The Oklahoma City University Stars did what I thought they would- or what I hoped they would, anyway. The Stars went to Frankfort, Kentucky with a 30-1 record. The Stars left the NAIA Division I National Tournament as champions after winning five games in seven days.
OCU downed opponent after opponent with relative ease. Their game scores - 91-73 vs. Our Lady of the Lake; 76-47 vs. Westminster; 78-61 vs. defending champions, Asuza Pacific; 85-55 vs. Lubbock Christian, the only team to hand OCU a loss this season; 69-48 vs. Union in the championship, a program heading to the NCAA Division II ranks next season.
This marks their sixth national title and fourth since the 2000s began. Throughout the tournament, the Stars' margin of victory was 24 points. For the season, OCU outscored their opponents by 32.1 points a game, shot 45% from the field, grabbed nine rebounds a night more than their competition, forced 10 extra turnovers and racked up 3,035 points - including six 100-point affairs - in 36 games.
But this one has to taste bittersweet for the bunch, particularly head coach Rob Edmisson. The 'sweet' part is easy to get for the Phyllis Holmes Coach of the Year. But, do you see those two hands in the left side of the picture not in the typical '#1' pose? That's a "C". Not for "City", or "Champion", or anything else you might be able to think of. But for Corbin, Rob's son. Corbin unexpectedly passed away not too long after we returned from last season's national tournament in Tennessee.
The sneakers the group wore all season were specially made Nike's honoring Corbin. The back of OCU's conference championship t-shirts had an orange 4 surrounded by a big C - 4Corbin. Edmisson spoke a few times about "what this team has gone through and overcome" this season, and this was certainly one of many things the team had to cope with since their last trip to nationals. He never really said much more specifically about those trials and tribulations, or at least not publicly. But Tuesday night in Frankfort, he made a statement about what he had personally gone through this season.
For coach Edmisson, this one was 4Corbin.