On March 17, 2012 Cedarville University Men’s Basketball, with CSL alum Ryan Neises (Class of 2010) on staff, won its first ever NCCAA Division 1 National Championship. Neises serves as Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach for the Ohio school which is completing its transition year from NAIA to NCAA Division 2 athletics.
Because 2011-2012 was a transition year for the Yellow Jackets, the team was ineligible to compete in the NCAA Division 2 national tournament. Instead, they were privileged with competing in the National Christian College Athletic Association tournament. Cedarville was the #1 seed in their region, and eventually became the #1 seed in the national tournament which was played in Lake Winona, Indiana the week of March 12. NCAA and NAIA teams from all over the nation came to Indiana to try and take home the title, but Cedarville won their three games during the week by an average of 18.7 ppg, dominating their way to the national championship.
The team completed the season with a 23-9 record in their first season competing at the NCAA Division 2 level. CU’s toughest schedule in the history of their program led them to play 11 consecutive road games at the beginning of the season. The challenging stretch included games at three Top 10 Division 2 teams in the nation, as well as a game at Division 1 Nevada in which Cedarville took the Wolfpack to the limit and had the game within one possession with 2 minutes to go.
The gritty Cedarville team learned from their adversity and got better on their way to a national championship season. The Yellow Jackets lose only one Senior and is well prepared for their first year eligible for Division 2 postseason, and they will join the newly formed GMAC Conference with teams stretching from Ohio to Tennessee.
Cedarville is under the direction of Head Coach Pat Estepp and in addition to Neises, is also assisted by Brent Newman. As Neises adds “national champion” to his resume he looks forward to continuing his coaching career carrying the VCU Center for Sport Leadership name with him.