Coyote men’s basketball chosen 5th by coaches, 6th by media
The 2020-21 basketball season did not go the way Anthony Monson had hoped. But it was far from a total loss.
“With COVID, I think we’ve all learned a lot in the past year, a lot of things we probably didn’t want to learn,” Monson said Thursday at the Kansas Conference’s annual preseason media day. “It’s kind of like we had three years in one – we started off really well, a few big wins, and then we had a really bad lull. It seemed like everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.”
The Coyotes haven’t given up, however. An eight-game losing streak was replaced by a five-game winning streak that included the first KCAC tournament victory in 11 years. The season ended with a 64-63 loss to Oklahoma Wesleyan at Bartlesville in the quarterfinals.
“We got it back at the end of the year, we were playing really well. I thought it was by far our best basketball,” said Monson. “We are looking forward to this year trying to build on how we finished last year.”
Three starters and six more who started at least one second leg for last year’s team that finished 12-14 (9-11 KCAC). They are supported by a group of newcomers that includes two red shirts, four junior college transfers and a few talented freshmen.
KCAC coaches selected the Coyotes tied for fifth with McPherson in their preseason poll released Thursday; KWU finished sixth in the media poll. Defending champion Bethel, Oklahoma Wesleyan and Ottawa were the top three in each poll.
Monson said the goal for his sixth season is to replicate the inspired play his team showed at the end of last season.
“We look forward to continuing on the way we finished last year, continuing to take these next steps and seeing what we do,” he said.
It starts with center AJ Range, forward Trey Duffey (SO / Topeka, Kan.) And goalkeeper Easton Hunter (FR / Colwich, Kan.) – the three returning starters. Range is a three-time All-KCAC player while Hunter was named to the All-Freshman squad and was selected with an Honorable Mention in the All-Conference. Duffey sparked the turnaround with his inspired and physical play on the inside.
“I know I feel like (Range) has been in the league forever and probably is. He is still the heart and soul of our team,” said Monson. “(Hunter) is a really good shooter and has had a great summer, he’s improved a lot and is a lot more confident. Duffey has a motor that keeps running. Lots of energy, can turn some bad games into very good things for us. “
Winners Micah Lovett (FR / Tulsa, Okla.), Gabe Mack (JR / Milwaukee, Wis.), Tyus Jeffries (SR / Oklahoma City, Okla.), CJ Weathers (JR / Allen, Texas), Ethan Speer (SR / Salina, Kan.) And Jackson Maupin (FR / Argyle, Texas) are also returning.
The newcomer roster is led by playmaker Jun Murdock (SO / Wichita, Kan.), Who was Friends Freshman of the Year during the 2019-20 season.
“He made a huge difference to us just playing that leadership role,” said Monson. “He does so many good things and is really excited to see him on the floor.”
Murdock was a redshirt at KWU last season with 6-6 goaltender Jake Potthoff (SO / Shawnee Mission, Kan.), A transfer from MidAmerica Nazarene.
“These two guys enjoyed being in the program for a year,” said Monson.
The junior college transfers are guards Cory Kaplan (SO / Merritt Island, Fla.) (McCook), Marcel Dean (SO / Tucson, Ariz) (Pima), Izaiah Hale (FR / Wichita, Kan.) (Hutchinson) and Kevin March (State of Chattanooga).
“Kaplan can really shoot it, he can take it down sometimes – he really knows how to score,” Monson said. “Dean has only played a handful of games but has been very effective. On average, around 19 games per game in the games he’s played, he can really shoot it too.
“Hale is a really good playmaker, he just knows the game and understands it. Can knock down shots and reach for the basket. Mars is an athletic left-handed 6-3 goalie and does things at a different pace and at a different level. of a lot of the guys we have. “
Freshmen of note are forwards Alex Littlejohn (FR / Newton, Kan.) (Wichita Bishop Carroll) and Gabe Phillips (FR / Valley Center, Kan.) (Valley Center). Monson said Littlejohn will see “some pretty significant minutes.”
“He was fantastic and did so many things right,” he said.
The Coyotes open the season against Doane on October 30 in Crete, Neb., Then face Dakota State on November 5 and Clarke on November 6 inside Mabee Arena in the Coyote Classic. The KCAC game kicks off against York on November 17 in York, Neb.
KCAC Men’s Basketball Coaches Survey 2021-22
1. Bethel – 144 (12)
2. Wesleyan Oklahoma – 125
3. Ottawa – 124 (1)
4. Southwest – 111
T5. Kansas Wesleyan – 97
T5. McPherson – 97
7. Friends – 64
8. Thabor – 60
9. Avvila – 58
10. York – 44
11. Saint Mary – 41
12. Bethany – 35
13. Pound sterling – 14
KCAC Men’s Basketball Media Survey 2021-2022
1. Bethel – 242 (16)
2. Wesleyan Oklahoma – 226 (2)
3. Ottawa – 196 (1)
4. McPherson – 184
5. Southwest – 171
6. Kansas Wesleyan – 152
7. Thabor – 115
8. Bethany – 110
9. Friends – 96
10. Avvila – 87
11. York – 62
T12. Sterling – 44
T12. Saint Mary – 44