EOU puts shine on No. 1 ranking

By Observer editorial January 16, 2013 10:05 am

EOU men’s basketball has reached lofty heights this winter. It seems appropriate that the Mountaineers find themselves on top of the NAIA Division II mountain with the first No. 1 ranking in program history.

The 2012-13 EOU squad is further proof of the old adage, “There’s no ‘I’ in team.” The Mountaineers have achieved a 20-1 record not with a star system but with depth — and with a No. 1 national ranking in total rebounding margin.

As the outside temperatures plummet, EOU continues to heat up. Also catching fire is enthusiasm at the university, in the community and with alumni scattered around the nation and the globe.

The coach responsible for building this outstanding team is Isaac Williams. Now in his fourth year at the helm, Williams has an 88-28 career record heading into this weekend’s games with Oregon Tech and Southern Oregon University.

But Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither was the Mountaineer program. Former EOU player Ryan Looney helped establish the strong foundation for the program when he was hired as coach in the spring of 2004. Looney and the Mountaineers went 4-22 that first season, but over the next four seasons the team turned that totally around, going 91-33, including the school’s first Cascade Collegiate Conference championship in 38 years.

This year, the players are seeing their hard work pay dividends. Yet they know they can’t rest on their laurels. They know they still have a lot of hard work yet to do, a lot of basketball to be played to prove at the end of the season that they are indeed No. 1. 

This weekend the Mountaineers have a chance to avenge their only loss when they play host to Southern Oregon University at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

But first EOU has to get by the perennially powerful Oregon Tech Owls at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Oregon Tech won national titles in 2004 and 2008 and are a model for what a small band of brothers can do.

If you are already on the bandwagon, great. If you haven’t seen EOU play, this weekend will be a chance to root the Mountaineers on to victory. Let’s show our southern guests some northern hospitality.