Can we tip off yet?

May 7, 2020


Men’s basketball fans had been waiting for a season like this one. With a 24-7 record, the team entered the A-10 tournament as the No. 2 seed, and they had a fighting chance to make their first NCAA tournament appearance since their 2011 Sweet Sixteen run. Most major bracketologists predicted they were one side or the other of the cusp of the field. We’ll never know how things would have turned out in this, the ultimate wait’ll-next-year sports moment.

But we do know there were some spectacular high points that explain this year’s success, many of them tied to the junior class who made up the core of this year’s roster. Jacob Gilyard led all of Division I in steals this season, with 99. The next-closest guy wasn’t even all that close at 89. Gilyard broke the Spider record for career steals in mid-January and has another season to add to the total. Nick Sherod also ended the season in the nation’s top 10 with his 43.8% three-point shooting.

As a team, the Spiders were very careful with the ball, posting the nation’s ninth-best assist-to-turnover ratio and ranking 21st for fewest turnovers. They also took advantage of what their opponents gave, ranking No. 11 in free-throw percentage.

National media have expectations the Spiders will bring joy to the Robins Center next season. They earned top-25 votes in the final AP poll, and ESPN and NBC put them in the top 25 in their first 2020-21 rankings.