Being No. 1 in the NAIA men's basketball rankings is uncharted water for Campbellsville University.
No. 1 for the first time in school history, the Tigers are 19-1, the best start in Coach Keith Adkins' 15 seasons.
Campbellsville takes a 13-game winning streak into Thursday night's road game against No. 17 Georgetown. That's CU's longest such streak since Travis Ford's 1998-99 team opened 19-0.
And men's basketball is just part of the story at Campbellsville.
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The women's team is 18-1 and ranked No. 3 in the nation. The Tigers also are ranked No. 4 in men's wrestling and No. 5 in women's wrestling.
But it's the No. 1 ranking that has drawn the spotlight.
"It's good for the school program, but it doesn't really mean that much to me," said Damontre Harris, a 6-foot-10 Florida transfer who is reigning national Player of the Week. "I feel like I'm focused on a little more better things than just being No. 1 right now. I want to be No. 1 during March and have the opportunity to play for a national championship, for sure."
Harris posted the Tiger men's first-ever triple-double last week and averaged 12.5 points, 17.5 rebounds, 8.0 blocks, 4.0 steals and 2.0 assists. He is one of four NCAA Division I transfers on the CU roster.
Point guard D'Von Campbell (Rutgers/UTEP) leads the team in assists (5.9 a game) and points (15.2). Harris is second in scoring (11.7) and leads in rebounds (10.1).
"Everybody looks at us and thinks that we're all Damontre Harris and D'Von Campbell," Adkins said. "We returned two or three really good players from last year. I think we returned probably the highest percentage of our scoring from last year's team. Eric Gaines was the leading returning vote-getter off of last year's first-team all-conference team. Miles Rice was the conference Freshman of the Year last year. And Darius Clement was second-team all-conference. So, the two transfers have made a huge difference in what we do, but those three returning guys have kind of made it all come together also."
Rob Robinson (Iowa Western/Illinois-Chicago) leads Campbellsville off the bench with 11.1 points a game. Gaines (Kent State) averages 9.8 points.
So how have the Tigers handled being No. 1?
"I do sense in the last few games, since we earned the No. 1 ranking, that at times I think we play a little bit 'not to lose,'" Adkins said. "We're afraid to lose that ranking. And you can't do that. Because somewhere down the line coming up in the regular season, we're probably going to take a loss."
Campbellsville's only defeat to this point came Nov. 15 at Benedictine (Kan.), 63-54. Benedictine was ranked No. 4 then and is No. 9 now.
"We've still got to go to Georgetown. We've got to go to Cumberlands. We've got to go to Pikeville. We've got to go to St. Catharine's. To finish undefeated for our next 10 games would be an awfully huge task to ask for our guys. So we've got to quit playing to protect our ranking and just play loose ... like we have up to this point. And have fun with it instead of seeing it as something you've got to protect."
On offense, Adkins says he tries to let his players use their talents. The Tigers run set plays, but ball-screen a lot and let Campbell make decisions.
With Harris in the post, opposing teams have to make the decisions. Such as go one-on-one or double team.
"We're not overcomplicating our offensive system, for sure," Adkins said. "We're a mid-tempo team; we're not too fast up and down the floor, but we'll push it on misses and turnovers. And on made shots we'll try to run a set play to dictate where our next shot comes from.
"Defensively, I would say we're as close to 100 percent man-to-man as you can get. We don't press a whole lot. We pride ourselves on our half-court, man-to-man defense. And this year we've been a little bit better than we have been in the past, and a lot of it has to do with Damontre and his presence in the post."
Women will open
Campbellsville's women will face No. 25 Georgetown in Thursday's 6 p.m. opener.
Their No. 3 ranking is the highest in Ginger Colvin's eight years as head coach. At 18-1, the Tigers are off to their best start since going 30-1 in 2009-10 entering the Mid-South Conference championship game.
"We have a lot of depth and we don't have any selfishness," said Colvin, whose team has reeled off eight wins in a row since a 68-66 loss at Lindsey Wilson on Dec. 4. "I think we've got a lot of weapons. That makes us really hard. We play around 10 kids, and I think our depth is what gets us where we are. We do a really good job defensively, and our kids just kind of buy into our system, and everybody feeds off that."
The system includes a half-court zone defense and a post-oriented offense.
Caroline Owen leads CU in scoring (11.3 a game), while Lindsey Burd is tops in rebounds (6.2) and LeeAnn Grider leads in assists (4.7).