Panthers seek to end NCAA tournament drought - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Panthers seek to end NCAA tournament drought

Posted: Updated:
CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -  In 3 years at UNI, Seth Tuttle has poured in 1,213 total points and is 5th all-time on the Panther career field goal percentage list, but there's one thing he hasn't done --

"A couple years ago, when I decided to come here, one of the things that my father and I wrote on a piece of paper is I want to play in the NCAA tournament,” said the Panther senior, “and having 3 years go by, it hasn't happened yet. I have one more chance."

This year appears to be his best chance yet. The Panthers return 7 players with starting experience. Add in transfer Paul Jesperson, who started 33 games as a sophomore at Virginia, and the number's now 8. All of them will be chasing playing time.

"Practices are going to be extremely competitive because of that, because guys are going to be fighting for minutes,” said Jesperson, “That's going to make us a better team and harder to beat."

Deon Mitchell returns to run the show at point guard. He's one of 5 seniors coming back with significant playing time.

"Having a lot of experience on a team is always good. We know what to expect, and we know what's going to happen,” said Mitchell, “So I feel like we're pretty much prepared to get done what we need to get done. We've just got to keep working hard."

Time will tell if that pays off. The Panthers haven't won a Missouri Valley Tournament game since 2010, and this group of seniors is in danger of becoming the first class in 11 years never to reach the NCAA's, a point brought up by Coach Ben Jacobson in a recent team meeting.

"He asked for a raise of hands as to who's played in the NCAA tournament,” said Tuttle, “We looked around the room and not one of us could raise our hands. So, it's something that's motivating us, and it's something we're going to push forward to and hope we can get it to happen this year."
Powered by Frankly