Parkland Cobras basketball season preview
Men’s and Women’s teams hold high expectations
Published: Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 12:11
The NBA may be delayed due to a lockout, but the college basketball season is right on schedule. This season is one of the more highly anticipated in recent history for the Cobras with both the men's and women's team receiving top 10 preseason rankings. This is just a minute accomplishment compared to what both of these programs hope to be a very successful 2011-12 campaign.
Parkland men's basketball team lost last year's leading scorer DJ Hoskins (16.2 ppg). Despite that, the Cobras have received the #5 ranking in the nation. The team's next three leading scorers and returning sophomores now will boost their offensive output. Shaquille Lowery, Cody McCollum and Jamel Johnson do not have just offense on their mind. They, with the rest of the returning players, will take the reins of the team as leaders. That experience factor will pay big dividends for head coach Nate Mast's clubs as the freshman learn the college game. Another huge addition for Mast is the transfer Sean Montgomery. Montgomery, a division one level talent, looks to make an immediate impact.
"(The preseason ranking) only raises the bar for what expectations we have for our team," Mast said. "It's hard to get to the top of the polls, but it's even harder to stay there." The Cobras will have a good test ahead of them day in and day out.
The Cobras look to build on not only the successes but failures of a season ago - a season that saw them post a respectable 22-13 record. "It's not just the wins or losses that determine our success," Mast explained. "It's the work we put in both on the court and in the classroom, and the memories we make along the way that will determine how successful this year was for our team."
Building a successful program requires not only tough scheduling, but actually defeating those opponents, which is exactly what Mast plans to do. One of those tough opponents includes rival and current #1 team, Lincoln College. The teams split both meetings a year ago, each game ending in a 10 point margin of victory. With both teams currently ranked in the top 5 nationally, both meetings this year are sure to be epic. The team that can force its style of play on the other will most likely be the victor. The Cobras look to impose their will here and throughout the season.
A few tests will be presented along the way for the Cobras. November 3-5 includes a stretch of 3 games back to back in Hutchinson, KS. After that set of games, the Cobras will travel to Mattoon, Ill., where they will participate in the Lake Land Invitational. Mast's team will also travel to West Burlington, IA in early January to compete in the SE Iowa Tournament. These tournaments are a great way to take the temperature of your team, as they usually have the best competition because of their playoff style nature, an asset Mast will use when the team nears the postseason. "One day at a time, one championship at a time," Mast tells to his players.
Women's head coach Karrie Redeker shares the same luxury as Mast, a top 10 preseason ranking. The Cobras will begin their season as the #9 team in the country. Though a great honor, Redeker doesn't put much stock into it, saying, "the #9 national ranking is a tribute to the success that our 2010-11 team had last year." Redeker knows that this a new season and that number has no bearing on their success. "It is a nice ‘pat on the back' for our program and gets potential recruits' attention when we tell them we are ranked, but otherwise it means nothing more than that," she said.
The team knows that the focus lies on the court. On the court though are only four players from a season ago. None of those include last year's leading scorer Hannah Ohl. Kristyne Smyth, Caitlin Cody, Tenia Singleton and Jeni Free will now be vital in team's success this year. Having a year of experience on the college level and under Redeker's system will hopefully be useful in assisting the nine freshmen in the transition to the college game.
"Our sophomores are doing a great job of leading and trying to teach our new players the expectations of our program, but it has definitely been a learning process and will continue to be for quite some time," Redeker said.
Following up a team with a record of 34-3 the previous season is no easy task. Even with a freshman laden club, expectations still remain high. "We will strive to win at least 20 games and do well in our regular season conference and region games," Redeker said. A huge factor in reaching that goal will be the number of home games the Cobras host - 15 in all. They must perform well against top level competition to reach their potential. One of those top level opponents includes current #10 Kankakee, an opponent they will face twice this year.
The Cobras will take every challenge in stride. "Our mindset is truly to take one day at a time," Redeker said. "Every day we need to give great effort in practice and work hard to be better than we were the day before. If we can do that and get a little lucky along the way, we can put ourselves in position to have success."