INSIGHT: Slowly...but surely

Dec. 6, 2006

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Patience is a virtue - something that Cliff Warren has been blessed with as he rebuilds the JU basketball program.

His patience allowed him to make it through last season and build for the future, a very bright future.

That future is built around this year's six freshmen, five of which are seeing significant minutes with three anchoring the starting lineup.

It is those youngsters that have made the biggest strides this season as the Dolphins have won three games and made the top two teams in the Atlantic Sun Conference sweat more than they wanted to on their own courts this past weekend.

From top to bottom, the Dolphins have shown a lot of progress in the opening month of the season.

Take these signs of improvement:

- JU has racked up three wins already this season, already a vast improvement upon last year.

- JU has won when it's not playing its best, the sign of a team that knows how to win and will do whatever it takes to reach its goal.

- The Dolphins have a balanced team offense, with six players averaging at least eight points per game and three in double figures.

- JU opened Atlantic Sun Conference play against the defending regular season and tournament champions, going toe-to-toe and holding their own.

Warren's patience has showed a vision of the future that looks to rekindle memories of the glory days of JU basketball, when a trip to the postseason was a regular occurrence.

And Warren will be the first to admit that this team isn't where he wants it to be. He knows he's missing a few pieces, but he and his staff are working day and night to get those final pieces to the championship puzzle.

They have already signed one player and have been working the phones, highways, and gyms across the country to make sure they find the right fit for the program.

If this team was on the stock market, it would be a company coming out of bankruptcy protection but ready for a powerful surge up the charts, out performing what the experts predicted and other companies are taking notice - similar to the airline we flew up to Nashville - Delta.

Many experts predicted the Dolphins to finish ninth in the A-Sun this season. I think we'll see something much better than that, with bigger things coming over the next few years.

The margin from winning and losing games is razor thin and this team is poised for a breakthrough. When they do, Katie bar the door, because this group will be tough to handle and a whole lot of fun to watch.