FORT KENT, Me (WAGM) - The UMFK men's basketball team will be playing in the USCAA tournament on Wednesday. Isaac Luken has more with the Bengals.
"We've been looking forward to it since September when we started in the weight room and conditioning. The main goal was to make it to the national tournament, so we're satisfied so far with that," said head coach Tom Bird.
The Bengals finished the regular season at 22-8 and are the one seed in the USCAA tournament. Bird says that the teams improvement off the court helped them go from outside the playoffs last year to tourney lock.
"We've got a lot of leadership this year which I think is a major key to it. Guys willingness to put it out on the line, willing to anything they need to do for us to succeed," Bird said.
UMFK won't be happy just to be there playing. With the success that the other athletic teams at the University have had lately, the men's basketball team wants some for themselves.
"No, no, no. We're going to win. We haven't seen any of the teams we're facing down there so we're staying humble, but we are excited. We're happy, but not satisfied. We all want to win a ring and bring it back to Fort Kent," explained senior Rosevelt Smith Jr.
"Well it's going to be a great experience for all of them. You know something none of us have ever experienced before. Every other team in the University has been to nationals except for us and this group. This is a special feeling, they've worked hard and they deserve it," Bird added.
"Enjoy the moment. Like coach said, this is the first time for all of us just being there. So just enjoy the moment," said senior Fred Sanchez.
The Bengals will face Dean College in the quarterfinals and regardless of the outcome Wednesday will play another game on Thursday.
"They're really athletic, they're young. They've played a couple of common opponents as ours and had similar results to ours. We expect a really tough contest in that first round," Bird said.