No. 2 seed Trojans take the court Thursday

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 27, 2001

The stage is finally set. Nine games. Ten teams. One chance to make history.

The Troy State men’s basketball team will play in the Trans America Athletic Conference Tournament this week seeking to win its first tournament title since joining the league before the 1997-98 season. More important to Trojans head coach Don Maestri, however, is winning a game.

The Trojans are 0-2 all-time in TAAC Tournament play, having lost in the first round in each of the last two seasons. Last season, the Trojans were the No. 1 seed. This season, they enter as the No. 2 seed.

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"We aren’t worried about anything but our first game," Trojans coach Don Maestri said. "We want to focus on winning in the first round because that is something we have never done before. If we can win our first one, we will look at the next one and so on. The big prize doesn’t need to enter into our thoughts at all."

The big prize, of course, is the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament, which begins March 8. The tournament champion receives the free pass.

Troy State will play the winner of Wednesday’s Jacksonville State-Central Florida game on Thursday at 1:15 p.m. CST. The tournament is being played in Atlanta at Georgia State. The tournament championship game is set for Saturday at 1 p.m. CST and will be televised by ESPN.

"I really think we have a greater disadvantage by being the No. 2 seed," Maestri said. "Everybody else knows who they are playing right now, and we will have to wait and see. That doesn’t give you a lot of time to prepare and get focused. We are happy to be where we are, but our most important goal right now is winning the first one."

The Trojans concluded their regular season 17-11 overall and 12-6 in league play ­ good enough for second place overall ­ after dispatching arch-rival Jacksonville State, 77-63, on Saturday night at Trojan Arena.