By Blake Penfield, Sports Writer
The ACU men’s basketball team officially commences the 2006-07 season with back-to-back games in the ACU Classic on Friday and Saturday. The Wildcats will play Hillsdale Baptist from Moore, Okla., on Friday and Concordia University from Austin on Saturday.
The ACU Classic is a set of games predetermined by the coaching staff and featuring men’s teams of ACU, Lubbock Christian, Hillsdale Baptist and Concordia. The classic was conceived and set up by ACU head coach Jason Copeland and his father, head coach at LCU. While ACU has hosted previous ACU Classics in years past, this is the first one in quite some time.
“It just gives us a good chance to start out our season at home with other teams,” Copeland said.
Hillsdale Baptist has already played several games this season, which began in late October.
The team is 3-5.
Hillsdale contends for the national championship in their league, the National Christian College Athletic Association, nearly every year. Some of this success is attributed to their play style, Copeland said.
“They’ll try to slowly drain us down,” Copeland said. They’re very deliberate and will let the shot clock go down. They’ll also try to isolate our guards and go one on one,” Copeland hopes to combat this by focusing on not gambling with the ball.
The Cats will look for easy, sure shots inside while playing solid, low-risk defense. Out of its eighteen players Hillsdale currently has 11 freshmen and one senior.
This Classic also marks Concordia’s first game of the season.
While Concordia’s record last season was 6-18, this season they are expected to shine. With forward Valentino Maxwell named the Pre-season Player of the Year, Concordia has been ranked number two in their league.
Copeland looks at Concordia’s play style as a sharp contrast to Hillsdale.
“They press, play full court and they play real fast offense. They’re very aggressive,” Copeland said.
He hopes to defy this style by playing strong against their trap, forcing three-on-two opportunities and capitalizing on those opportunities—all mixed in with a good dose of careful ball handling.
ACU plays against Hillsdale and Concordia challenges LCU on Friday. ACU will play Concordia and LCU will play against Hillsdale on Saturday.