Volleyball, football, and soccer are nearing the end of their seasons, but the ACU men’s basketball team is eager and ready to replace them. The Lone Star Conference league office voted the ACU team to finish last in the South Division this season, but head coach Jason Copeland doesn’t expect that to be the case.
“This is a team that is ready to compete for the conference championship,” Copeland said. “We’ve been implementing new things, and with them, this team will be able to compete and be a tough team to handle.”
The Wildcats only have three players returning from last year’s team, but among them is sophomore Dosh Simms, last season’s LSC Freshman of the Year. Simms played in all 27 games last season, starting in seven of them. He had a 53 percent field goal percentage on the season and averaged over four rebounds per game.
The team doesn’t seem to think the new faces and low number of returning players will affect its success at all and is eager to prove it.
“We’ve come a long way since the beginning of the year,” freshman Grant Wilson said. “We have a lot of new faces, but we’ve really come together, and we’re all very ready for the season to get in full swing. We have a lot of talent this year, and we’re ready to start taking it out on the whole conference.”
The exhibition portion of the Wildcats’ season began last Saturday with a tough game against University of Houston. The ‘Cats lost the game in a devastating last-minute surge by the Houston squad, 71-68. Senior Giordan Cole led the Wildcats in scoring with 16 points, while he and junior teammate Desmond Woodberry tied for the team lead in rebounds with six each. The Wildcats were disappointed with the loss but remain positive about their upcoming season.
“The offseason has been built around becoming a better team,” Copeland said. “We’ve been emphasizing defense and letting the defense allow our offense to get easy transition baskets. Our [men’s basketball team] strength is quickness. That will be something our opponents notice this season.”
The Wildcats hope to show off that defense and quickness when they play their first home game of the season against the University of Texas of the Permian Basin at 7 p.m. Friday night in Moody Coliseum.