COLUMBIA — Columbia College men's basketball coach Bob Burchard said he wasn't sure what to expect from his team in the first game of the season Wednesday against Concordia Seminary.
When the Preachers jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the first two minutes, the Arena of Southwell Complex became quiet as if fans were wondering if the Cougars, ranked No. 14 in the NAIA, could live up to the expectations. Burchard, however, stayed calm as he watched the team from the bench, occasionally sipping his can of Diet Coke.
"Even though we got a lot of guys coming back, each team is different," Burchard said. "Things change when you put the uniform on and invite people in."
The Cougars didn't take long to excite the fans and get rid of any doubt. Fans filled the arena with cheers as Devin Griffin broke away and dunked the ball to put the Cougars up 18-14. From that point on, Columbia College controlled the game and went on to win 109-54.
The dunk was one of many for Griffin, who jumped several Concordia passes, creating easy scoring opportunities. Griffin finished the game with 28 points on just 17 shots.
"Whoever has the ball, I watch his body position and where his eyes are looking," Griffin said, "So if I read his eyes, then I know where to jump the passing lane."
Griffin, a 6-foot-1 sophomore, helped the Cougars raise the tempo in the second half. Columbia College played with a smaller, quicker lineup after using a larger lineup to start the game. Burchard said the Cougars are still trying to figure out their rotation, but he liked the high tempo of the small lineup.
"I spent a lot of the second half just watching them, trying to think about things," Burchard said. "I'm learning about them."
The Cougars will play Lyon College at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Arena of Southwell Complex.