Morthland College men's, women's basketball teams ready for new season
The Morthland College men’s basketball team, coming off a championship season, is poised to have another strong year.
Although the Patriots will no longer be playing with all-time leading scorer Will Carmickle, head coach Rich Herrin told SW Illinois News that he thinks the team will still make some waves, and he even considers them likely to earn a bid to the NCCAA tournament.
Although the team is returning four of last year’s starters, Herrin said he believes the person who will have the biggest immediate impact will be forward Aaron Rushing. Herrin said the 6-foot-8 junior will provide the small team with some much-needed interior defense and rebounding.
“He’s a big-time player,” Herrin said. “He made the all-tournament team last year.”
Having such a small team, the Patriots will rely on their quickness and athleticism to compete with some of the tougher opponents that are on the schedule this season, such as Webster and Robert Morris.
“We’ll have an exciting team,” Herrin said. “We’re going to be able to run a lot and shoot the ball well.”
The biggest hindrance Herrin’s squad will face this season will be its shallow roster of only nine players. But despite the lack of depth, the sixth-year coach is confident that his team will be able to make some waves again this year.
“We think we’ll have a very good basketball team," Herrin said. "We’re a bit short on numbers, but we will still be very good.”
The men’s team will begin its season against Concordia Seminary-St. Louis at home in West Frankfort.
Morthland College’s inexperienced women’s basketball team seems to be in a constant state of flux, but should see some major improvements this year and may even have the opportunity to make a name for itself in the NCCAA.
Patriots head coach Drew Smith told SW Illinois News that although his team is only returning two players — and only one who played all of last season — he thinks the team is bringing on some great new talent that is transferring in from other schools.
However, Smith said the team will likely be hindered by having so many new players.
“It’s a big challenge,” Smith said. “We don’t have chemistry yet because of that.”
Additionally, Smith said that it can be tough to get everyone on board with what he is trying to do with the program when there is so little experience on the team.
“The biggest challenge is creating an environment where we’ve established expectations,” Smith said.
But the good news is that some of the players Smith is bringing in to bolster his roster are talented athletes from more established programs.
Smith said one transfer, Kendra Patterson from Paducah, will be one of those players who will make an immediate impact.
“She’s a phenomenal player and a person with a great work ethic,” Smith said.
Two other players he specifically talked about were Meranda Chance from Southeastern Illinois College, whom he called really quick and athletic, and “athletic post player” Chelsea Gordon from Wabash.
Smith also said one thing fans can expect to see is rapid improvement.
“It’s a good group of girls,” Smith said. “We are going to progress faster than a lot of teams because we’re new. There will be some growing pains, but we will get better fast.”
Although Smith said he can’t highlight any one game as being crucial for the program, he said the most highly anticipated game of the season will clearly be the opener. He said his team just wants to get out and play.
“They have the itch," Smith said.
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202 E Oak St
West Frankfort, IL 62896