2022 Kansas Wesleyan Coyote Athletic Hall of Fame Inductee – Men’s Basketball 2006-07

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of five announcing the 2022 inductees into the Kansas Wesleyan University Coyotes Sports Hall of Fame. Profiles of each of the inductees will be posted every Wednesday through August 24. The Coyote Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony is scheduled for Homecoming and Family Weekend Saturday 2022, October 22 at 8:30 a.m. Tickets can be purchased at https://kwu.vbotickets.com/event date/KWU_Hall_of_Fame_Induction_Ceremony/295132.

Tommy DeSalme was unhappy with his Kansas Wesleyan Coyote basketball team.

Granted, it was early in the 2006-07 season and the vast majority of the schedule was ahead of them. But DeSalme didn’t like what he saw at a practice session Dec. 1, 2006, the day before the Coyotes’ game against defending Kansas Conference champion Southwestern.

“We were practicing and I mean it was practice come to Jesus and I challenged them that night,” said DeSalme, who was in his first season at KWU. “I said, ‘You can be by far the best KCAC team ever, or you can go 13-5 and just go through. I was so mad at them because they were just kind of a ho-hum about how good they can be and I kept challenging them.

His players sensed the frustration and reacted dazzlingly.

“We were out there racing, and eventually they all got mad at me and they kind of got together,” DeSalme said. “From then on, we lost a conference game. It was an incredible group of young men.

This “incredible group” beat Southwestern 79-54 the following night and never looked back. KWU won 22 of its next 23 games, finishing 28-4 overall and 17-1 in the KCAC – the 28 wins a school record. The Coyotes won the KCAC tournament in spectacular fashion, beating Friends 56-55 in the championship in front of a packed crowd inside Muir Gymnasium.

Wesleyan defeated Bluefield College (Virginia) in the NAIA National Tournament before losing to Northwestern (Iowa) in the second round – the loss ending a 19-game winning streak.

The 2006-07 team, arguably the best in KWU history, will be inducted into the Coyote Athletic Hall of Fame on Oct. 22 in ceremonies, fittingly, inside Muir Gym as part of Homecoming 2022. .

Marcus Faubion, a senior guard/forward who was named KCAC Player of the Year that year, recalls the practice.

“It’s good to stay humble, and the message has been received,” he said. “We kept thinking about success and wanted to improve every day.”

DeSalme came to Salina after coaching at Sterling College and quickly resuscitated the program.

“It was an extremely talented team that (coach) Jerry (Jones) left behind when he retired, DeSalme said. “A great group of these guys were coming back and we had some top guys with Anthony (Smith) and Jeff Baron and Marcus.

“After (assistant coach) Donnie (Jackson) and I got there, the first player we added in that first recruiting class was (point guard) Tony Boone, who to date is the fastest point guard I’ve ever seen and athletic as all come out.

DeSalme added depth with the addition of three players he knew – Josh Berry and Cameron Jackson from Sterling and Trey Sims, a highly sought after guard from Tulsa.

“We were doing individual work, especially with Marcus and Jeff Baron (in October) and I saw the competitive streak in both of them and that’s all I really wanted to see,” DeSalme said. “Anthony was the league’s top scorer the year before I arrived and he was so gifted.

“It just took a little while for those guys who knew me to blend in with the returning guys and make them their own team.”

DeSalme, in his second season as a coach at Hutchinson Community College, had one hard and fast rule: play defense or watch from the bench. He installed a man-to-man system, but it took the team some time to adapt after playing in zone defense before.

“We were a great man-to-man team that year once they learned that,” DeSalme said, “just to get them to buy defensively.”

Smith said it was a complete team.

“The combination of attacking and adding DeSalme’s defensive spirit allowed us to see the success we’ve made,” he said. “We got along really well, we used each other’s strengths and we built on those.”

Faubion, a multi-talented guard/striker, was the leader. He averaged 15.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and nearly two assists per game. He was one of four Coyotes who scored in double figures – Smith (13.4), Baron (12.5) and Sims (12.4).

“When your toughest guy is your most talented guy and your most competitive guy, you have something,” DeSalme said of Faubion. “We played him as a four, he was the point guard, he was everything. He is still one of the best players I have ever seen. »

DeSalme vividly remembers the KCAC title match against Friends. The Falcons were the only team to beat KWU during the regular season and the title game was a defensive struggle.

Trailing 55-54 with seconds to go, DeSalme set up a play but Friends had a defensive response. Working for one last shot, the Falcons sent the ball into the backcourt and a wild run ensued.

Sims recovered the loose ball and passed it to Faubion, who was near the basket on the left side. He drove, hitting a defender in the process, and threw an errant shot.

Smith rebounded but his follow-up shot was blocked by the backboard, with the ball heading towards Sims on the left wing. The Sims caught him with his back to the basket, turned around and put the winner of the game when time expired. A wild celebration on the pitch ensued.

“Trey took this thing and passed out, buried it, and fell right into my lap,” DeSalme said. “There’s no reason why we should have won, but we found a way on a night when it was such an ugly game between two legitimate defensive teams. It was a crazy night. »

Faubion said he could have committed an offensive foul on the play.

“It was great defensive play, I’ll say that, but I won’t say it was a charge,” he said with a laugh. “When Anthony missed that I thought that was it. Luckily it went to Trey and he was a pretty nice guy. I couldn’t believe he walked in.

“Team focus and determination, we weren’t going to let this game get away from us and that’s what happened,” Smith said.

Faubion, Smith, Baron and Sims were named All-KCAC First Team while Berry received honorable mention, Henry Rogers was named All-Freshman and DeSalme was Coach of the Year.

“I think it was just the chemistry of the guys,” Faubion said. “We wanted to win and we worked really well together and we all had the same goal. It’s nice to know that all the hard work we put together has led to something quite special.

DeSalme said it’s a season he will always treasure.

“There were a lot of great teams in the KCAC after I left and before, but I think this is the best team I’ve seen since I started in this league,” he said. . “That combination of skill and depth and what they’ve done to get through that gauntlet 20-1, including in the tournament, it’s well deserved. Those players have given me a hell of a ride, and what I am most proud of is that they were all good children.

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