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Winding up an improbable run at a national title on Monday, the Campbellsville University Tigers left Kansas City with their heads held high.
After all, the Tigers went farther than any other Campbellsville University basketball team in history - to the semifinals of the national championship tournament.
Coach Keith Adkins said there will still be smiles on their faces.
Most of the Tiger faithful followed the Tigers through the voice of K-Country and CU radio announcer Bryan Blair. But Adkins was appreciative of the support no matter where it came from. He said CU fans travel better than any other school he knows.
A school can't buy the national exposure CU got for its basketball program and the university while in Kansas City. The semifinal game was carried on a national television feed and, according to Blair, many non-partisan observers were pulling for the Tigers to move on.
But all is not lost. The Tigers will return the nucleus of this year's team along with two injured starters for another run at a national title in 2008-2009. With a good recruiting class, there's no reason not to believe that the Tigers will be competitive in 2008-2009.
Bubba Long, Clinton Joshua and Clint Graham, who returned home for his final year of college basketball, have worn their uniforms for the last time.
The Tigers lost All-American Zach Allender to a knee injury in the first game of the season. Kyle Martin, a starter, broke his hand in a game against University of the Cumberlands in the Mid-South Conference Tournament.
It was a season of firsts for the Tigers, but the carrot still hangs.
As senior Bubba Long told an NAIA reporter in Kansas City: "The guys in the locker room are already focused and motivated for next year."
Hey, the fans are already looking forward to it, too. Congratulations on a job well done.