Campbell Camels take on familiar foe Winthrop in Big South Conference finals

Sports

BUIES CREEK, N.C. (WNCN) — The Campbell Camels continue their season Sunday at noon when they take on Winthrop in Rock Hill.

This game is for all the marbles in the Big South Conference with the cherry on top coming in the form of an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. 

“Obviously this is an unbelievable opportunity for our team program and university,” said Camels head coach Kevin McGeehan. “You know we’re playing good basketball right now and I think our guys are confident together and we are going to go battle and try to win this ball game.” 

Just the chance to be in this position is a huge accomplishment for the Camels. They were expected to finish 10 in the conference in preseason polls.

That ranking was a slap in the face and a bit of news most would crumble up and drop in the nearest trash can. But, not McGeehan. He not only hasn’t let it go but, as a reminder, he keeps a printout of that preseason prediction on the coffee table in his office. 

“It’s inspired us to work hard and stay committed to each other and the process,” said McGeehan. “It’s an everyday deal we’re going to come out and we’re going to prepare really well.” 

The slight, combined with the hard work, molded this team into a winner that can get it done in a multitude of ways. Most squads have a couple of guys you can game plan for. Others have players the offense will run through because of their skill or in some cases their ego.

You won’t find that at Buies Creek. What you will find is a group of guys doing whatever is asked of them to get the win that night no matter what their role might be.  

“I think that’s the beauty of this team,” McGeehan. “Everybody is pulling for each other and it doesn’t matter who is doing it on a given night, the excitement in the locker room the other day was for our accomplishment.” 

Their opponent Sunday is a familiar one. The Camels faced the Winthrop Eagles twice on back-to-back days at the end of December.

The Camels fell short in game one by a single point. The next night the Eagles handed them an 18-point loss. That was more than two months ago, however, there’s always something you can glean from watching old tape. 

“Every time you play a team you learn from what you did well, maybe what you didn’t execute well, what they’re doing, what they’re attempting,” said McGeehan. “I just re-watched both games again this morning and we actually played all right in the second game (but) the final result wasn’t exactly indicative.” 

It’s been a long and tough slog to get to this point. The Camels started the season playing nine of their first 11 games on the road. Then came a stretch of 10 games in 22 days.

Add in the COVID-19 issues and it’s been a grind. No one would fault the Camels if they started to feel some pressure once they realized the magnitude of this game. But, not this bunch. 

“I’d say the pressure lies squarely on the other guy’s shoulders. We are playing good basketball and our guys are committed, they are focused we use the term locked in,” said McGeehan. “I don’t think there’s anybody in our group that doesn’t think that we’re going down there to win.” 

Tip off between Campbell and Winthrop is Sunday at noon in Rock Hill, South Carolina. 

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