Mens basketball is ready for a new year and with this new year comes a new coach with new ideas and goals for the team.
Sundance Wicks is that new coach, and chances are you already know who he is.
Upon coming to Western, he’s already gained a respect from both the school and his players.
Junior small forward Beau Baker has been impressed with Wicks so far this season.
“Coach Wicks has helped us a lot, and he’s been hard on us, but it’s forced us to be more critical of ourselves,” Baker said. “We’re only seven practices in, and he’s shown the type of coach he is.”
Along with a new coach, there was also an influx of new players that Wicks was happy to talk about.
“When evaluating our needs for this incoming class, we knew we were looking for OKGs (Our Kind of Guys). For us, an OKG is a guy who brings juice every day, has a high-level of skill and an unmatched level of toughness,” Wicks said. “It’s our philosophy that players play, but tough players win. If you look back over the course of time, you’ll see the game honors toughness.”
There are eight new players on this roster, and Wicks has been impressed specifically with a few of them.
“Tyrell (Carroll) has shown already to have the toughness I look for and signs of leadership.” Wicks said. “And, Tyree Martin has been banged up every day by Big Tony (Tony Chukwuemeke), and he’s getting tougher and tougher every day.”
Along with the eight new players, there are six returners- three seniors, two juniors and a redshirt freshman. With four new players not coming in as freshman, but as sophomores and juniors.
After last year, going 6-21 that’s not how the team wanted the season to go, but Baker thinks that this year will be better.
“I think when people see us in our first game, they’ll be surprised,” Baker said. “We’re a competitive good team, and we’ll prove it on the court.”
Wicks echoed the sentiments of his junior forward.
“People will see how tough we are, how competitive we are, we have the school and the community behind us, and we don’t accept anything less than 100%,” Wicks said. “100% is the minimum amount of effort you can bring to a practice, a conditioning or a game.”
The community is behind this team and the writing is on the walls, literally. The Looney complex has been renovated with money from fundraising and donors. This helped the walls get repainted, new seating and new locker rooms.
It was not all fun in those locker rooms recently though.
Last week, the team got kicked out of their locker rooms because of a lack of effort during the final conditioning day.
“I had planned on taking them out to eat, celebrate the day, but they didn’t bring 100% of their effort, and I don’t accept that,” Wicks said. “Conditioning, practice, anything shouldn’t be a bad thing. It helps you grow as a person and a ball player, and I think the guys know that now.”
Although that happened, Wicks is certain that his players know what he expects them to bring.
“This is a team that’s resilient, and they want the best for everyone, every single player, and they’re together,” Wicks said.
Baker would then echo the sentiment of his head coach.
“I think the fans will see how together we are, and they wouldn’t think that we’ve only been practicing together for 58 days now,” Baker said. “This team already has great chemistry, and I can’t wait for the first game.”
Their first game is Nov. 3rd in the St. Joseph Civic Arena at 5:30 P.M. against Tarleton State University.