Augusta State gearing up for third NCAA tournament in three years

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News 12 First at Five, March 12, 2009

AUGUSTA, Ga -- It's basketball fever in our area: the USC Aiken Pacers and the ASU Jaguars gear up for the NCAA Southeast Regional Tournament this weekend at Christenberry Fieldhouse.

The Jaguars are just off a hard fought Peach Belt Conference win against the Pacers and fans tell News 12, home court advantage is key.

It's the third consecutive NCAA tournament at home for the Jags and their faithful blue crew is ready.

You might say Demetrius Howard loves basketball, "It's in my veins."
Especially, ASU basketball. "They have a very talented team." The Virginia native and current Augusta Groove player should know, he helped carry the team to the National Championship game last year, before graduating. "The whole experience was very exciting. They've already been down the road, know what it takes, shouldn't be any problems getting back, I hope they get back."

But his former coach, Dip Metress says it's no slam dunk. "This is a one and done deal." For the Jags, playing and hosting this year's tournament won't be easy." It's very difficult because of high expectations. I just talked to our team on Monday and said we go into this thing zero and zero and we have to go in with a chip on our shoulder."

Standing in their way, the USC Aiken Pacers who's loss to the Jags in last week's Peach Belt Conference, only helped to fuel the rivalry. "It's very good for the community that challenge, to have everyone come out and see the two local teams collide."

From the court, to the stands, ASU Sophomore John Bussie says he'll be there to support his team. "It's very heated, very competitive. I think it's going to be packed, I wouldn't want to miss it."

With the banner up and the sponsorships out, John says Christenberry Fieldhouse is posed for glory. "Nobody can come to our house and beat us. I think we're going all the way this year."

And from Howard, a man who's been there, "Stiff competition, no easy nights." But still, Demetrius says he already knows who he'll see come out on top. "Winner will be Augusta State no doubt in my mind."

And an added bonus, six of these eight teams are from out of town, which will no doubt provide a local boost to our economy this weekend.

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