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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)
COACH AND PROGRAM
Coach Mike Adras has finally solidified himself at Northern Arizona. Yes, he's entering year eight at the school, but an 11-win season just two years ago had some thinking the program was in trouble. Adras had taken over for highly successful coach Ben Howland, now turning the volume back up at UCLA, so there was some institutional pressure.
Adras quieted the doubters last season with 21 wins and the regular season Big Sky championship. It was all good for the Lumberjacks -- except the way it ended. Playing host to the Big Sky Tournament, NAU won its tournament opener against Sacramento State. Then with a national ESPN TV audience watching, and a boisterous home crowd behind them in the Walkup Skydome, the Lumberjacks laid an egg, a big one, losing 73-60 to Montana in the title game.
The loss knocked the 'Jacks out of the NCAA Tournament and into the NIT.
With a chance at redemption, the Lumberjacks received a home berth in the first round of the NIT. Again, they stumbled, losing 58-53 to Delaware State. It was an odd way to end the season -- Northern Arizona was 13-1 at home heading into those final two games.
Nevertheless, it was still a banner year for the Lumberjacks and Adras. The Big Sky took notice, selecting Adras its coach of the year. And the university followed suit by extending his contract for three more seasons.