RICHLAND COLLEGE BASKETBALL TEAM HEADED TO NJCAA DIII NATIONAL TOURNAMENT

One of the main goals for Jon Felment when he was hired as the Richland College basketball coach was to bring a buzz back to the campus about the T-Duck basketball program. After just two seasons, Felmet’s mission has been accomplished.

His T-Ducks have been the talk of the campus, lately, as they prepare to leave for New York, where they will be one of eight teams playing for the NJCAA Division III National Championship Tournament beginning March 12.

“It definitely has taken a while to set in. This last week has been stressful due to travel arrangements and things but as we get closer to [our] departure it’s getting more exciting,” Felmet said. “[When] I think about our conference championship and a chance to play for the national championship in just my second year as a head coach, those are all things some coaches may never get a chance to be a part of. I’m extremely excited for the guys. They too, are in their second year and are already champions.”

The T-Ducks beat Eastfield College, 92-72, in the Metro Athletic Conference Tournament Championship game on Feb. 27 to advance to the NJCAA Division III National Championship Tournament.

Richland College will open the tournament on Thursday, March 12 against Mass Bay Community College, which is ranked No. 7 in the nation.

“They play a fast-paced style, hard-nosed man-to-man defense and they shoot a lot of 3-pointers,” Felmet said. “They are well coached and play with passion. It will be a tough game, if we do not come ready to play.”

According to Felmet, Mass Bay Community College also has a 6-5 all-American and 1,000-point scorer, who will be tough to guard because he can shoot the 3 and post up.

Countering his play will be T-Duck pre-season all-Americans Tony Bishop and Antwan Mullins. Bishop averages 14.3 points point per game while Mullins scores 13.3.

The T-Ducks, who will enter the tournament winners of their last five and 11 of 12, have four other players averaging at least six points per game.

“There are eight teams in the tournament but only one will win all three games and be crowned 2009 Division III National Champions,” Felmet said. “We can’t be that team if we do not take care of Game 1. To do that, we will have to play our style. If we pick up where we left off to finish conference, we should be in a very good spot to bring it [the championship] home.”