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The Kennesaw State Owls made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history and nearly pulled off a shocking first-round upset over Xavier.
The Owls led at times, but a few small errors at the end of the game added up, handing the 72-67 win to Xavier thanks in part to a late 15-0 run.
Still, the game marked a watershed moment in the program’s history. No one seemed to realize that more than head coach Amir Abdur-Rahim. The fourth-year Kennesaw State head coach teared up in an emotional press conference after the game while seated with his players.
Kennesaw St. Head Coach Is Invested
“That’s a great question,” Abdur-Rahim said when asked if the tournament appearance was the start of something big for the program. “With all due respect, the beginning was four years ago. We’re here today, man, because…”
This is when the emotion hit. When Abdur-Rahim’s eyes welled up after glancing at some of his players.
“The beginning was four years ago,” he said with a slight quiver in his voice; one of his players giving him a consoling pat on the back. “These are tears of joy, man, because we made a commitment to this university; we made a commitment to these guys sitting next to me, man. That we were going to show up every day for them.
“And… when you get to a place like this, again, these are tears of joy, because it takes a special group of people to commit to something and stay to see that vision through. So, the beginning was four years ago, but you’d better believe this is our standard. This is our expectation.”
While their trip to the Big Dance didn’t last too long, I don’t think too many of us will be shocked to see Kennesaw State back there soon.
Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle