NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Most of the fans and five Stephen F. Austin State University Lumberjack seniors could be saying, "Been there done that," about a trip to the NCAA Tournament. But they don't. They just remain cool.
"We're not star-struck or nervous about the big stage or the big lights," said Trey Pinkney, an SFA Lumberjack senior. "It's us going in there to try to get a win."
Excitement for Christmas comes once a year. So the big tourney deserves the same.
"Axe 'em Jacks," said a group of children.
Unlike three years ago, the older players are more relaxed. They casually lingered thru the crowd, picking out numerous familiar faces. They let little kids look up to them in the literal sense.
"He's seven foot," said one child Lumberjack fan.
They're also mentors. Bottom line, there's no fear of the spotlight here, wrote a sports reporter.
"I think I feel more comfortable with it," said Thomas Walkup, an SFA senior. "A little less nervous. A little less pressure, so I think being there before is going to help us a lot."
Lumberjack fan Angela Key said the game is creating tension in her family.
"We are a house divided," Key said. "My son-in-law is a West Virginia grad."
When the news was shared with SFA Coach Brad Underwood slapped his hand in disapproval.
Underwood is in the moment, while commentators speculate about the winning coach's future. Irritating, you think?
"I don't worry about what other people say. I really don't," Underwood said. There's a group of 15 guys in there that deserve every bit of my attention. That's all they got. I can't control what other people say, so I don't even worry about it."
Instead he, the players and yes, the fans take it all in. Everyone goes to great lengths to make the Lumberjacks feel appreciated for all they do.