For the first time in school history, the Barry men’s basketball team has made the Division II NCAA tournament in consecutive years.
The Bucs (24-5), ranked 14th in the nation in Division II, are one of 64 teams in the field and will open play in Lakeland on Saturday against Union (20-10).
Barry is seeded second in the South Regional, and Union is seventh. If the seedings hold, Barry will play host Florida Southern (30-1) on Tuesday for the right to go to the national quarterfinals March 25 in Evansville, Indiana.
Florida Southern is ranked No. 1 in the nation and beat Barry two out of three times. But Barry does own the distinction of being the only team in the nation to beat Florida Southern.
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“We’re unselfish,” Barry coach Butch Estes said when asked to describe his team’s identity. “We share the ball and play together.”
The Bucs, who were 11-3 away from home this season, are also known for their shooting skills. They have five players who each have at least 30 three-pointers made
Three Barry players made more than 40 percent on three-pointers — Yunio Barrueta, Juan Ferrales and Arie Williams.
Barrueta made first-team All-Sunshine State Conference, point guard Deric Hill made the second team and shooting guard Anders Haas was on the All-Newcomer team.
That’s a lot of perimeter firepower, the kind that — if they get hot — could help Barry make a long postseason run.
Of course, in its 31-year history, Barry has never made “a run,” going just 1-4 in NCAA tournament play.
Women’s tennis coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews raves about Sinead Lohan, calling her “probably the toughest freshman” she has ever had on her roster.
“Mentally, she has it together,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “On changeovers during a match, her temperament is not that much different than if you were having a sandwich with her. That’s how confident she is.
“As a tennis player, she is relentless. However you play her, the balls come back in. It’s tough to find her weakness. She has gotten stronger and fitter since she has been at Miami.
“She’s a special kid. I truly believe she will develop into a star.”
The Panthers have a player on their roster that the Marlins were very interested in signing. He’s Canadian first baseman Mitchell Robinson, a 6-2, 220-pound freshman from the Vancouver area.
Robinson was drafted by the Marlins in the 22nd round, but he did not sign. Apparently, the Marlins told him they would pick him in the seventh round — this according to The Vancouver Sun.
Robinson, who played catcher and third base in high school, is off to a slow start at FIU, hitting .238 with no homers and three RBI through his first 12 games, all starts.