CALDWELL, IDAHO — The Yotes Men's Basketball Team just put up one of the greatest regular seasons in program history. We caught up with the team to chat about their historic season.
The College of Idaho Men's basketball team has had a record-breaking season, and it all starts from their upperclassmen.
"I truly believe this is the toughest team I've ever coached, and again, it's because of our senior leadership. Our three seniors are super tough and tough doesn't just mean bullying guys around for rebounds or scoring points, it means showing up to class every day, it means showing up for practice, it means having fun when we're on the bus," said College of Idaho men's basketball head coach Colby Blaine.
They're a big reason that this year's team secured the number one seed heading in the NAIA Division Two tournament for the first time in program history.
"The approach didn't change it all, it wasn't like we're number one, we're good now. It's let's keep going, let's go towards those bigger goals we have of getting back to Sioux Falls and pushing through the final four and getting to the national championship," said Yotes basketball senior guard Nate Bruneel.
"We have a lot of guys that are very skilled on this team but they give up a lot of stats just to see us win and that's kind of showing in our record this year and that's how we've been so successful," said Yotes basketball senior forward Jake Bruner.
This year's team not only won the Cascade Conference Championship, but went 30 and three on the regular season...though those impressive stats are new to the program.
"We've had three 30-win seasons in my time here, including last year, my first year as the head coach and so we've had a lot of success, but this year's super special because a lot of these guys have invested a lot of time in this program and it's fun to see them reap the benefits," said Coach Blaine.
After making the NAIA Final Four the past two years in a row, championship expectations are sky this year if three really is a charm...but they know they can't overlook anyone.
"We've always kind of been the one game at a time, but having that goal up there really just make each game mean kinda means something more, and we're not gonna look over any team or do anything like that but we're gonna bring it," said Bruneel.
And it would mean the world to these seniors to hang up their first championship banner since 1996.
"Knowing all the great teams that have come through here, all the great players and great coaches that have been a part of this great program. to be able to be considered one of the best teams that has come through here would be huge and obviously that's the goal that everyone is working for," said Bruner.
If the Yotes do take home the hardware this year, then the self-proclaimed "Redeem Team" will have accomplished it's goal.
"Even though we've had a bunch of really good seasons before us, there's some things that we haven't accomplished before this year and so every game we've played has kind of been a redemption game. So, being number one, not necessarily the goal. This team is playing with a chip on their shoulder and that's all we want to prove," said Coach Blaine.