One final game for a national title

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. --- When Augusta State athletic director Clint Bryant hired Darren "Dip" Metress as head coach of the men's basketball team four years ago, he requested one thing.

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Augusta State head coach Dip Metress talks about some of the challenges his team will face against Winona State in today's Division II national championship game. The Warriors have won 31 games in a row and are 95-5 in their past 100 games.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Augusta State head coach Dip Metress talks about some of the challenges his team will face against Winona State in today's Division II national championship game. The Warriors have won 31 games in a row and are 95-5 in their past 100 games.

"I told him I wanted a basketball program where we have certain expectations for our players and for our program," Bryant said. "I think he's done that."

Metress, whose parents called him "Dippler the Traveler" six months after he was born in the Panama Canal Zone, will try to navigate his 10th-ranked Jaguars into uncharted territory today.

Augusta State will be bidding for its first Division II national championship when it faces No. 3 Winona State at 2:30 p.m., today at the MassMutual Center. The game will be televised live on CBS.

The Warriors (37-1) are making their third consecutive title game appearance. Winona State won the 2006 national championship and appeared on its way to repeating last year until Barton College overcame a seven-point deficit in the final 45 seconds to shock the Warriors.

"I think it did serve as motivation in the off-season for our players," Winona State coach Mike Leaf said.

Augusta State will have its own motivation playing as an underdog.

The Jaguars, the lone remaining collegiate team in Georgia in postseason play, will be designated as the home team and will wear white jerseys.

Augusta State will face a Winona State squad that entered the Elite Eight with a 95-5 record in their past 100 games before knocking off the nation's top two teams in Grand Valley State and Bentley.

"We've lost more games in one month than they've lost in three years," said Metress, whose team enters today with a 27-6 record. "I think everybody expected them to be here. Not many people expected us to be here.

"We're the JV team," he joked. "They're the varsity team."

The Warriors have won 31 games in a row after losing by one to Division III school St. Thomas on Nov. 24.

Winona State features the two-time reigning Division II Player of the Year in senior forward John Smith, who averages 17.5 points and 8.5 rebounds with 106 blocks.

Senior guard Jonte Flowers, an All-American, leads the team with a 17.6 scoring average on 51 percent field-goal shooting.

"You do have to stay with Winona State early," St. Thomas coach Steve Fritz said. "You can't let them jump out to a 10-, 15-point lead."

Augusta State will counter at center with 6-foot-11, 304-pound junior Garret Siler. In the past two contests, Siler's scored 48 points on 19-for-27 shooting.

"He's so strong. He's agile," Leaf said. "He can really get himself down in that low block. So that's going to be a difficult matchup for us."

Metress said two-time All-American senior forward Tyrekus "A.J." Bowman, who was 14-for-30 from the field with 40 points the past two games, is in line for a big game.

Also, Metress said he believes guard Ben Madgen will get back on track after shooting 5-for-21 the past two contests.

"He'll bounce back," Metress said.

"I hope he takes a lot of shots off two feet tomorrow, because he took a lot off one foot yesterday."

Regardless of today's result, Bryant said the Jaguars have left a lasting impression on the community.

"Augusta has had some issues sometimes with what divides us, politically -- this commission, that authority. Everybody talks about what separates us," Bryant said.

"This is something in our community no matter where you are, who you are, what color you are, it just joins us all together for a common cause."

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or chris.gay@augustachronicle.com.

MEET THE JAGS


A celebration picnic for ASU will be held Sunday at Forest Hills Golf Club. The picnic will begin at noon after the team lands at Augusta's Bush Field. The cost is $7.50 per person.


ONLINE


- TO READ Chris Gay's blog from today's championship game, go to augustachronicle.com/blogs">style="bold">augustachronicle.com/blogs .

- LIVE STATISTICS and a video stream of the entire tournament is available at www.aug.edu/athletics">style="bold">www.aug.edu/athletics.

WHEN & WHERE: 2:30 p.m. at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass.

HOW TO WATCH: Game to be televised nationally on CBS (WRDW-Ch.12)

Comments (3) Add comment
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TruthJusticeFaithHope
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TruthJusticeFaithHope 03/29/08 - 06:10 am
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Good luck guys... Godspeed.

Good luck guys... Godspeed.

STAK
27
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STAK 03/29/08 - 07:38 am
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GO JAGS!...........Win or

GO JAGS!...........Win or lose, we're bursting with pride...........

bill63
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bill63 03/29/08 - 10:37 am
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Everybody to your TVs! GO

Everybody to your TVs! GO JAGS!!!!

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