GREENSBORO, N.C. — Say the acronym B.O.N.E around the Kennesaw State men’s basketball team and everyone knows exactly what you mean. It literally helped turn around a program.

Be One No Ego.

Trademark pending. Seriously.

Coach Amir Abdur-Rahim uses the acronym as a foundation of the program that four seasons ago went 1-28. Now, Kennesaw State is in the NCAA Tournament. The Owls make their first-ever appearance in the tournament with a first-round game today against Xavier at the Greensboro Coliseum.

In essence it means, check your ego at the door.

“Even though it’s a team sport, they are still individuals, and within that you still have egos,” Abdur-Rahim said. “Even more so today than when I played. I’m not blaming social media, but now when you have your own social media, your own Twitter, your own Instagram, you can become really self-absorbed. (San Antonio Spurs coach) Gregg Popovich said this one time: We need guys who have gotten over themselves. Our guys have gotten over themselves.

“They know that when we say B.O.N.E. – Be One No Ego – it’s about being one and no one’s ego ever take precedence and be more than the team. They’ve done a phenomenal job of that.”

Abdur-Rahim uses the acronym so much that a former player suggested the trademark.

“No one steal that. It’s in the works,” Abdur-Rahim joked.

As Kennesaw State has made its remarkable run to the NCAA Tournament, the past struggles of the program have been well documented. Abdur-Rahim took over in 2019-20 and finished with the infamous record of 1-28 as the rebuild got underway in earnest. The Owls then went 5-19, 13-18 and now 26-8 in the following seasons. They won the ASUN Conference tournament earlier this month to clinch the berth in the NCAAs. Kennesaw State is the only team in this year’s tournament making the school’s first appearance.

In the 10 previous seasons as a Division I team, Kennesaw State had a combined record of 84-229.

“Being that I’ve been here from the start, it’s always been preached pretty well,” senior guard Terrell Burden said Thursday. “Nobody cares about who gets the credit. Nobody cares about who scores, who gets the assists. We just want to win games and compete as a team and build something special.”

Abdur-Rahim wore a black long-sleeved T-shirt to his news conference Thursday. Emblazoned across the front was the acronym for all to see. It’s more than motivational fodder.

“I bought into that when I got here,” junior guard Brandon Stroud said. “Kennesaw was 1-28. I had a lot of schools under my belt, but when I got here, I bought into it. I love Coach Rahim. Whatever he is speaking, I’m going to listen and apply it. That’s my guy. Whatever he breathes into the guys, I’m going to breathe into the guys, too.”


- Kennesaw State vs. Xavier (NCAA men’s tournament), 12:40 p.m., truTV

- Georgia vs. Florida State (NCAA women’s tournament), 1:30 p.m., ESPN2


Go to today for results from KSU and Georgia tournament games.