NSU men’s basketball prepares to refute low expectations
TNE Editor

NSU men’s basketball prepares to refute low expectations

Published 10/23/17

Zach Cobler

TNE Writer

The NSU men’s basketball 2016-17 season came to an end after a loss to Fort Hays State in the MIAA conference tournament. The RiverHawks ended their season 5-23 overall and 4-15 in MIAA conference play, finishing 12th in the MIAA.

The RiverHawks were picked to finish 12th again in the 2017 MIAA preseason poll. After a busy offseason for NSU that included 13 new player arrivals to the team and a new head coach, the team seems to be on the right path. The team will look to exceed the expectations put on them this year by the MIAA, as they feel underrated.

“We as a team feel disrespected,” said Montre Williams, junior guard from Copperas Cove, Texas. “We feel more underrated than anything because of the position we are in. We have to earn our respect and prove ourselves. We are going to be a lot better than 12th.”

With so many new teammates it can be hard to develop chemistry between the players. The RiverHawks have done a lot this offseason to combat this issue.

“We have done a lot this preseason on and off the court to gel,” said Williams. “We have played pick up this preseason to learn how everyone on the team plays, and workouts have been a huge factor, as well. The workouts helped us come together when things got tough and we were there for each other.”

The RiverHawks play in one of the best conferences in Division II. The MIAA has produced two of the past four national champions and are constantly in the national title picture, with the MIAA producing last years’ national champion in Northwest Missouri State.

NSU was on the verge of being a lot better on paper last year. The RiverHawks lost seven contests by less than eight points this past season, showing they had the ability to compete with their opponents. They will look to get over that losing hump with their new head coach, Mark Downey.

Downey has a record of 204-103 as a head coach at the NCAA Division II level, showing he knows how to win games. He also has four appearances in the NCAA tournament. Downey has his head on straight and knows he will have a challenge on his hands in turning around the program, but that does not mean he is not expecting great things from the RiverHawks this season.

“I am not very patient,” said Downey. “My expectations are probably higher than a lot of people. My personal goal is to make the NCAA tournament and I hope I can relay that to my players. We hope to find ourselves somewhere near the top of conference near the end of the season and vying for NCAA tournament spot.”

The players’ expectations will not be that much different than their head coach. The players will look to prove they were underrated in the MIAA preseason poll.

“I want us to make the NCAA tournament this year,” said Lucas Antunez, senior guard from Madrid, Spain. “We have to take it one game at a time. Every game is important for us and we have to continue to get better in practice to achieve that goal.”

The RiverHawks open the season on the road where they will be competing in the MIAA/ GAC Challenge. They will play Northwestern Oklahoma at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 10 in Alva.

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