Countdown to Tipoff: 3 Days
On Saturday night, the 2008-09 season tips off for JU against Florida State at 7p.m.

Three years ago, Cliff Warren’s first JU team faced these same Seminoles in his first game as head coach.

Since that night, a lot has changed with JU basketball – namely a return to the winning tradition which has brought fans back to Downtown Jacksonville to watch the Dolphins play.

You see, that first season was like watch reruns of police car chases on TV. The Dolphins were overmatched in every game (except one), they all started the same and had the same result. Like the police chases, you knew the result before it even started.

In the last three years, Warren has guided JU basketball through a renaissance – reviving the program to the point that the Dolphins were one game away from the NCAA Tournament a year ago.

How has it happened? And so fast?

Dedication. Determination. Commitment.

First, Warren got the commitment from the University administration to revive this program. From day one, Warren hit the ground running to build this program back to its once lofty heights of being a perennial contender for a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Next came the commitments from recruits who joined the program and bought into Warren’s vision of a championship program. These young men were dedicating themselves to do the hard work, on and off the floor, to lead this program back to glory.

Last, but certainly not least, was the determination of everyone involved with the program – from administration to coaches to student-athletes, and everyone in between. Much like it takes a team effort to play the game well; it takes a team effort off the floor to build a program back to respectability.

It’s taken three years to get to this point, but Saturday the Dolphins start a journey that has one goal in mind – the NCAA Tournament.