Newman guard Jake Darby against WSU center/forward J.T. Durley

Exhibition games against D-I opponents set stage for NU athletics growth


Newman Terrell Norhtington and WSU David Kyles in exhibition game

Newman guard Terrell Northington sweeps past David Kyles in the WSU - NU Game

The Newman University basketball teams kicked off their 2009-2010 campaigns in a big way, opening with exhibition games in November against two formidable NCAA Division I schools. The Jets first travelled across town to take on Wichita State University for men’s and women’s exhibitions, then travelled south for exhibitions at the University of North Texas.

Newman came up short in each game, but it wasn’t really about winning or losing.

“Opening the basketball season with exhibition games at Wichita State and North Texas was huge for Newman University,” Athletics Director Vic Trilli said. “Those games said a lot about the vision of the Newman athletic programs. For two weeks our student-athletes got to experience life in the Division I basketball world. I believe those games were just the beginning of many great events for Newman athletics and our new growth within the NCAA.”

Newman wasn’t the only one to benefit from the exhibition games. The men’s contest against Wichita State drew WSU’s largest-ever exhibition crowd to Charles Koch Arena, where 10,228 fans watched the Jets battle the Shockers. While Newman’s Chip Steven drained three three-pointers on his way to 15 points, Wichita State came out on top, 81-69.

“That really was a great weekend for Wichita,” Trilli said. “It wouldn’t have been possible without the cooperation of coaches and administration on both ends, and I am very thankful that we were able to make it happen. I hope it’s something that will continue for years to come.”

The impact of the exhibition games has been felt across the board in the Newman Athletics Department. The Jets have enjoyed increased media coverage, with NBC affiliate KSN-Channel 3 taking on the role of media partner for the Jets this season, and the Wichita Eagle running a dunk by junior Will Burdette on its cover. The men’s basketball team had its best season in five years, earning a berth to the Heartland Conference Championship tournament as the No. 2 seed. Although the team suffered a disappointing 74-72 loss in their first round, Trilli sees plenty of good things for the Jets on the horizon.

“When you do big things, people notice,” he said. “We still have a lot of growing to do, but we’re on our way. To some, those exhibition games were just that: exhibitions. But to us, they were huge steps in the right direction for a growing athletic program.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,