Owls Host ECAC Game Wednesday
KEENE, N.H. 2/28/11 - Don't put away the basketballs, get a fresh supply of hotdogs for the concession stand and give Owl public address announcer Walt Kilburn a call. The season will continue for the Keene State men's basketball team who on Monday accepted an invitation to play in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III New England tournament.
Keene State (17-10) will be the third seed in tournament and host sixth seed Brandeis University (16-9) in a quarterfinal game at Spaulding Gym on Wednesday. Tip-off will be at 7 p.m.
Little East rival Eastern Conn. (19-9) has drawn the top seed in the tournament and will face eighth seed Regis College (15-11). Other first round contests have second seed Anna Maria College (18-9) hosting seventh seed Mass. College of Liberal Arts (16-9) and fourth seed Albertus Magnus (17-10) playing host to fifth seed Wentworth Institute (18-10). The semifinals and championship games will be played at the highest remaining seed on Friday and Saturday respectively.
The Owls will be making their first appearance in the ECAC tournament since the 2005-06 season. Reluctant to play in the regional tournament in the past, KSC Coach Rob Colbert felt it was the right fit for his team this time around. "Although this isn't where we wanted to be, this might be where we need to be to make that next step," he said. "The LEC tournament win over UMass-Dartmouth was the first post-season win for this group of players. Maybe we need more seasoning."
Following the win over the Corsairs, the Owls gave top seed and eventual conference champ Rhode Island College all it could handle in the semifinals, before falling 102-92 in a double-overtime thriller.
How does Colbert plan to rally his team for the tournament? "You tell them it's time to go again. It's that simple," he said. "There's no magic wand. "You tell them about all the teams that are sitting home and you tell them they are playing a very talented team."
Keene State has a very difficult draw in the first-round. Brandeis, who finished fifth in the University Athletic Association (UAA), got off to a strong start before struggling down the stretch. "They were ranked earlier in the season, so I'm surprised we got a higher seed and a home game," said Colbert. "But I'm not giving it back."
Although it been a few years between berths, Keene State is no stranger to the ECAC tournament. The Owls will be making their eighth trip to the tournament since moving to Division III in 1997-98. KSC has reached the finals on two occasions: losing to Colby-Sawyer (102-95) in 1998 and falling to Babson College (81-71) in 2003. In their last appearance in 2006, the Owls won a first round game against Colby Sawyer before losing a second-round game to Rhode Island College. Brandeis is making its first ECAC tournament trip since 1995.