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Cheering on our team

Excitement for Longwood University men’s basketball was ignited in a special way last season, as new Head Coach Griff Aldrich came in and spearheaded significant improvement and unprecedented achievement by the Lancers on the court during their time as an NCAA Division I program.

As is often the case, a variety of factors, including injuries, contributed to some difficult seasons for the team in recent years. Entering the 2018-19 campaign, the Lancers had not reached double figures in wins since the 2015-16 season.

Then Aldrich came in and helped Longwood finish with a 16-18 overall record for the 2018-19 season. Its regular season was among the program’s best in nearly two decades.

And then there was another achievement implied by having to differentiate between a regular season and another season — the Lancers participated in the postseason for the first time in their Division I era.

They were invited to compete in the Roman College Basketball Invitational.

On award shows, the saying often goes, “It’s an honor just to be nominated.”

This may have seemed like a reasonable primary sentiment for the Lancers to hold given that this was the first time they had ever received such a postseason invitation, and undoubtedly the Lancers were honored, but they were not at all ready to settle for a simple postseason appearance.

They were able to host the first-round game, and wow, did they ever give Farmville a show.

The Lancers dominated the University of Southern Mississippi, resulting in a 90-68 victory over a Golden Eagles team that had finished tied for second in Conference USA and that ended the season after that game with an overall record of 20-13.

The tremendous positive momentum that the 2018-19 season generated for Longwood men’s basketball has made this a particularly exciting time in 2019 for Lancer fans as the 2019-20 season gets underway.

The Lancers (2-1) have already given some fresh illustrations that they are no one-season wonder. They entered Thursday night’s game against visiting St. Francis College coming fresh off of their largest-ever win over a Division I opponent. They defeated the University of Maryland Eastern Shore 85-55 on Tuesday, Nov. 12, benefiting from a season-high 13 three-pointers.

Athletics can play a powerful role in promoting the health of a community. We all have our own opinions, and some of them may differ strongly from our neighbors, but sports can be one of those spaces in society where we come together in common cause — to support OUR team.

The more high-profile the sport, the more profound the impact of success in it can be. Given the special prominence of college men’s basketball, Longwood has undoubtedly dedicated a great deal of time, effort and energy into trying to achieve success in that realm of athletics.

The fact that the school is achieving that success makes it a particularly exciting time to unite in the common cause of supporting the Lancers on an especially big stage.

We encourage everyone in the community to make some trips to Willett Hall this season to cheer on our team.