DAVIS (CBS13) – The big boys may be home early from the “Big Dance,” but the UC Davis men’s basketball team still got a big welcome from a roaring crowd as they returned home Saturday afternoon.
The kings of the court got off the team bus greeted by more March Madness as a pumped-up crowd of cheering fans, alumni, and students joined the marching band in celebrating the team’s historic season.
They made school history by becoming the first UC Davis men’s basketball team to play in the NCAA tournament.
“It was the thing we set out to do. Especially as a senior, since we first got here, it was to be the first team to be here, to compete in the NCAA tournament and the first team to win it. It’s everything that we imaged,” said point guard Darius Graham, who jumped in to dance with fans and the band as he got off the team bus.
“The hard work that we put in this season. The history that we made for this team, this community, this city in general. It’s not the outcome we wanted, but we are very proud to be Aggies,” said forward J.T. Adenrele, who is from Roseville.
Davis got crushed in round one in their game against top seed Kansas on Friday, losing 100 to 62. But for the fans, this is still a winning season.
“I grew up watching the NCAA on TV all the time and to see my school’s team get there, it’s just insane! And to play against Kansas, the #1 team in the country!” said Daniel Erenstein, a UC Davis student.
“They played with heart, always came back. Always fighting throughout the season. That’s what I loved about them,” said Louie Laura, another Davis student.
For many who came out, this was about more than just basketball. These young men are no longer just faces in the crowd, but a team that now represents an entire campus and community.
“Anytime you are a first, you leave an unbelievable legacy. Especially these five seniors, who were so instrumental in getting us to this point. They have left a tremendous legacy, not only with the basketball program but with this university,” said Aggies Coach Jim Lee.
Lee says they are already getting ready for next season. He says an appearance in the NCAA tournament gives the team a huge amount of national exposure, which he hopes will help in recruiting new talent.