For the second time in program history, the University of Northwestern–St. Paul’s men’s basketball team won the NCCAA tournament. Having received their last NCCAA tournament title in 2010, this victory was a memorable bookend to the decade.
This national title was also special for the UNW Eagles’ head coach, Tim Grosz, who just finished his 21st season as head coach of the men’s basketball program. He said that while it was no surprise his team had the ability to win the tournament, it was surprising that the season actually took place.
“We weren’t really sure if there was going to be a season,” said Grosz. “We had [to adopt] a sort of day-by-day mindset leading up to it.” Grosz said that while there were six games scheduled in the fall, they only ended up playing two of them. “The spring semester was much better,” continued Grosz. “We only had one postponed game.”
Entering the national tournament, Grosz described his team as “inexperienced,” to a certain degree. “I believe we only had five players returning from our previous varsity team, and we also only had two seniors,” said Grosz. “Age-wise, we were pretty inexperienced and fresh.”
Next season, the men’s basketball team can bring the energy and positive experience of a national title to their future games.
While basketball is a team sport, there are often players who go above and beyond. “We really played great as a team, and everyone had a lot to contribute,” said Grosz. “But Kyle Kaemingk and Noah Alm really showed up this tournament, and I believe they even got a few awards in the end.”
There is a specific time in many tournaments when teams realize they can win. For Grosz and his team, that realization came two weeks prior to the tournament. “It was when we played St. Scholastica before the actual tournament,” said Grosz. “They had been undefeated up until that point, so beating them was definitely a wake-up call for us.” After the victory against St. Scholastica, the UNW Eagles capitalized on their winning streak and secured their place in the NCCAA tournament.
Throughout the tournament, Grosz said his game plan and strategy were simple, and that they were the same ones the team had used all season. “We always want to compete with purpose,” said Grosz. “That is how we have always done it, and that is how we will always do it.” Grosz said this always drives winning for them, because otherwise winning is meaningless.
Colossians 3:23 is a Bible verse Grosz enjoys emphasizing when every season starts. He added, “It really drove us during the tournament as well.” Grosz said that while winning the tournament was special, he does not want to get lost focusing on the destination: “I really want the team to enjoy the journey together.”