NKU Embracing The Challenge Ahead

03/17/2017 06:54 PM

If you’re from the state of Kentucky, basketball is in your blood.

“I know I’ve got a lot of family members thats Kentucky fans,” freshman guard and Kentucky-native Mason Faulkner said with a laugh.

“Ever since I was a little kid I dreamed of playing in the national tournament so to have that dream come true is just- it’s a great feeling,” added the 2016 Mr. Kentucky Basketball and freshman forward, Carson Williams.

Indianapolis-native and junior guard Jordan Garnett agreed.

“Usually all the fan support either goes to Louisville or UK or other schools so it feels good to have some support around us,”

For Drew McDonald, a sophomore forward from Northern Kentucky, this game is a bit of a childhood dream.

“I grew up a Kentucky fan to be honest, but right now I’m all Norse. It’s pretty cool going against a team I grew up- my whole family was UK fans, so just when you’re in that area it’s either UK or Louisville or Xavier/CIncinnati and we grew up on the blue blood part of the state.”

As the Norse prepare to face the blue bloods of college basketball, they know many are counting them out from the start.

“Not being a five-star, you kind of get overlooked sometimes and we have that chip on our shoulder. Everybody is doing it for Kentucky, doing it for our cities where no one knows where we’re from. Its just a blessing and we’re trying to go out as hard as we can,” Faulkner explained.

“We like being the underdogs. We’ve been the underdogs all season so it’s nothing new to us,” added Indy-native Brennan Gillis, a sophomore forward.

It’s the first time the Norse have made it to the Big Dance and they say it’s a feeling that can’t be beat.

“I’ve been at NKU for three years now and I was there for the low times and to experience it with these guys- I’ve been through a lot with them, you know, a lot of work so it feels pretty good,” said junior forward and Indy-native Jordan Garnett.

“We didn’t really care who we played, so it’s just another game,” Faulkner said. “After the conference tournament, we’re just blessed. We would have got it either way if we had won or lost, but it really is a blessing. No matter who is in front of us, we’re just going to play as hard as we can.”

“It’s a great accomplishment. Obviously we’re really excited to be here and we’r just blessed right now, so we’re just here to play one game at a time and hopefully keep continuing our journey,” Gillis added.

The difference between the regular season and tournament is noticeable.

“You’re starting to see a lot less UK, UC and Xavier shirts on campus. More NKU shirts as the year’s gone on and more support from the student community and the community as a whole,” McDonald explained.

No matter the opponent, the prep is always the same.

“We’re a tough match-up for them too so, you know, we match up really well with them. I feel like we have a good chance if we just go out and do what we do,” Garnett explained.

“When you play UK, it’s really always a road game whether you play them- whether it’s a neutral site. So, I mean, I’m expecting a lot of blue jerseys and blue shirts, but I expect some black and gold in there as well.”

Regardless of the outcome, NKU has made history just by making this far.

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