By Rick Sheek
A preseason favorite to win the Appalachian Athletic Conference, Milligan College’s basketball team met a sudden and disappointing end to its run in last month’s tournament.
Suddenly, there is new life. The Buffs (10-17) have received a bid to the Christian College Invitational Tournament.
The eight-team NAIA event is set for March 12-14 at Oakland City (Ind.) University. Up first for the Buffs is Ohio Mid-Western University from the Ohio Collegiate Athletic Conference.
“They’re athletic and pretty big,” Milligan coach Bill Robinson said on Friday evening. “We’ve seen similar teams already this year. They’re a lot like Point was.”
Game time is 3 p.m. a week Monday.
“They’re really good shooters,” Robinson said. “I think our strategy will be very similar to Point.”
Kyle Grisby, the sophomore point guard, leads the Buffs at 15 points per game. He is dishing out 3.3 assists per outing.
Junior forward Tyler DeVault pumped in 12.1 points a contest, while junior small forward Torian Sitton hit 9.4 a game.
Averaging 8.5 ppg., each were senior center Marshall Hardy and freshman guard Mickey Woods.
Hardy and DeVault are each hauling in six rebounds a game. Grisby has nailed 51 3-pointers on a 44.3 percentage.
Sitton and Grisby have each made 34 steals. DeVault has blocked 18 shots, while Hardy has swatted away 15.
“I think we have the opportunity to do pretty well,” Robinson said. “I’m not real familiar with all of the teams. I think we’ll play well.
“I feel pretty good about us going up there and playing well, and winning a couple of games.”
Milligan is currently on spring break. Robinson took a unique approach to the final days of practice with lacrosse and kickball before the usual basketball drills.
He said the young men are pumped for their season to continue, and he believes it is well deserved.
“Especially for the seniors to have three more games,” the coach said. “We took practice a little different. We were just trying to keep things different in warm-ups and practice. When they come back from spring break we’ll get focused for next weekend.”
The Buffs’ second-round opponent will either be Victory University or Virginia University-Lynchburg. Rhema College, Indiana Dabney University, Ecclesia College and host Oakland City University make up the rest of the tournament field.
The championship round of the CCIT is slated for Wednesday with the championship game set for an 8 p.m., tip.
“We are extremely excited to have the opportunity to play in the CCIT in Indiana,” Robinson said. “It is an honor and privilege for us to represent Milligan College on a national level. It also gives the seniors a chance to continue their career and for our program to compete for a tournament championship. The team is working hard and getting focus for the new challenge.”