Both the men and women’s basketball teams are closing in on the 2017-2018 campaign with less than a month to go before they open on Nov. 10.
The women will officially begin the season at 5:30 against the University of the Southwest, then the men are scheduled to play against Randall University at 7:30.
The men were predicted a seventh place finish in the Southland Conference at the league’s media event on Monday. They sit under New Orleans, Sam Houston State, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Southeastern Louisiana, Lamar and Stephen F. Austin. But head coach Joe Golding said being predicted seventh doesn’t matter to his team.
“We don’t spend a lot of time on preseason polls,” Golding said “Preseason polls are for media and for people to talk. There’s a bunch of magazines that come out over the summer and we’ve been picked anywhere from second to seventh. I think the conference is the most competitive it’s been on paper since we’ve been in the league.”
Junior point guard Jaylen Franklin and redshirt sophomore center Jalone Friday were honored by being named to the Southland Conference preseason second team.
Friday received a bigger honor last year when he was named Southland Conference freshman of the year. He was also the co-leader in scoring for the team averaging 13.7 points per game.
Franklin was a good facilitator for his team, finishing with 115 assists on the season and also averaged 10.8 points per game.
“I’m very honored to make preseason second team this year,” Franklin said. “This motivates me even more because I know what our team can do this year with the new pieces we added over the summer. We have big goals this year and one of those goals is going to the NCAA tournament our first year. We just gotta continue to build everyday and put God first because he has something planned for this group of guys and I can’t wait to see it.”
Along with Franklin and Friday, the Wildcats return junior forward Jaren Lewis, who was the co-leader with Friday, averaging 13.7 points per game.
ACU also brings back seniors Drake Green and Isaiah Tripp, juniors Hayden Howell and Hayden Farquhar, sophomores Peyton Ricks, B.J. Maxwell and Trey Lenox and red shirt freshman Kolton Kohl.
Notable non-conference games for the men include Texas Tech, Air Force, Arkansas State, Bowling Green and Texas State. The men will begin their conference schedule against New Orleans on Dec. 28.
On the women’s side, the team will be trying to do something rare in winning a third consecutive regular season Southland Conference championship. But now that the Wildcats are officially eligible for the postseason tournament, the regular season carries a little less weight, as its the winner of the Southland tournament that makes the NCAA Tournament.
Head coach Julie Goodenough and her back-to-back Southland Conference champs sit at a predicted 5th place finish, a year after the departure of superstar seniors Suzzy and Lizzy Dimba, Alexis Mason and Sydney Shelstead. The women come in behind Lamar, Central Arkansas, Stephen F. Austin and New Orleans.
Goodenough said that her team is ready to get the season underway.
“We’re just excited about the season starting,” Goodenough said. “We’re happy with where we are right now in our practices and looking forward to the upcoming season.”
The team will return a starter in sophomore point guard Breanna Wright, who finished last season with an impressive 117 assists and averaged 5.5 points per game.
Other returners include seniors Sierra Allen and Taudenciah Oluoch, junior Sara Williamson and sophomores Dominique Golightly, Pamela Herrera and Lexi Kirgan.
The women’s notable non-conference games will include Arkansas, SMU and Idaho. Their conference schedule will also begin with New Orleans on Dec. 28.