Editor's note: Doug Hennes, vice president for university and government relations, submitted a guest column to The Scroll.
For weeks, as the St. Thomas men’s basketball team’s undefeated record grew, I blabbered rather incessantly to anybody who would listen that if we kept winning, it would be just a matter of time before the d3hoops.com poll ranked us the No. 1 NCAA Division III team in the country.
Most people nodded politely, mumbled cliches about not counting chickens before they hatched and changed the subject. Others stared blankly at me and either said, “Would that be a big deal?” or “The only real poll that counts is at the end of the season.”
And to them, I say today, “It is a big deal, and I’m counting right now because we are No. 1!”
It’s true. Your 17-0 Tommies, the only undefeated men’s team among 410 in Division III, is ranked No. 1 by d3hoops.com – the first time a Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference basketball team has been so ranked in the poll’s 10-year history. Check it out at www.d3hoops.com.
I know that coaches don’t care for polls during the season: players can get distracted, the bull's-eyes on their backs gets bigger, and opponents play with extra incentive.
But fans love polls, and for a pretty simple reason: Pride in their team and pride in their school.
They love it when radio DJs and TV anchors and newspaper columnists (maybe even Sid Hartman?) call St. Thomas No. 1. They love it when friends and family members mention, “Hey, did you hear St. Thomas is No. 1?”
I look at it a second way, too: Would you rather be No. 2? Somebody, after all, has to be No. 1, right? As far as I’m concerned, it may as well be St. Thomas.
And today, at least and at last, it is.