By Blake Penfield, Sports Writer
Towering athletes running the floor, the squeaks of tennis shoes echoing throughout the coliseum and the pungent smell of three-hour workouts coming from the weight room can only mean one thing: the ACU Wildcats men’s basketball season is approaching.
And with a whopping ten new players, the team hopes to bring a better record than last year’s 8-19 season.
Guard Philip Brooks, guard Elmo Williams, guard Cortnie Ross, guard Spencer Oestrich, guard Chris Hergenreter, guard Riley Lambert, forward Igor Vrzina, forward Marko Nikolic, forward Jon Ward and center Marcos Hubner are the new Wildcats trying to propel the team to a successful season.
However, the new team is not without experience. Seven of these new players are transfer students recruited by head coach Jason Copeland and assistant coach Joe Golding because of what they can offer in experience, skill and leadership. With this new lineup Copeland feels that this team has many advantages over last year’s team.
“We’re much bigger and stronger inside than we were last season with a lot more depth,” Copeland said.
Last year the tallest player the Wildcats could muster was 6’4″. Not only does this year’s team have three players measuring at 6’8″, but center Marcos Hubner stands at a towering 6’9″.
Though this is only Copeland’s second season at ACU, he has some specific goals for this new team.
“Our goals for this season are to continue to improve, continue the building process. This is a team that can contend for the conference tournament,” Copeland said. “We’ve got to be a cohesive unit that will continue to work hard and continue to get better from the start to the end of the year.”
Copeland started the official team practices on Oct. 15 and will have them sweating it out six times a week for about three hours at a time with a focus on team building and cohesion.
“We’re working out, trying to get accustomed to a new system and used to playing with each other,” he said. “It’s a slow process. It’s a building process.”
However, Copeland isn’t worried. He said the team is already pretty cohesive and doesn’t have the problems that are typical with teams that have large amount of new players like this one.
This will not be a team led only by one or two players, Copeland said.
“There are many solid players this year, not just one star. We’ve already got nine or ten guys that can play every night,” he said.
The Wildcats’ first game will be Nov. 17, after two exhibition matches.