SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Cameron McCaffrey was a possible preseason player of the year in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, coming into the season as one of the more explosive scorers in this league.
But he and others didn’t know much about his teammates. Though the incoming freshman class received a lot of attention, you still never know how those young players will make the transition to college basketball.
“People didn’t have high expectations for us because of the young guys, and you never know how they are going to react to playing at the college level,” McCaffrey said. “But any time you get to the NCAA tournament, it’s a good year in my books. It will be interesting to see how we respond.”
Augustana (21-8) takes on Upper Iowa (20-11) in the opening quarterfinal game of the Central Region men’s basketball tournament, starting at noon at Bresnan Arena. The Vikings, seeded third, and Peacocks split during the regular season.
“There’s advantages to playing someone you know and playing a different team,” coach Tom Billeter said. “I’m sure the players would like to face someone new because it’s a new adventure.”
McCaffrey averaged 21.1 points this season, becoming the all-time leading scorer at Augustana. He attempted 428 shots, nearly twice that of his closest teammate, but the scoring load had to fall on him, given the inexperience around him.
“I try not to worry about pressure,” McCaffrey said. “People always tell me I have a lot on my shoulders with the young guys, but those guys do a lot of things I can’t do, down in the paint. I just want to do everything I can to help us win three games because I don’t want my career to end.”
Freshman center Daniel Jansen averaged 11.4 points and 5.9 rebounds. He shoots 51.9 percent from the field, 40.0 percent on 3-pointers, but only 48.4 percent on free throws.