To the Editor,
Today “March Madness” begins for 68 NCAA Division I men’s basketball teams. When we get to Monday, April 3, 2017, there will be 67 teams that have been eliminated and one team and coach experiencing the joy of winning it all.
“March Madness” started on the NCAA Division II level on Saturday for 64 teams and on Saturday, March 25, there will be one NCAA Division II team and coach crowned as 2017 champions.
In Robeson County and in the region we need to rejoice in the magnificent work of UNC Pembroke’s men’s basketball Coach Ben Miller. He came to UNC Pembroke in 2008 and inherited a program that had fallen from the storied success of previous UNC Pembroke coaches, including James T. Sampson, Howard Dean, Lacey Gane, Joe Gallagher, Billy Lee, and John Haskins.
Ben Miller in the past seven years has taken UNC Pembroke to four NCAA Division II appearances. On Saturday the Braves saw their season come to an end with a record of 24-8. This team won the 2017 Peach Belt Conference Tournament and were PBC regular season co-champions.
In Charlotte, N.C., on Saturday, March 11, it was evident that a lot of people from the region have pride in what the Braves basketball program has accomplished. The robust turnout by #BraveNation was strong for a noon NCAA tournament game and that is a tribute to the relationship building that UNC Pembroke and especially Coach Miller have done with our community.
This won’t be the year that UNC Pembroke wins the NCAA Division II national championship but that should not stop any us from celebrating the great achievements of the 2017 UNC Pembroke men’s basketball team. Go Braves!