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Intramural powerhouse UISSC prepares for nationals tourney

BY ETHAN SEBERT | APRIL 15, 2010 7:30 AM

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Six years.

That’s how long the core members of UISSC have played basketball together — longer than most college and high-school basketball teammates get to play with each other. But they aren’t really counting.

“I’ve really enjoyed it,” graduate student Clark Anderson said. “Generally, we have a lot of fun.”

Anderson, fellow graduate student Caleb Recker and third-year law students Nick Kron and Reed McManigal have been a part of UISSC since its inception, when they were just beginning their run of dominance in intramural sports.

The team has added players throughout the years, including junior Andre Murphy and graduate student Andrew Lundt this year, where the team went undefeated in the regular season but fell to Ole School, 83-72, in the All-University Finals on April 7.

McManigal, who was also a part Blar’s Co-Rec title loss to Team Miralax, said, “Losing those two games, I wasn’t going to end like that.”

Fortunately, he doesn’t have to.

UISSC won the American Collegiate Intramural Sports Men’s Division Regional held in Lincoln, Neb., on March 26-28. That gave the team an automatic bid for the organization’s National Basketball Championships, held in Raleigh, N.C., on April 30-May 2.

It also paid for UISSC’s entry fee, which normally costs $325, and an extra $500 for travel expenses.

This isn’t the group’s first intramural national tournament. The players competed in the national tournament in 2006, when they lost in the Elite Eight, and in 2007, when they lost in the Final Four.

Despite their successes, the UISSC crew still wants more.

“Nobody’s really satisfied unless we win it all,” McManigal said.

The UISSC squad did win it all at the Lincoln Regional, where McManigal was named to the All-Tournament Team and Murphy was named tournament MVP.

Murphy, who will play in his first national tournament, said he is excited about competing at that level. He joined UISSC after impressing some of its members on the Field House courts.

“I’m blessed to be playing with them,” Murphy said. “I’m just happy they asked me to play.”

After the loss to Ole School, UISSC added two players for the national trip — senior Shea McMurray from Cruncheazy and junior Chad Bruntz from Sigma Chi. The founding members hope the new additions will help them end this year’s nationals run with a championship.

“They never won nationals,” Murphy said. “Hopefully, I’m the last piece of the puzzle.”

The members of UISSC are also confident they can bring home a title this year after learning some valuable lessons in the All-U Finals against Ole School. They realized they need to play the entire game with a sense of urgency, value the ball more and firm up their defense in order to be victorious at nationals.

However, they won’t be all business in North Carolina.

“We’ll definitely have a good time when we’re there,” Kron said. “It’s like a vacation. This is the last time I’ll get to go spend a weekend playing basketball with my friends.”

That’s why this year’s national tournament is important to the squad. It will likely be the last year of intramural competition for most of the founding members, but that won’t stop them from playing together.

“No tears will be shed. It’s not like we’re never going to see each other again,” McManigal said. “There are plenty more games to be played.”

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