Elon University’s men’s basketball team entered last season’s Colonial Athletic Association Tournament as the number eight seed. Needing four wins in four days to qualify for its first ever NCAA Tournament, the team made a surprise run to the championship game.

Though the Phoenix lost to the Drexel University Dragons, falling one game short of reaching March Madness, it was still a historic step forward for the program. Elon’s men’s basketball team was voted “Best Men’s Varsity Sport” by the campus community. 

Head Coach Mike Schrage said there are pictures in the team’s locker room from the CAA Tournament run to remind players of the team’s main goal for the 2021-22 season.

“We’re not going to talk a lot about last year, but we’re going to remember it,” Schrage said. “It’s always in the back of our mind to make that final step and take Elon to its first NCAA Tournament.”

Elon started the 2020-2021 season 3-8, but the team won seven of its final eight games to finish with a winning record (10-9) for the first time since the 2016-2017 campaign. 

Junior guard Hunter McIntosh said the program is on the rise and that this year’s team has a strong chance of taking the next step this season.

“When Coach Schrage got here, we knew that we had a chance to do something special,” McIntosh said. “The first two years, we’ve made progress in the right direction to be able to do something special at Elon and going to the [NCAA] Tournament is something that’s always on our minds.” 

Junior guard Hunter Woods said the Phoenix’s experience in big games will pay dividends for the team in the postseason. 

“We’re battle tested and we know what it takes to get where we want to be,” Woods said. “We’ve got to keep building off the groundwork that has been laid.”