SPRING ARBOR, Mich. – On Saturday, Jan. 14, Spring Arbor University Athletics will welcome back the 1996-97 men's basketball team on the 20th anniversary of its historic season that culminated with an appearance in the quarterfinals of the NAIA national tournament.
Spring Arbor enjoyed a record-setting season that year under head coach Doug Noll. The Cougars were co-regular season Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) champions and posted a 29-7 record – the most wins in a single-season in program history. The team, which started the campaign unranked in the national poll, closed the season at No. 4 in the Top 25, which was its highest ranking up until that point.
One of the team's biggest strengths was its leadership from the upperclassmen, including juniors Jason Elder and Jeremy Patterson, and senior Jason Corstange. Elder, a two-time NAIA All-American First Team selection – the only First Team honoree in program history – is one of the top scorers to ever wear a Cougar uniform. He currently ranks third on the program's all-time scoring list with 2,206 career points. Patterson is not only a member of the team's 1,000 Point Club, amassing nearly 1,500 career points, but also one of the program's best rebounders ranking ninth all-time with 851 boards. Corstange enjoyed a career-year as a senior earning Honorable Mention All-American honors and dishing out 282 assists – a mark that still stands as the single-season record.
Following the outstanding regular season, Spring Arbor qualified for the NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Championship for the second time in three years. The Cougars knocked off St. Thomas (Fla.) 71-70 in the first round, and then got one of the top single-game scoring performances in tournament history from Elder – dropping 38 points – to help bring down No. 11 ranked Lewis & Clark (Ore.) 82-79. The magical season would come to a close in the quarterfinals, however, as the team fell to the eventual national champion, Bethel College (Ind.), 94-83.
Part of the reunion event will be the recognition of the team at halftime of the men's basketball game. The Cougars play host to Crossroads League rival Grace College with the opening tip set for 3 p.m.
1996-97 SPRING ARBOR TEAM ROSTER
|Name||Hometown / High School|
|Derek Anspaugh||Jackson, Mich. / Northwest|
|Brian Babbitt||Grant, Mich. / Grant|
|Shawn Brown||Adrian, Mich. / Adrian|
|Jason Corstange||Richland, Mich. / Gull Lake|
|Jason Elder||Quincy, Mich. / Jonesville|
|Jason Feig||Fowlerville, Mich. / Fowlerville|
|Andy Gibbs||Jackson, Mich. / Northwest|
|Bryan Gordon||Hillsdale, Mich. / Hillsdale|
|Jeremy Jent||Melvindale, Mich. / Melvindale|
|Matt Kurtz||Hillsdale, Mich. / Hillsdale|
|John Moffitt||Litchfield, Mich. / Litchfield|
|Jeremy Patterson||Jackson, Mich. / Jackson|
|Matt Ray||Craig, Colo. / Moffatt County|
|Dave Tebo||Jerome, Mich. / Addison|
|Head Coach: Doug Noll|
|Assistants: Scott Ricks, Brian Snyder|