Don’t tell Augustana football player Marcus Prince that it was a surprise that the young Vikings basketball team made it to the finals.
In fact, the junior defensive back for the football team takes some offense at the underlying suggestion the Augustana basketball team maybe wasn’t supposed to make it this far.
“The expectations for the basketball team are very high,” said Prince, 20, a native of New Orleans who is majoring in psychology and business and plays cornerback for the Vikings. “The expectations for the football team are very high.
“We support each other,” Prince said during half time of the Vikings game against the Williams Ephs with Augustana ahead by a score of 42-34. The Vikings went on to win the game 90-71.
Although Augustana graduated its top six scorers from a 29-2 team a year ago, Prince was not surprised with the Vikings’ 23-8 season.
“I think it’s a discredit to them to say this was unexpected,” said Prince. “This is a very good team and they have a great coach. They have great chemistry, and that’s why they look as though they’ve played together a long time. They’re champions.”
Prince was one of about 300 people who showed up at the Roy J. Carver Center for Physical Education on Augustana’s campus Friday night to watch the game against Williams on a large screen television. A good portion of them did not attend Augustana. They were there to support the team.
“Oh my God, this was fantastic,” said Tim Terronez, 60, of Moline.
“I haven’t missed a men’s or women’s basketball game all season,” he said.
“Grey Giovanine is a great coach,” Terronez said. The Vikings may have a young team, “but he has them playing like veterans,” Terronez added. “I can’t wait for tomorrow night’s game.”
The Vikings will face the Babson Beavers from Wellesley, Massachusetts, a 5 p.m. central time.
The crowd at Carver joined with the Augie crowd in Salem in cheering on the Vikings. The Augustana student section could be heard over the television feed and the people in Carver chimed in.
The chants of “De-fence, De-fence” were as loud in the Carver arena as they were in Salem, as was the pounding of feet on the stands
Joy Hayes of Bettendorf watched the game her 11-year-old daughter, Alma, and her mother, Barbara Fenton of Davenport.
Their connection with Augustana is that Alma attends basketball camp there.
“We are so excited,” Joy Hayes said.
It was Alma who was bouncing after the game. “They were shooting the threes early on,” she said. And when the going got tough and Williams took a 1-point lead in the second half, “they didn’t give up.”
Jane Bahls, wife of Augustana President Steven Bahls, will need to buy a blue and gold tie and socks for her son Daniel to wear when he next appears in court in Springfield, Massachusetts. Daniel Bahls is an attorney who went to Williams, and the bets were on.
“Had Williams won, Steve would have had to have worn a purple and white tie and purple and white socks,” Jane Bahls said.
She said that the words, “Why not us? Why not now?” has been the mantra of the players and coaches all year long.
“Why not us? Why not now?,” Jane Bahls said. “It is so much fun.”
To watch the final game, Augustana students, faculty, staff and supporters will meet today at the River House Bar & Grill, 1510 River Drive, Moline.