DAYTON, Ohio — Many thought the back-to-back Southland-champion Islanders should have -- and would -- avoid the First Four in Dayton and head straight to March Madness’ round of 64.
But Texas A&M-Corpus Christi coach Steve Lutz didn’t mince too many words on the subject at Monday’s news conference.
He’s just glad his team is dancing.
"Like, if you're complaining about coming to Dayton and the First Four, you're messed up in my book," said Islanders' men's coach Steve Lutz. "I'm not trying to be . . . whatever. We're in the NCAA Tournament. Like, who's complaining. You don't (expletive) about going to the NCAATournament. There's a lot of teams that are sitting at home right now, there's a lot of teams playing in other tournaments that would trade in a heartbeat."
"You know last year, you kinda come in as a freshman in college and . . . like very eyes wide open to everything," said guard Trevian Tennyson. "So this year, we've already been here, we've seen, so now you're just focused on the game, really.
One Islanders player who will not be on the court Tuesday is star point guard Terrion Murdix, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Southland Conference tournament.
Even though Murdix didn’t want to speak on camera after getting a bit emotional, his coach and his teammates said they’re dedicating this First Four performance to him.
"When they brought Terrion back from the hospital and those guys ran out to meet him at his car and tell him how much they loved him and missed him, and how awful they felt for him, and then to have him wait for him to cut down the net, I mean, it should just warm everybody's heart."
"Terrion is a big loss for us, but we all wanna do it for him," said forward Isaac Mushila. "He's one our plauers, our brother, so we're ready to win that game tomorrow for him."
The Islanders will be taking on Southeast Missouri State, who is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 23 years -- similar to A&M-CC last year.
That game will tip-off at 5:40 p.m. CT and can be seen on truTV.
Digital director Ana Tamez contributed to this story.