By Joshua Parrott, Sports Writer
While most students were still asleep in their beds, the ACU men’s basketball team took the first steps toward erasing the nightmares of a season ago and beginning a new era in Wildcat basketball with Tuesday’s 6 a.m. practice in Moody Coliseum.
The Wildcats closed out the 2001-02 season 7-19 overall, including 2-10 in the Lone Star Conference South Division.
Head coach Klint Pleasant said he was not shocked by the prediction his team will finish last according to the LSC South Pre-Season Poll.
“With a coaching change and all the new players coming in, it doesn’t surprise me,” said Pleasant, who is in his first season at ACU after spending the previous season as an assistant coach at Kent State. “What I tell my players is that the pre-season poll doesn’t matter, but the post-season poll does.”
Pleasant, who played football at ACU in the mid-1990s, recruited three junior college players, including Cliff Green, a 5-11 junior guard, a potential starter at point guard.
“Cliff is a real good penetrator and can kick the ball back out for the shooters,” said Tucker Pierson, a 6-5 junior forward from Corpus Christi who led the Wildcats in rebounding, averaging nearly six per game.
Pleasant also recruited two high schoolers that will provide some spark off the bench.
A.J. Porterfield is a 6-2 all-state guard from New Mexico and Stephen Story is a 6-7 forward from San Antonio, who played his prep ball at East Central, the alma mater of former Wildcat Chaz Jackson.
In the backcourt, Rodney Lee, a 6-3 junior guard from Fort Worth, will be expected to provide plenty of scoring and outside shooting after leading the team in scoring last season, averaging almost 14 points per game. Ryan Coleman, a 6-1 junior guard from The Woodlands, will spend time at both guard positions this season.
Also returning for the Wildcats are forwards Jeff Johnson, Daniel Salmon and Calvin Nite. Johnson was a starter last year and played at Abilene High School. Both Sal-mon and Nite started games a year ago.
Pleasant said the Wildcats will compete in the LSC South, but that the players must unite before that is possible.
“The major thing is chemistry and that we jell as a team,” Pleasant said. “Some of the things I’ll be expecting are toughness, work ethic and attitude. When we’re on the floor, we will go all out with intensity and controlled chaos.”
The Wildcats open the season Nov. 12 at home against the International Sports Federation.