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CHAMPIONSHIP IN PHOTOS
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Oh, the places we've gone
Reprinted from April, 2006 "news from Hope College"
It is not unusual for the coach of an athletic team to sit down with the team prior to the start of a season and outline goals for the upcoming year.
It could have been viewed as unusual when Hope College women's basketball coach Brian Morehouse sat his team down last November just before the start of the season and read them the book Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss.
You can now call it prophetic.
Today is your day.
The 2005-06 season was quite the journey for the Flying Dutch, who today reign as the NCAA Division III national champions.
The journey of 34 games took them through an undefeated conference season, a perfect home floor record at the new DeVos Fieldhouse and to three different states, where they won six NCAA tournament games.
Ironically, the journey ended in Springfield, Mass., birthplace of author Theodor Seuss Geisel, for the national semi-final and championship games.
Springfield, Mass., is also the birthplace of basketball. Dr. James Naismith wrote the original rules of the game in Springfield in 1891.
The Flying Dutch gave Dr. Naismith's game a good name with their team approach to achieving the ultimate prize, the second women's basketball national championship in school history.
You're on your own.
Along the trail, the Flying Dutch defeated all four top-seeded tournament teams in places like Columbus, Ohio, Greencastle, Ind., and Springfield.
Hope's fan base was nearly as incredible as the team as more than 500 of the orange-clad faithful journeyed the nearly 900 miles from Michigan to Massachusetts. Alumni and friends from several Northeast states also descended on Springfield for championship weekend.
In 1990 when the Flying Dutch were national champions, they accomplished the feat after playing all their tournament games at home. This year, while having a new fieldhouse where the team attracted record numbers throughout the regular season, the Flying Dutch became "road warriors."
It made no difference.
Ohio opponents Denison and Capital fell in the first (71-52) and second (75-56) rounds. Perennial power Washington, Mo., provided the toughest competition of the tournament, succumbing to the Dutch 92-89. The team was able to overcome a hostile home environment in defeating DePauw, Ind., 76-60.
Hope's Final Four competition was as formidable as it gets. Scranton, Pa., and Southern Maine together combined for 41 NCAA tournament appearances and each had been to the finals the previous year.
No matter to the Dutch.
Oh, the places you'll go!
In the semis against Scranton, the Flying Dutch led at halftime 27-26, opened the lead to 54-41 with eight minutes remaining and then withstood a furious rally before winning 59-56.
In the championship game the Flying Dutch turned a close game into a double-digit advantage on Bria Ebels's three-pointer and a breakaway lay-up off a steal by Julie Henderson. Hope went on to win 69-56.
Throughout the tournament the key plays came from Bria Ebels, who had fans in the gym and sportswriters on press row buzzing.
You'll be on your way up!
"The Flying Dutch were led by senior Bria Ebels, who alone would be worth the price of admission. Maybe as fast a player who has ever set foot on the Blake Arena court, Ebels amazed the crowd with her roadrunner like defense while sparking the offense...," wrote Dick Baker of the Springfield Union News and Republican.
Bria Ebels was voted the tournament's most outstanding player, while Henderson joined her on the all-tournament team.
Morehouse, who was named the Division III national coach of the year by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association of America, stresses team play. It is not unusual for him to have sent 10 players into a game early in the first half.
The technique didn't go unnoticed by Hope's opponents. "There was no end to them," said a Southern Maine player. "And it seemed like they got bigger every time they came in the game with a new player."
The Hope team approach to the game has a history. In 1990, the national champion Flying Dutch had no All-Americans and like this year's team defeated several higher-ranked opponents. This year it appeared the Flying Dutch would again have no All-Americans. The national semi-final games against Scranton changed all that. The editors of the website d3hoops.com huddled well into the night and concluded that Bria Ebels would be an All-American even though she had not been named to their all-region first team.
This year's national tournament celebrated 25 years of NCAA-sponsored championships for women. In winning the championship, Hope became only the fifth of 409 Division III institutions to take home the top prize more than once.
The national championship culminated an amazing four-year run by the Flying Dutch, who posted a 110-10 record. The seniors who contributed to that feat were Bria Ebels of Holland, Mich., Linda Ebels of Falmouth, Mich., Jennie Intveld of Carson City, Mich., Megan Noll of Lake Orion, Mich., and Joanne Stewart of Big Rapids, Mich.
When the Flying Dutch returned to Holland the day after winning the national championship they were welcomed by hundreds of fans, led by Mayor Albert McGeehan '66, at the Tulip City airport and given a police and fire department escort back to campus. A campus-community celebration was being planned for mid-April.
And will you succeed?
Thanks Dr. Seuss!