CCU team departs for NCAA tourney in Omaha

CCU team departs for NCAA tourney in Omaha

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - The community is rallying behind its college basketball team as the players head to Omaha for their second NCAA tournament in a row.

"Whether you're from Little River to Georgetown to Conway, Aynor, whatever, we are the community's basketball team and we're proud to represent that," Head Coach Cliff Ellis said.

About 50 people held signs and cheered for the players as they boarded the bus to the airport.

The 16-seed basketball team practiced right until the departure Wednesday at 1 p.m., ensuring the players are fully prepared for Friday's game against number one seed Wisconsin.

Coach Ellis said because it's the team's second NCAA tournament in a row, it's now a target for other teams compared to last year when CCU surprised everyone by making it to the tournament.

He said March Madness is one of the best possible platforms to spread the school's name in the athletic world.

"For two weeks, Coastal Carolina's been on the forefront nationally," he said. "Every 30 minutes you're on national television whether it's a little by-line or something and you can't buy that."

Marcus Freeman said he chose to play for CCU this year because of the team's national attention last year.

"Second time talking to Coach Ellis was right before the Virginia game, so that put the icing on the cake," Freeman said.

The basketball team saw an average attendance increase of 20 people per game this season compared to 2014.

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