Robert Osborne VUU
2022-2023 Basketball

Virginia Union awaits redemption shot in NCAA D2 Tournament

Virginia Union fell short of its goal of a CIAA title. But VUU SHOULD get a shot at the national title after being denied in 2022.

BALTIMORE, MD —The disappointment and disbelief on the look of Jay Butler’s Virginia Union players said it all is they walked into the post-game press conference. VUU, the top seed in the 2023 CIAA Tournament, bowed out in the semifinals to a Winston-Salem State program it had beaten four times since 2021.

That loss left Virginia Union with its NCAA Tournament fate in the hands of a regional committee that will award five at-large bids in addition to those given to the winners of the three conferences (CIAA, PSAC and Mountain East Conference) that make up the Atlantic Region.

Butler, who is a member of the regional committee, was disappointed as well. But he was also confident that his team still had more ball ahead. 

“I tell the kids, we got a lot more basketball left. We’re number four in the region right now. We probably got a very good chance — but we’ve got to wait and keep our fingers crossed and hope that we remain in the eight.”

The regional rankings were released on Friday and VUU remained in fourth spot, despite its loss. VUU is 23-7 — the same record that it had last season when it was left out of the tournament after losing to Fayetteville State in the CIAA championship game.

Friday’s loss to Winston-Salem State in the semifinals came to a team that is currently 21-8. 

“I thought on paper Winston-Salem had the most talent in the conference. We had our opportunities. I thought during the year they were probably trying to figure it out. Right now, they’re starting to figure it out.“

Keleaf Tate, Virginia Union

Among VUU’s signature wins is a victory over Augusta back in November.

“We had a great year. Anytime you can win 23 games in a year, beat the no. 2 team in the country. Go up to Connecticut and win the CP3 tournament back-to-back,” Butler said. “No. 4 in the region, top 25 in the country. Had a good year, had a great year. And still got a lot more basketball to play.” 

As Butler said earlier in the week, success is measured at VUU by championships. That includes national championships as well as CIAA crowns as VUU has three in men’s basketball under legendary coach Dave Robbins. Butler, a point guard for Robbins in the 1990s, has his sights set on the big prize. 

“For me — six games — you’re a national champion. That’s the goal right now,” Butler said. “This team has beaten some of the best teams in the region and the best teams in the country. So we’re already built to play NCAA basketball. But the guys gotta bounce back and learn from their mistakes.”

The men’s NCAA D2 selection show is set to air on Sunday, March 5 at 11 PM EST. 

Virginia Union awaits redemption shot in NCAA D2 Tournament
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