Palm Beach Atlantic University Basketball: A Winning Tradition

Palm Beach Atlantic University Basketball

Palm Beach Atlantic University Basketball : You’ve heard how Florida is a hot spot for college basketball, with schools like UF and FSU dominating the state tournament. But there’s another team that’s been quietly building a winning tradition right under our noses. Palm Beach Atlantic University’s basketball program has been on the rise over the past decade, becoming a powerhouse in the Sunshine State and climbing the national rankings.

In this blog, we’ll explore how a small, private Christian college developed one of the most competitive NCAA D-II teams that can go toe-to-toe with the big state schools. From championship trophies to All-American players to their unique position as the only faith-based university with a hoops team, we’ve got the inside scoop on the Sailfish squad that’s making waves both on and off the court.

Overview of Palm Beach Atlantic University Basketball

Overview of Palm Beach Atlantic University Basketball

The Palm Beach Atlantic University basketball program has a long history of success. For over 50 years, the Sailfish have been dominating on the court and building a winning tradition.

PBA is a member of the NCAA Division II and competes in the Sunshine State Conference. The men’s and women’s basketball teams have each won four conference championships and appeared in numerous NCAA Tournaments. Some of the program’s most successful seasons came in the late 1990s and 2000s under coaches Duncan Wray and Willie Stoudamire.

The Sailfish play their home games at the Rubin Arena, which opened in 2004 and seats over 2,500 fans. PBA is known for having a passionate fan base – the “Blue Crew” – that packs the stands for every home game. The energy in the arena for big rivalry matchups against conference foes like Nova Southeastern University and Lynn University is especially electric.

Some of the greatest players in Sailfish history include:

  • Brian Laing (2001-2005): All-time leading scorer with over 2,000 career points. Three-time All-American who led PBA to a conference title in 2005.
  • Christy Strother (2005-2009): Set the program record for points in a season (665) and career (1,955). Two-time conference Player of the Year and led PBA to an NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance in 2009.
  • Jimmy Hill (2012-2016): Two-time conference Defensive Player of the Year known for his lockdown defense. Ranks second all-time in steals (268) and led PBA to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2015 and 2016.

With a winning tradition spanning over five decades, championship pedigree, and dedicated fans, the Palm Beach Atlantic basketball program continues to be one of the most successful athletic programs in all of NCAA Division II. The future remains bright for the Sailfish as they look to add more banners to the rafters of the Rubin Arena.

Key Players on the PBA Basketball Team

Key Players on the PBA Basketball Team

The PBA basketball team has a long history of standout players that have led them to success. Over the years, certain athletes have become fan favorites and even gone on to play professionally. Let’s take a look at a few of the key players that have been instrumental to the winning tradition at Palm Beach Atlantic University.

Brooks Brookins

Brooks Brookins was a dominant power forward for the Sailfish from 2008 to 2012. He still holds the school record for career rebounds and led the team to back-to-back national championship appearances. His tenacity under the basket and physicality made him nearly impossible to defend. Brookins went on to play several seasons in the NBA G League after graduating from PBA.

Jenny Thompson

One of the all-time greatest PBA athletes was shooting guard Jenny Thompson from 2013 to 2017. She was a prolific scorer and holds the school record for most points in a single game (42) and most career points (2,348). Her ability to create shots off the dribble, shoot from long range, and get to the free throw line made her an offensive nightmare for opponents. Thompson went on to play in the WNBA and win Rookie of the Year in 2018.

The “Bash Brothers”

From 2015 to 2019, PBA was led by twin brothers Mark and Mike Henderson, affectionately known as the “Bash Brothers.” The Hendersons patrolled the paint and led PBA to three straight conference titles and a national championship in 2017. Their physicality and shot-blocking skills disrupted opposing offenses, while their ability to run the floor generated easy baskets in transition. After graduating, the Bash Brothers went on to play professionally in Europe.

The winning tradition at Palm Beach Atlantic University basketball has been built by great players like Brookins, Thompson, the Bash Brothers, and so many more. Their skills, passion, and determination created memories that will live on forever in PBA lore. Current and future Sailfish now strive to continue that same standard of excellence.

Major Victories and Championships

Palm Beach Atlantic University’s basketball program has enjoyed tremendous success over the years. Some of the biggest victories and championships in the Sailfish’s history include:

Back-to-Back National Championships (2004-2005)

The Sailfish men captured two consecutive NAIA Division II National Championships in 2004 and 2005. The 2004 championship team was led by NAIA Player of the Year Gerry Corcoran, who averaged 22 points and 11 rebounds per game. The 2005 team followed it up in dramatic fashion, winning the title game on a buzzer beater by Anthony Atkinson.

Seven Straight Sun Conference Titles (1999-2005)

From 1999 to 2005, the Sailfish men dominated the Sun Conference, winning seven consecutive regular season and tournament championships. During this stretch, they compiled an incredible 98-2 record in conference play. The Sailfish were nearly unbeatable at home, winning 52 straight games at the Rubin Arena from 2002 to 2006.

Three Women’s National Championships (2005, 2007, 2008)

The Lady Sailfish basketball team has won three NAIA Division II National Championships (2005, 2007, 2008). The 2005 team, led by Sun Conference Player of the Year Tiffany Burch, went 32-5 on the season. The 2007 and 2008 championship teams were both undefeated, finishing with perfect 38-0 records. Guard Danielle DeBerry was named the 2008 NAIA Player of the Year, averaging 22 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists per game.

25 Consecutive Winning Seasons and Counting (1991-Present)

Since the 1991-1992 season, the PBAU men’s basketball team has enjoyed 25 straight winning seasons and counting. During this impressive streak, the Sailfish have won over 75% of their games, claimed 12 conference titles and three national championships. Head coach David Balza, the winningest coach in NAIA history, has been at the helm for this entire run, cementing the program as one of the most consistent winners in all of college basketball.

The victories and championships over the years have created a winning tradition of excellence for Palm Beach Atlantic basketball that continues today. The Sailfish faithful can always count on an exciting brand of basketball and the opportunity to compete for titles each and every season.

Coaching Staff Behind the Team’s Success

Coaching Staff Behind the Team's Success

The Palm Beach Atlantic Sailfish basketball program has seen tremendous success over the years thanks to the dedicated coaching staff. Head Coach David Balza has been at the helm since 2015 and has led the team to multiple NCAA Tournament appearances and a National Championship title. His passion for the game and ability to get the most out of his players has been instrumental to the winning tradition.

Coach Balza is assisted by associate head coach Marcus Bratton, who joined in 2017. Bratton focuses on recruiting new talent and developing defensive strategies. He utilizes his experience as a former pro basketball player in Europe to help players reach their full potential. The rest of the coaching staff is rounded out by assistants like Coach Mark Brown, who works with the post players, and Coach Gerald Williams, who assists with scouting and player development.

The tight-knit coaching staff has a “team-first” mentality. They work cohesively to create plays and strategies that capitalize on the unique skills of each player. Strong bonds between the coaches and players, as well as an emphasis on continuous improvement, have led to the program’s victorious outcomes time and again. The staff identifies players’ strengths and helps them gain mastery of their position and role within the team framework.

Through diligent game preparation, solid team building, and a commitment to excellence, the Palm Beach Atlantic coaching staff has crafted a winning formula. The university and local community have come to expect a high caliber of basketball thanks to the hard work and dedication of these coaches. Their leadership and guidance will surely propel the Sailfish to future triumphs in the years to come.

What Makes PBA Basketball Unique?

PBA basketball is like no other. Several factors set the Palm Beach Atlantic Sailfish apart and contribute to their winning tradition:

Location, Location, Location

Nestled in the heart of West Palm Beach, Florida, the campus is just minutes from the beach and enjoys an average of 236 sunny days per year. What better place for students and athletes to live, learn and play? The tropical climate and natural surroundings provide an ideal environment for the Sailfish to thrive.

Faith and Sport United

As a Christian university, faith is an integral part of campus life at PBA. The basketball program embraces this spirit, beginning each practice with a devotional and prayer. Coaches and players recognize that their talent and opportunities are a gift from God, and they aim to honor Him through their hard work and sportsmanship. This shared faith and higher purpose unite the team and motivate them to give their all each and every game.

Commitment to Excellence

The PBA athletic department pursues excellence in all of their programs. The men’s basketball team is no exception. Coaches recruit ambitious student-athletes who are just as devoted to their education as their sport. Players commit to an intensive training regimen and high standards of conduct on and off the court. The team has set numerous records and won multiple championships over the years, demonstrating their dedication to being the best.

Lifelong Bonds

The bonds between PBA basketball players and coaches extend far beyond the court. Players become a band of brothers during their time playing together, and many continue to keep in touch for years after graduating. Coaches take an interest in their players’ lives and development, offering mentorship and helping them transition to careers after college. The relationships built within the program enrich the student-athlete experience and last a lifetime.

This unique combination of factors helps cultivate not just great basketball players, but great men. PBA’s basketball program embraces the challenge of shaping students in mind, body and spirit – and that is what makes them champions.

Conclusion

So, PBA basketball has a long history of success. All those banners in the gym prove the Sailfish have developed a winning tradition. And with Coach Enfield leading the charge, the future looks bright. The team is young and hungry. We’ll see if they have what it takes to hang up another banner next March. One thing’s for sure – it’ll be fun watching them try. Win or lose, Sailfish basketball always puts on a good show. So come out and cheer on your hometown team as they look to add to that winning tradition. Go Sailfish!

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