NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The Stephen F. Austin men's basketball team is coming off yet another historic season as they're riding into the Southland Conference Tournament with an undefeated 18-0 record. This year's championship makes for the Lumberjack's fourth consecutive SLC title, a first-ever milestone for the conference.
Now with a must-win tournament ahead, their quest of chasing perfection continues.
Currently on a nation-leading 18-game win streak, SFA has won the Southland Conference crown in undefeated fashion two out of the last three years. It's so rare going undefeated in conference not once but twice, that Underwood is one of four to have ever done it.
"Bob Knight at Indiana, John Chaney at Temple, and Jerry Tarkanian and now us. That's hard to do," said head coach Brad Underwood. "We were the only team out of the 351 Division I teams in America, and we were the only team in 31 or 32 conferences to be able to do that. That speaks about the family, brotherhood in the locker room, it speaks about the everyday approach that these young men have and tremendous chemistry."
"We talked about it all year, chasing perfection. 17-1 isn't perfection and 18-0 is," said senior Thomas Walkup.
It's that competitive spirit that carried SFA through this year because wins didn't come easy at first.
With a tough road game schedule the Lumberjacks lost almost half of their pre-conference games.
"The one thing we did is we never doubted ourselves. We played really good basketball. The outcome wasn't what we wanted, but we played well," said Underwood.
"We always knew we were going to be really good, we just hadn't really put it together early on," said Walkup. "I think that's something Coach Underwood is so good at is that as the year goes on, his teams get better. I think that we've done that. We've made great strides."
SFA has beaten SLC opponents in record breaking numbers and has the depth, size and athleticism that Underwood characterizes as his best Lumberjack team yet.
"The amount of fire power we have here this year is pretty incredible. With how the defense is stepping up and how capable our offense is at going off at any night makes us a dangerous team," said Walkup.
"I think this team has achieved everything I thought it could do at this point, but we haven't accomplished everything that we've set out to do yet," said Underwood.
It was announced on Monday that the Southland Conference named Walkup the Player of the Year. Walkup has won the title in back-to-back fashion.
Underwood has made conference history by winning the Coach of the Year honor for three consecutive years.