TC football, hoops a huge feat

What Tabor College accomplished in football and basketball this year is one for the ages. To call it amazing or extraordinary is an understatement. Throw around almost any superlative you can, and it?s still an understatement.

What are the odds that a football team goes unbeaten in conference, followed by an unbeaten season in KCAC men?s basketball (20-0) and only one loss by its women?s team (19-1) in conference play?

Consider further that after both basketball teams easily claimed KCAC regular-season titles, both won the post-season tournament championship as well.

I asked KCAC Commis?sioner Scott Crawford about the rarity of such an occurrence, and what he told me is not surprising. Since the conference tournament began in the 1993-94 season, ?Tabor College is the first school to win both the regular season and tournament championships with both men?s and women?s basketball in the same season in this ?modern era? of the KCAC,? Crawford said.

He went on to say that he does not have records earlier than 1993-94, nor is he aware of a conference tournament prior to that season.

In short, we just witnessed history.

The football team won one postseason game before losing in the playoffs. The women?s basketball team made it to the final eight before bowing out at the national tournament for the second consecutive year, and the men?s team lost in the first round of the national tournament.

Anything can happen once you?re in postseason play, but the way the men lost in a blowout had to be disappointing for the team after such a great season. About the only blemish in recent years for the Tabor men has been its inability to win games at the national tournament.

For two consecutive years, the Tabor women have been knocking on the door of a Final Four appearance.

Credit goes to the players, of course, but you have to start with the recruiting and coaching of men?s coach Micah Ratzlaff and women?s coach Shawn Reed.

Whatever level of college basketball you follow, the coach is responsible for finding and recruiting talented student-athletes who are willing to play the style of ball preached by that particular coach. There?s little doubt that both Ratzlaff and Reed are succeeding in that endeavor.

This isn?t the first time that their teams have won titles, but it?s the first time they?ve either finished unbeaten in conference or nearly unbeaten, in the women?s case.

I asked both coaches if people realize how hard it is to go unbeaten in a 20-game conference schedule.

Ratzlaff said, ?Tough question, because I don?t know what people think, but I can say that it is not easy. It takes a little luck and a great group of young talented men who believe in their coaches and teammates every single night.?

Reed said, ?I don?t think people understand and it is more difficult to accomplish on the men?s side because there tends to be more parity on their side of competition. There have been multiple women?s teams complete that feat, but what the Tabor men did this year is truly amazing, especially with a true round-robin 20-game schedule.?

Ratzlaff said he didn?t talk about finishing the conference season unbeaten until the final week of the regular season.

?Honestly didn?t think about it much at all until there were a couple games left,? he said.

Reed said, ?Maybe we shouldn?t have discussed it, but the talk was becoming very apparent and The Wichita Eagle did a story on our teams, so it was difficult and next to impossible to avoid.?

The Tabor women lost their second to last game of the regular season by one point.

I?ll have more reaction from Ratzlaff and Reed in my next column, but as a longtime columnist and Tabor alum, let me just say, it doesn?t get much better than this.

Hillsboro resident Joe Klein?sasser is director of news and media relations at Wichita State University. He can be reached at Joe.Klein?

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