At the Final Four with Jake Norcia

After defeating Babson (29-2) on Friday night in the semifinals, we got the opportunity of a lifetime on Saturday: to play on national television (CBS Sports Network) for the Division III National Championship.
We faced a veteran U.W. Stevens Point team with an outstanding lineup of four seniors and a junior. They were on fire from behind the arc in the game, shooting a sizzling 66 percent (12-18) from 3. We played with great effort and passion in the second half to cut the lead to nine, after  being down by 21 at one point in the second half. However, their experience and hot-shooting ended our season at 27-5, one win shy of a National Championship.
The locker room was emotional after the game as we were saying our goodbyes to five spectacular seniors: Alex Dziagwa, Nic Hoepfner, Dan Jurgutis, Mark Roth, and Kevin Schlitter. A group that will be remembered as leaders of one of the most successful and  memorable season’s in Augustana basketball history.
At the beginning of the year, our players and coaches met to discuss our aspirations for the season. We made a list of the “destinations” we wanted to achieve. First, win at Bradley. Second, win three out of state tournaments (Ohio, Kentucky, and Wisconsin). Third, win the regular season CCIW title, meaning we would host the conference tournament. Fourth, win our conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament by winning the CCIW conference tourney. Lastly, we wanted to advance deep into the NCAA tournament, playing meaningful basketball in March.
Every single one of those destinations that we had set at the beginning of the season, we had accomplished by the season’s end. Not only did we accomplish our desired destinations, we also galvanized the Augustana campus and the Quad Cities community along the way. For the last month, we have seen game after game packed with standing-room-only crowds at the Carver Center and an excellent following on our Final Four journey to Salem. One of the keys to our team’s success this season was the massive support that we received each game, which gave us the energy we needed to play at the highest level late in the season.
Coach G was extremely proud of this team’s accomplishments, but he asked us, “Now what?” We have a number of key players returning and all five starters. The potential for another deep NCAA tourney run is as high as ever. But we know it won’t be given to us. We understand the amount of work that must be put in during the off-season to get back to where we want to be. It’s going to be a lot of fun and we can’t wait to get back after it!
Media Day
Here’s a link to a video of the National Championship game in Salem:
This is a written account by Augustana junior guard and multimedia journalism major Jake Norcia as he takes us with Augustana basketball on their journey to Salem, Va., the site of the Division III Men’s Final Four.