As they often say about life, all good things must eventually come to an end.
That’s the case when looking back at the 2017-18 Nicholls State University men’s basketball season.
The Colonels’ season ended with a 78-66 loss to Stephen F. Austin in the semifinals of the Southland Conference Tournament on March 9 in Katy, Texas.
It’s unfortunate that the Southland Conference only gets one automatic berth in the NCAA tournament, which goes to the winner of the annual conference tournament. Stephen F. Austin will represent the Southland Conference in this year’s NCAA tournament.
But I still felt that Nicholls had the best team overall in the Southland Conference this season. It would've been great to see them experience March Madness.
If senior Tevon Saddler doesn’t injure his knee late in the regular season, I believe the Colonels would’ve won the conference tournament and would be preparing for the NCAA tournament right now.
But it just wasn’t meant to be this year.
It was still the most successful season for the Nicholls since the 1998 season when it won the Southland Conference title and advanced to the NCAA tournament.
I know it was tough for Colonels fans to watch the team’s season end, but all of the Nicholls players, coaches and fans should be proud of everything they accomplished this season.
The Colonels ended the season with 21-11 overall record and shared the Southland Conference’s regular-season title with Southeastern Louisiana.
That’s not bad for a Nicholls team that was predicted to finish ninth overall in the Southland Conference preseason polls before the season.
In his second year as head coach, Richie Riley and his coaching staff has awakened a sleeping giant in terms of basketball in the Southland Conference.
The Colonels were once considered the laughing stock of the Southland Conference. In just two years, Riley has quickly changed that mindset and transformed the Colonels into contenders.
Riley and his staff have breathed new life into not only the program but the community.
For the first time in years, area fans flocked to Stopher Gym in large numbers to watch the exciting brand of play that Riley has brought to the Colonels.
And they weren’t disappointed.
The Colonels played with high energy every night. It was fun watching guys like Saddler, seniors Roddy Peters, Jahvaughn Powell, Lafayette Ruttledge and Kimani Jackson along with freshman Kevin Johnson and Ryghe Lyons rock Stopher Gym with their unselfish and intense style of play.
Although the season is over, this year’s Colonels team created memories that will last a lifetime.
Nicholls will lose a large and special eight-member senior class this year, but all of those guys will be able to leave with their heads held high. They will always be remembered as the group that created the foundation for future success in the program.
As for next year, I have no doubt that the Colonels will continue to compete in the conference.
As long as Riley is in Thibodaux, he will find talented young athletes to bring into the Nicholls program. With young players like Johnson and Lyons returning, I look forward to seeing the Colonels compete next season.
I know they say all good things come to an end, which is true as far as this season is concerned.
But when I think about the future of the Nicholls men’s basketball team, I believe that the good times are just getting started.
Staff writer Chris Singleton can be reached at 857-2213 or 448-1200 ext. 2213 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @courierchris.