CORPUS CHRISTI, TX — The NCAA DI men's college basketball season is less than a month away from tipoff and the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders have high expectations after advancing to the March Madness tournament.
"Try to make more history," said Stephen Giwa, Islanders junior center. "You just come in here everyday. Like we did that."
Texas A&M Corpus Christi has their eyes set on another deep playoff run after hanging their NCAA DI Tournament appearance banner in their practice facility in August.
"That's just motivation honestly," said Terrion Murdix, Islanders senior point guard. "That's more motivation to get back to the tournament."
Last season TAMU-CC ended the season with a (23-12) record after falling short in the First Four of the NCAA DI Tournament to No. 16 Texas Southern 76-67.
"It's also a good reminder that we didn't win when we got to the NCAA tournament," said Steve Lutz, Islanders men's basketball head coach. "That has to be a goal moving forward."
The Islanders are one of the few NCAA DI men's basketball programs in the country returning all five starters.
"Pretty exciting. We have a lot of returners, so a lot of familiar faces," said Giwa. "Last year it was all new, but this year we've been together so we all know what we can do. Just building on our chemistry."
Last season marked the second time in program history (2007, 2022) that the Islanders advanced to the tournament.
"We were good at obviously forcing turnovers and we were fairly good in transition and they've stuck with that and they've kept that going," said Lutz.
The Islanders' defense forced the eighth most turnovers in the country last season, 578. Their athleticism balanced for their lack of height, but this year TAMU-CC's roster got taller.
"Those that like post men I think we've got a few guys that can score down there on the block," said Lutz. "We added a new player this year who is 7'4", 285 pounds (Connor Kern) and you don't see those guys everyday. Then we've got two really quick guards that are fast and aggressive."
The Islanders are looking to ride the postseason wave farther this season, and it starts with their experienced returners.
"Don't sleep on us. We can do everything. Offense, defense, anything," said Murdix. "We're diving for the loose balls. We're doing all of the extra stuff."
The Islanders' schedule includes 15 home games and a few marquee road matchups at Mississippi State (Season Opener, Nov. 7 at 6:30 p.m.), Arizona, Oklahoma State and a three-game tournament at UTEP. TAMU-CC will award their 2021-22 Southland Conference Championship team with their rings during their first game at the American Bank Center which is set for Monday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. against Trinity. Their home opener at the Dugan Wellness Center tips off on Friday, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. against UTSA.