UIW men’s basketball coach Carson Cunningham. –Photo by Joe Alexander.
The University of the Incarnate Word announced Tuesday that it will upgrade the Alice P. McDermott Convocation Center with the installation of a new floor, thanks to a partnership with CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital System.
To honor the generosity of the donor, the basketball/volleyball court will carry the organization’s namesake (CHRISTUS Court), with branding on the surface, according to a news release from the UIW athletics department.
The project will include installation of a 12,000 square-foot floor with better grade maple and will include a new subfloor system. The new court will also have an enhanced design for a more aesthetically pleasing look.
Installation is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2019, according to the release.
UIW men’s basketball coach Carson Cunningham called it a “fantastic” development for the school’s student-athletes.
“For a student-athlete’s body, the benefits of a state-of-the-art floor, one with excellent resilience, cushioning and durability, are plentiful and long lasting,” Cunningham said.
The cost of the project wasn’t made public due to a confidentiality agreement between the private entities, a spokesman said. But the release said it was the fourth-largest donation in UIW athletics history.
UIW athletics teams compete in NCAA Division I as a member of the Southland Conference.
The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee selected Houston for 2023, Phoenix (2024), San Antonio (2025) and Indianapolis (2026).
According to ncaa.com, the announcement capped a year-long process that included site visits to each of seven finalist cities and in-person presentations during the committee’s annual summer meeting, which took place last week in Boston.
The other finalists were Detroit, Los Angeles and North Texas.
Final Four sites
2019 — Minneapolis
2020 — Atlanta
2021 — Indianapolis
2022 — New Orleans
2023 — Houston
2024 — Phoenix/Glendale
2025 — San Antonio
2026 — Indianapolis
“We’re so excited that the Final Four is returning to San Antonio. I’d like to thank the NCAA for selecting our great city as the location for the 2025 Final Four and I also want to congratulate everyone who worked so hard behind the scenes on the bid and presentation. Earlier this year, the San Antonio Local Organizing Committee, which includes UTSA, put in an incredible amount of hard work to host one of the best Final Fours ever held. We look forward to making the 2025 event even better.”
In April, San Antonio hosted a Final Four consisting of the University of Michigan, Loyola (Chicago), Villanova and Kansas.
A crowd of 68,257 watched in the semifinals as Michigan defeated Loyola 69-57 and Villanova downed Kansas, 95-79. Another 67,831 turned out for Villanova’s 79-62 victory over Michigan in the finals.
UIW steps up
The announcement proved to be a big moment for the University of the Incarnate Word, whose athletics program has stepped up in recent years from NCAA Division II to Division I.
After a four-year transition, UIW of the Southland Conference became fully eligible for the Division I men’s basketball tournament for the first time in 2017-18. When the news surfaced, the Cardinals tweeted it out to their supporters.
UIW center Konstantin Kulikov, with hands up, gets position under the basket to block a shot in the first half against the New Orleans Privateers.
Fans at the University of the Incarnate Word saw flashes of promising play from the home team Saturday afternoon.
The slumping Cardinals erased an eight-point deficit in the first half and made it a two-point game at intermission.
In the second half, a rally sparked by the presence of 7-foot center Konstantin Kulikov allowed UIW to come from six down to take a one-point lead on the New Orleans Privateers.
But in the end, the defending Southland Conference champions had too much athleticism and showed too much poise, winning 68-58 to hand the Cardinals their 11th straight loss.
“We just don’t have enough firepower, offensively,” UIW coach Ken Burmeister said.
“We go into lulls. I think in the first half we went eight straight times (scoreless).
“In the second half, we go seven straight times, (and) we didn’t get any baskets,” he said. “You got to get baskets. You know, the kids fought on defense. Rebounding was OK. New Orleans is a good team.
“You know, they got good shooters. Good athleticism. So, we just got to get that first one and get going.”
While UIW had Kulikov to defend and rebound in the paint, New Orleans (11-10, 8-2 in the SLC) unleashed significant talent across the front line and even in some of their big men off the bench.
In fact, reserve forward Macur Puou provided the difference for the Privateers against the Cardinals (5-14, 0-9) as he hit 8 of 9 shots from the field for 18 points.
Starting forward Travin Thibodeaux scored 14 and guard Troy Green nine.
Guard Cody Graham scored 11 and Sam Burmeister 10 for the Cardinals, who have been winless since Dec. 16.
But in Kulikov, from Oryol, Russia, UIW can see a glimmer of hope for the future.
He enjoyed one of his better games with six points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots in 29 minutes.
When Kulikov was on the floor, it changed the dynamic of the action. New Orleans had trouble getting to the basket.
Regardless, the junior transfer from San Jacinto College expressed some frustration at the lack of consistency.
“Most of the games we’ve had this type of thing, where we just play for 30 or 35 minutes and the last five minutes, we just let a team take the lead,” he said. “We just need to work on that in practices. I think it will be fine.”
Kulikov’s first few months at UIW have been chaotic.
The junior transfer from San Jacinto started practice, only to be told just before the start of the season that his eligibility was under review at the NCAA office.
He wasn’t cleared to play until a Dec. 22 game at Florida.
“I feel much better now,” he said. “Because when I came back after my eligibility status, I felt out of shape. Now I feel like I’m back in shape and I can play with these guys.”
A second-half, three-pointer by Shawn Johnson sparked cheers from the crowd and a demonstration from Speedo-clad members of the UIW swim team.
Visiting Lamar rolled to a 90-69 victory Wednesday night at Incarnate Word, but it couldn’t stop this play as forward Charles Brown III dishes to teammate Simi Socks for the basket.
Incarnate Word point guard Jalin Hart said Wednesday night that he is academically ineligible to play basketball for the remainder of the season after falling short of the required credit hours in the classroom last fall.
Incarnate Word coach Ken Burmeister (left) and point guard Jalin Hart pose together after a practice in November.
UIW coach Ken Burmeister said he couldn’t comment on why Hart has not played in the last four games, noting, “You’ll have to talk to Jalin.”
In the wake of Lamar’s 90-69 Southland Conference victory over UIW at the Convocation Center, Hart expressed regret about the situation.
He said it hurts coming to the games knowing that he can’t suit up.
Signs of trouble for the former Houston area prep standout first came to light on Jan. 6.
He said that he expected to be sidelined for two weeks, “taking care of some business” related to his academics.
At the time, he expressed confidence that he would be able to resolve the situation and re-join the team.
Since then, circumstances have changed.
Speaking after the Lamar-UIW game on the UIW campus, Hart ruled out the possibility that he could return.
He explained that he initially looked into the possibility of taking a class in between the fall and spring semesters at SMU in Dallas.
But he discovered that it couldn’t be paid for by his UIW scholarship.
“I was supposed to take a class in Dallas, but I couldn’t afford it, so that makes me ineligible for the rest of the year,” Hart said. “It hurts me to see my teammates. I know they need me. But, that’s what happens.”
Hart said he plans to continue to attend school at UIW and hopes to graduate by December.
UIW senior guard Sam Burmeister said “it’s a tough loss” for the team.
“But we have a philosophy that the next man steps up,” said Burmeister, the coach’s son. “We have Cody Graham. He’s a freshman, and he’s stepped up pretty good so far. I hope he will continue to do that.
“That’s all we can do. We can’t dwell on it. We have to keep moving forward and think positive.”
With a powerful inside presence, Lamar (11-8, 3-3) shot 54.3 percent in the first half and 49.2 percent for the game in a run-away road victory.
UIW (5-11, 0-6) trailed by 13 at intermission and pulled to within 10 twice in the first five minutes of the second half.
But Lamar, with forwards Colton Weisbrod and Josh Nzeakor dominating down low, never allowed the home team to get any closer.
Weisbrod finished with 26 points and nine rebounds. Nzeakor registered a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Guard Nick Garth hit four threes en route to 25 points off the bench for Lamar, which broke a three-game losing streak.
For UIW, forward Charles Brown III scored 26 on 9 of 15 shooting. Freshman guard Keaton Hervey poured in career-high 20 off the bench.
Starting at point guard for the fourth straight game, Graham registered six points, three rebounds and three assists for the Cardinals.
UIW plays at New Orleans on Saturday night.
Lamar forward Josh Nzeakor makes a quick move for a dunk in the first half.