A Bruin Homecoming!!The Bruins celebration continued today in ultimate fashion as we celebrated the men's basketball championship with all of our favorite fans…You! SLCC AthleticsPhoto credits: Michael Waters, Student Producer of End of the Bench
Posted by SLCC Student Media Center on Wednesday, March 23, 2016
The Salt Lake Community College men’s basketball team received another reminder that they are the best junior college program in the country.
SLCC held a victory party for the Bruin basketball team Wednesday in the Taylorsville Redwood Campus Student Event Center to give the college community an opportunity to celebrate the school’s second NJCAA championship.
As streamers and confetti fell onto their heads, the Bruins felt the love from family, friends and local SLCC supporters. With free popcorn, free t-shirts, dancing and the National Championship trophy all present, smiles were on the faces of all in attendance.
Coaches and players certainly had reasons to smile, which is something they lacked just over a month ago.
The Bruins had lost their final three games of the regular season, making their goals of winning a region championship — and a national championship — seem almost impossible. Something had to change — and change fast — in order for the Bruins to reach their goals.
Someone had to step up.
“[Assistant] coach [Paul] Marble gave a great motivational speech before our semifinal game of the Region Tournament,” says SLCC forward Tyler Rawson. “Ever since that, our confidence grew in each other, our team chemistry went up higher and we had a lot more trust in each other. I give a lot props to Coach Marble for that because I feel like that really was the turning point of our season.”
The motivational speech made a world of difference.
It’s fitting that Marble gave the speech, since he had been in this situation before. The longtime assistant was a part of the coaching staff that guided the Bruins to their 2009 title.
“Each National Championship is just amazingly sweet,” Marble says. “In 2009 we didn’t dominate like we did in this tournament, we battled. And over the years this program just gets better and better and better. And these kids showed that and what they can do in this national tournament.”
Bruin center Scott Cook believed his team could win the title early in the week.
“I knew [we would win] Tuesday night, when we totally took control of Odessa; we beat the snot out of them,” Cook says. “So I knew that if we can play so well against them, we can beat anyone here.”
After taking care of the Wranglers in the second round, SLCC rolled off big wins against Southwest Tennessee and Gillette and held a double-digit lead for most of the championship game against Hutchinson.
All of these results show a massive transformation from a team that was destined for disappointment just a few weeks prior. And SLCC head coach Todd Phillips wants to carry that momentum into the next season. With only three players returning next year, recruiting has already started.
“We have big shoes to fill,” Phillips says. “But we don’t rebuild this program — we reload.”
As the party ended and fans left the Student Event Center, streamers on the ground and the smell of popcorn were all that remained of the celebration. But with the 2016 championship now at home in Salt Lake, all the Bruins have to do now is soak it in.