Jake Rhode had his sights set on a Division III title.
“We really felt we were going to win the National Championship,” said Rhode, the junior guard from Chicago Heights, IL via email.
But the team won't get the chance. NCAA President Mark Emmert and the NCAA Board of Governors canceled all remaining winter and spring sports championships, which included the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Championship due to the growing threat of COVID-19.
Therefore, this Saturday, Mar. 14, Sweet 16 matchup against Pomona-Pitzer has been canceled, disappointing Elmhurst basketball players who’d been looking forward to competing.
“Obviously I think this speaks for the rest of the team as well, we are sad about what’s taken place. That’s not to say we disagree with the decision made by the NCAA, but more for just how hard we all worked to get this point and to not be able to finish this out really hurts everyone very deeply.”
Junior forward Lavon Thomas expressed sympathy for seniors who won't be able to play again.
“I feel the most upset for all my senior brothers that won’t get to finish out this historic season that we had going,” Said Thomas. “I wish the best for them and they will always be family to me.”
This news comes just after EC opted to transition to online classes beginning Monday, Mar. 16. The college has asked students to leave campus if they are able to due to the evolving COVID-19 public health threat.
The Bluejays had one of their best seasons in years by capturing the CCIW tournament title, winning two NCAA tournament games, and reaching the Sweet 16 of the Division III Men’s Basketball tournament. Overall, the Bluejays went 25-5 for the what was played of the 2019-2020 season.