The men’s basketball team tips off its season Friday night against Hillsdale Baptist.
The Wildcats are returning seven players from last season’s roster, all of which played significant minutes for ACU last year.
“It’s really nice to have returning guys, it helps to not have to start all over like I feel we have the past few years,” said Joe Golding, head coach. “But our guys are ready to get to it and stop beating up on each other, and as a coaching staff, we’re ready to get the season going.”
Hillsdale will go into the game with a 2-3 record. The team defeated Southwest Adventist Nov. 1, 96-70, and Central Christian University, 85-76, Nov. 8.
“We start off with Hillsdale and then we get tested really early in the season against some tough teams,” Golding said. “We’ve looked good in practice, we’re better than last year, so now it’s just a question of how much better we are and whether we can show that against the teams we play.”
The team is very excited to have stayed healthy and added depth to the roster over the summer.
“It’s great to have depth, it really helps you throughout the course of the season,” Golding said. “Because of guys coming in and getting healthy, it allows us to not have to play guys like Parker (Wentz), Austin (Cooke) and Riley (Payne) 38 or 39 minutes a game.”
After missing half of the season due to injuries and academic ineligibility, the Wildcats’ best scorers, senior guards Harrison Hawkins and LaDarrien Williams, are expected to be back to play a major role in the Wildcat’s offense.
“LD (Williams) has been battling an injury, but he finally looks like he’s back to normal so he will play against Hillsdale,” Golding said. “We’re going to take it slow with him so by the time we get to conference games, he’ll be fresh and one hundred percent.”
Size will be an issue for ACU, as the team’s biggest players on the roster include six-foot-seven junior forward Austin Cooke, six-foot-eight junior transfer forward Duran Porter and six-foot-ten senior forward Alexsander Milosavljevic from Serbia.
“Size and rebounding will be a challenge, but we’re a hardworking team so we’ll be able to battle with the best of them in or out of conference,” Golding said. “Parker, H (Hawkins) and LD (Williams) will primarily play the two-guard, and small forward for us and Jalen Little and K.J. Maura will switch out at point.”
The game will begin at 7 p.m. in Moody Coliseum.