Editor’s note: subsequent to the publication of this column, the Arkansas Tech Golden Suns became unable to compete in the 2021 NCAA Division II Tournament due to COVID-19 protocols.
They say history repeats itself.
The Arkansas Tech University women’s basketball team sure hopes they are right.
The year was 1999. The Golden Suns earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament and were placed on the bracket in a No. 4 seed vs. No. 5 seed game as part of a six-team regional.
That Arkansas Tech team won the regional title and went on to appear in the national championship game to cap the 22nd season of Golden Suns basketball.
Now, another 22 years have passed. The Golden Suns have once again earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament, and they have once again been placed on the bracket in a No. 4 seed vs. No. 5 seed game as part of a six-team regional.
ATU (14-2) will face Cameron University (Okla.) in an opening-round contest at First United Bank Center in Canyon, Texas, at 5 p.m. Friday, March 12. Live coverage for all Golden Suns games in the NCAA Tournament is planned for KCJC 102.3 FM and www.arkansastechsports.com.
If the 2021 Golden Suns go on a run anything like the one their predecessors assembled 22 years ago, it will likely be a result of one of the most potent and efficient offensive attacks in the nation.
Arkansas Tech ranks among the top six teams in NCAA Division II in scoring offense (85.1 points per game) and field goal percentage (.477).
If the Golden Suns maintain their current pace, they will establish a new program record for points per game in a season. The current record of 84.3 points per game was established by the 2015-16 Golden Suns, the most recent Arkansas Tech women’s basketball team to advance beyond the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Cameron Aggies stand between the Golden Suns and a trip to the round of 32 in this year’s edition of March Madness.
Cameron (11-7) edged out regional host West Texas A&M University (15-6) for the final at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament South Central Regional, presumably due to the fact the Aggies were 2-0 against West Texas A&M during the regular season.
The 3-point arc may very well tell the tale on Friday. Cameron averages 28 attempts per game from 3-point range. The Aggies lead the Lone Star Conference in 3-point field goals made per game (9.2) and 3-point field goals attempted (501) this season. They also lead their league and rank among the top 20 teams nationally in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.265).
One other thing…that 1999 Golden Suns team had a ritual of stopping at a pecan tree in a field outside Fort Valley, Ga., for good luck before each game of that regional.
As the 2021 Golden Suns prepare to embark upon their NCAA Tournament journey in Texas, do you know what the official tree of the Lone Star State is? You guessed it. Ladies, please find a pecan tree in Canyon. Or take a bag of pecans with you just to be sure.
Talk to you on the radio.
Tech Tidbits is a column written by Sam Strasner, ATU director of university relations and radio play-by-play voice for ATU football and basketball.