By: Evan Thorpe
On March 18th, 2016, the CNU Men’s basketball team achieved something for the first time in program history; a chance to play in the NCAA Final 4. The game was against St. Thomas (Minn) at Salem Civic Center, where Captains’ fans filled the arena. From pregame to the jump ball, the atmosphere was one of a CNU home game. But, as the game started, the Captains didn’t show up until late in the first half.
After being down 7-0 in the first, the captains fought back to tie the game at 19 with 5 minutes left before halftime. The team would get their first lead after a Hunter Wetherell 3 with 4:30 remaining, but the lead would be short lived as the captains were down 25-33 at the half.
In the team room, the mood was unusual as the captains rarely been in this position all year. Senior Ben Watkins yelled at his brother to stop the selfish play or their season would be over with.
In the second half, it was more of the same. St. Thomas increased their lead to 11 at one point but the Captains fought back. With just under 5 mins remaining, the Captains cut the lead down to 4 and the momentum was on their side. But St. Thomas would quiet CNU’s run and win the game 62-66, ending the memorable season for the 30-2 captains. Even though the dream season ended earlier than they wanted to, this season will always be remembered by students, fans and players.
When it comes to Christopher Newport University Men’s basketball, the 2015-2016 team will go down as the best team ever. This year’s team achieved its first ever CAC Conference and Tournament championship, went undefeated in conference play, set a single season record for wins with 30, ranked as high as fourth nationally and went to their first NCAA Final Four. Before this season, only five teams in the program’s history went to the Sweet 16 in tournament play and only one of them advancing to the Elite Eight.
To see how truly great this year’s team was, the chart below compares the previous teams who reached the Sweet 16 with the 2015-16 team. The chart will compare their records, win percentage, conference record, conference finish (regular season and tournament), and postseason run to see who really the best is. Along with the 2015-16 team, I will be looking at the 1990-91, 1992-93, 1995-96, 1997-98, and 2000-01 teams.
|Teams||Record||Win %||Conference Record||Conference Finish||Postseason|
|1990-91||24-5||.828||10-0||1st Tourn. Champs||Sweet 16|
|1992-93||23-5||.821||8-2||2nd Tourn. Champs||Sweet 16|
|1995-95||24-6||.800||9-3||Tied 1st Tourn. Champs||Sweet 16|
|1997-98||26-2||.929||12-0||1st Tourn. Champs||Sweet 16|
|2000-01||15-5||.862||10-2||1st Tourn. Champs||Elite 8|
|2015-16||30-2||.938||18-0||1st Tourn. Champs||Final 4|
Based on these statistics alone, the 2015-16 team is the best team. They won the most games, had the best winning percentage and went the farthest in the NCAA tournament. But, let’s compare the game statistics of the 2000-2001 team to see if those stats prove otherwise. CNU does not have the official game stats of the other teams as their records start with the 1999-2000 team. The chart will compare both teams’ points per game (PPG), field goal percentage (FG%), 3 point percentage (3P%), free throw percentage (FT%), rebounds per game (RPG), assist per game (APG), turnovers per game (TPG), steals per game (SPG), and blocks per game (BPG). It will also look at their opponents stats (OPP) to see how they fared against both teams, looking at the opponent’s PPG, FG%, 3P%, RPG and TPG. CNU’s stats will be above and the opponent’s stats will be under:
|2000-01 / OPP||79.1 / 66 (+13.2)||.446 / .387||.334 / .324||.646||46.4 / 36.8 (+9.6)||16.9||14.3 / 15.5||8.2||6.3|
|2015-16 / OPP||74.7 / 61.5 (+13.2)||.455 / .396||.346 / .321||.701||37.9 / 31.8 (+6.1)||13.9||14.1 / 15.2||6.9||5.1|
When the game stats are presented, the teams are very similar. Both teams hold a 13.2 point advantage over their opponents. Both team’s FG % is above .40% and they held their opponent’s to under .40% shooting. The 2015-16 team shot better from the 3 point line and both teams held their opponents to .32% shooting from 3. The 2000-01 team scored 79.1 PPG compared to 2015-16’s 74.7, but the 2015-16 team is only gave up 61.5 PPG compared to 2000-01’s 66 PPG. The only sizable difference in stats came with rebounds. Both teams won their rebounding battle against their opponent’s with 2000-01 outrebounding their opponents by 9.6 and 2015-16 by 6.1. When it comes to grabbing rebounds, 2000-01 snagged 46.4 rebounds compared to 2015-16’s 37.9.
With those stats, it’s hard to say which team was better. Defensively, the 2015-16 gives up the least amount of points, but the 2000-01 team leads in OPP FG%, creates more turnovers, average more steals and block more shots. Also, for the year, the 2015-16 team was ranked seventh nationally for their defensive scoring, so this is one of the best defenses in college basketball. On offense, the 2000-01 team is scoring more points off their advantage with assist and rebounds, but the 2015-16 team shoots better from the field, from three, and the free throw line.
While their record may convince you that the 2015-16 team is the best, the stats may lead you to think otherwise. However, you can’t deny this was the most memorable year in CNU Men’s basketball.