Boy, is it fun looking back at this...Even though no Augustana men's sport had ever won a national championship, big things were expected from the 2015-16 basketball team.
They rolled through the regular season including a win at Iowa on a last second shot by Dan Jansen and knew as they headed to Frisco, Texas that a national title was within their grasp... Until Jansen suffered a major foot injury in practice and couldn't play in the first game.
The Vikes were getting blown out by Tarleton State when senior Alex Richter and Casey Schilling took over. Alex scored a career high 32 points and the Vikes poured in 57 points in the 2nd half to rally for one of the more emotional and exhilarating wins I've seen, 86-79.
In the second game, after a sluggish start, Jansen came off the bench to score eight quick points and they rolled into the championship game beating Western Oregon 74-55.
And they finished the Cinderella story in the title game as Jansen, Schilling and Richter were not going to be denied... They beat Lincoln Memorial 90-81 for the first national title in men's sports and capped an amazing 2-year run by a team that had two potential players of the year in Division II.
"I'm so proud of this team and everyone with the whole Dan injury. We battled a lot of adversity like you said, but we're national champs baby, we did it,” said Senior Alex Richter.
“That team was so supportive, that Tarleton game showed how good our team is as a whole. For our guys to lose one of their starters and rally from way down to get a ten point win, how amazing,” said Division II Player of the Year, Dan Jensen.
“We just wanted to go out with this national title. It's just a great feeling and it's one of those things we'll never forget as long as we live,” said Tournament MVP Casey Schilling.
“I didn't want to end on those seniors with a negative note. They're so special, not only to our program but they're just special to me,” said Head Coach Tom Billeter.
To overcome the injury to the D-II Player of the Year and still win that national championship, that's a lifetime memory for Augustana fans.