By Joel Weckerly, Sports Editor
Head coach Klint Pleasant cut the men’s basketball team’s practice time down from two hours to one Monday, a good indication for a team so soon into its regular season.
“They were going so hard in practice that we had to cut it short,” Pleasant said. “We’re playing extremely well right now.”
Judging by the Wildcats’ 4-0 record through Thursday afternoon (the results of Thursday night’s game at Southeast-ern Oklahoma were unavailable at press time), Pleasant’s statement rings true.
ACU gets its next test of living up to the standard on the road Saturday at Lone Star Conference North opponent East Central Oklahoma. The Tigers (1-1 through Thursday) finished 12-16 overall and 4-8 in the LSC North. ECO’s main threat is 6-foot-5 senior shooting guard Jason Wilkerson, the LSC North Preseason Player of the Year.
Last year, Wilkerson led the LSC in scoring with 21.4 points per game and was third in conference rebounding with 8.5 rebounds per game. The Greenville native is also a perimeter threat, knocking down 2.82 three-pointers a game last season (third-best in LSC) and connecting on 38.2 percent of those shots (No. 8 in LSC).
“That dude is a good player,” senior guard Rodney Lee said. “I remember he killed us last year. He’s going to get his [points], so we can’t worry about him. The biggest thing is to win.”
“East Central is a really good team,” Pleasant said. “This game is a big test. Anytime you can go on the road in our conference and win- it’s a big win.”
After Saturday’s game, the Wildcats embark on a seven-game stretch while most ACU students head home for the holiday vacation. ACU plays at home Dec. 13 against Dallas Christian and plays host to the ACU Christmas Classic Dec. 19-20, facing St. Edward’s and Rhema. The Wildcats hit the road for a Dec. 30 game against Division I Southwest Texas State before returning home to face Cameron and Southwestern Oklahoma State on Jan. 3 and Jan. 5, respectively. The Wildcats final game before the spring semester starts is Jan. 8 at Tarleton State, then they return home for a Jan. 15 matchup with Central Oklahoma.
“We’re looking forward to all those games,” Pleasant said. “Our biggest thing is we want to keep improving from one game to the next and help our confidence going into conference play.”
Lee said he hopes students notice an improved team when they return for games next semester.
“We’re still jelling, but after break hopefully people will notice we’ve been winning and that we can get a lot of effort from everybody.”
Heading into the break, junior shooting guard David Baxter leads the team in scoring with 18.8 points per game, while senior forward Tucker Pierson leads the Cats with 11.3 points per game. Senior point guard Cliff Green leads the team in assists per game with 6.8.