Wiley College opens play in NAIA tourney today
March 15, 2017 at 4 a.m.
The No. 25 Wiley College men's basketball team is hoping to achieve something it hasn't done in 47 years - win an NAIA Tournament game.
The Wildcats look to do that when they take on No. 5 Hope International University in the first round of the 2017 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at 1:15 p.m. today at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri.
The Royals (25-7) are the regular season Golden State Athletic Conference champions and tournament runner-ups. Head coach Jameus Hartsfield said they are a good methodical team.
"They take the time to run their offense," Hartsfield said. "They like to control the tempo and make it slow pace. We are going to try to use our athleticism and skill in the open floor to generate offense and wear their defenders down."
Wiley College has had success against the NAIA's best this season. Six of their 23 victories were against teams that were ranked or receiving votes. Four of those teams are competing in the Division I Men's Basketball NAIA Championships.
Seniors Ricardo Artis, Xavier Graves, Cory Jones and George Page hope they make a run before hanging up their Wildcat jerseys for good.
"I've enjoyed my time playing in a Wildcat uniform but I'm not quite ready for it to end," Jones said. "This will be a great experience and I believe we can make something special out of it."
The Wildcats' last NAIA Tournament win was in 1970, when it defeated No. 12 Drury out of Missouri 77-75. Head coach Jameus Hartsfield is looking for his first career NAIA Tournament victory in his second appearance. Cory Jones, George Page, Andre Jackson, Demetrius Wiggins and Kevondric Davis played on that team.
"Everyone says 'one game at a time' during the season, Hartsfield said. "It's really that way in the tournament. This is the most important game for us. We win we move on. We are definitely putting emphasis on this game and we are going to give it all we got."