donnie Bostwick sat down for a few moments to share his thoughts about this Lions team and the March 13-19 challenge in KC.

Congratulations on making the NAIA national championship field. Was this part of the team goal?

Donnie Bostwick: Our goal is always to seek God, trusting that if we give him our best and live righteous, then He will give us the desires of our heart.

Our God loves to do what most believe is impossible. He has already given us more than we deserve, but why not believe He might just give us the strength, courage, and ability to win a Championship for His Glory.

We will praise Him no matter the result.

The tournament requires a team to win five games in six days, which is said to be college basketball's most difficult tourney. What is it like to have the entire field in one location for a week?

DB: There is nothing like the NAIA Tournament! Thirty-two teams in a winner take all setting is something special. Winning it all definitely takes more than just talent.

Winning five difficult games in that short of time is a grueling test of courage and desire. Our 9:00am game on Wednesday (March 13) provides another challenge.

It also gives us a possible blessing because the winner of the game gets additional rest compared to Thursday's winners (who must turn around and play on Friday, while Wednesday winners get a day off).

What are the challenges a team faces in advancing in such a format?

DB: We look at adversity as a good thing. The Bible says to consider it pure joy (when you are put to the test), so any and all challenges (James 1:2-4) are just part of life. We can do all things through Christ that strengthens us.

We will just take one game at a time and enjoy the journey.

Note: Should the Lions win on Wednesday, they advance to play on Friday, March 15, also at 9:00am.

How do you describe this year's team in terms of its style and strengths?

DB: Our team is one that has great faith, chemistry and drive. We have overcome adversity on and off the floor.

Our record in close games and our success on the road (13-1) speaks to our courage and the strength and peace God provides in the storm.

We may not have the best offensive numbers, but our effort and team-play has made us one if the best defensive and rebounding teams in the country.

You have to focus on who you are, what got you there and on doing the little things. The results will take care of themselves.

We believe God will give us the strength and courage to finish strong. The results are in His hands. We will praise Him and trust Him with our finish.

What about tipping off the tourney as its first game at 9:00am?

DB: At first most people see playing early as a challenge, which it is, but the possibility of additional rest could be a blessing in disguise.

We may have to win a game or two to give our fans a chance to come to KC, but we have been playing for an audience of One all year. I don't see that (an early start) as something that will effect this group of young men.

The University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma is the first team you scheduled a year ago. What can you tell fans about this team and its coach?

DB: Coach (Brisco) McPherson has played for multiple National Championships and has won one. He has taken many teams to KC. His teams are always athletic and aggressive. I expect a war and a well prepared opponent.

With such a growing fan base, what can fans do to support the team?

DB: I know that Spring Break plans will cause many to pray that we can make it to the Final Four on Monday so they might be able to come to watch in person.

We just appreciate all of the support and love that our fans have given us this year. We hope we have represented the SAGU faithful in a way that makes them proud to be a Lion.

Note: The team will depart from the Sheaffer Center on Monday, March 11, at 8:00am. Fans are welcome to join in a special Send-Off Ceremony and prayer led by Athletic Department leaders. It is 583 miles from Waxahachie to KC, an eight-hour drive.

How are the Lions, healthwise?

DB: At this point in the season, we have a few bumps and bruises, but we are very thankful to God for His protection.

In the first game the team will wear their purple road uniform. Is there any significance?

DB: The new uniforms are a blessing. The guys really like them. No significance, really, but the purple threads are nice.

SAGU is joined by St. Thomas and LSU-Shreveport in the field. How do you feel about your RRAC comrades making the frontlines?

DB: I could not be more excited about both Coach (Todd) Smith and Coach (Kyle) Blankenship and their teams joining us in KC. Both of these men are men of integrity and I wish them the best.

Contact: Mark “Link” Warde, SAGU Sports Information Director, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 469-658-2847.

 

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