Basketball Preview

Pirate Basketball Preview

            The Park University men’s and women’s basketball teams look to come back from a tough season last year. The women’s team finished with a record of (8-19) (8-16 AMC) and missed the American Midwest Conference tournament. The men’s team finished the 2017-18 season (12-14) (9-13 AMC) and also missed the American Midwest Conference tournament.

In his ninth season as head coach of the women’s team, Norman Kenneth Cooper, Jr., brought in 14 recruits and has five core returners. Of the 14 recruits, Sarah Lamp and Kennedy Kuykendall made All-Region teams and Kuykendall also received All-Conference honors.

Returning five core starters is a big key for this season, according to Cooper.

“Knowing the system and helping the new recruits understand who I am as a coach will be a great help from the returners,” he said.

Players coming in will learn how different Park might be from their past teams. Cooper plays a hard man-to-man defense and uses full court presses.

“Our defense is looking a lot better than the beginning of practice, and our offense is looking great,” Cooper said.

Defense is going to be their backbone all season long. The team has told Cooper they want to win the AMC tournament and make it to nationals.

“I’ve never had a team that has come to me and told me to push them to get to where they can reach their goals,” he said. “This team is going to be special to watch and see them grow as a team.”

The Pirates began their season on Nov. 3 at home against Evangel University. They lost a close game, 62-60. The women started the game with a scoring hot streak, leading by as much as 12 in the first quarter. However, the Crusaders were up 34-25 at halftime. The Pirates battled back in the second half of the game, but with 28 turnovers they couldn’t overcome the deficit.

The Pirate men’s team is led by head coach Jason Kline, who is in his 13th season. He will be returning seven core players.

“We don’t have a lot of experience coming back, but the core seven will be able to help lead this team with knowing how things work in the system,” said Kline. “Having new recruits at the beginning of the season is always difficult; they have to learn the new system and how it works.”

With these returners, Kline is hoping the recruits will catch on just as quickly as the returners do.

To start the season off, the men’s team will be facing three top 25 ranked teams in the nation.

“Having these three tough games to start the season means that we have to learn and become stronger as a team quicker,” Kline said.

These matchups will also help the team to see what they need to work on and get better at as the season goes on. All the experience from these tough games will become key elements in trying to win the AMC and making it to nationals.

Kline said he had one goal for this season: to get better every time the team walks on the court, whether it is for practice or for a game.

The men began their season on Nov. 1 in the MidAmerica Nazarene University Tipoff Classic. They lost to 11th ranked Central Methodist University, 78-70 on Nov. 1 and lost to MidAmerica Nazarene University, ranked 19th, on Nov. 2 with a score of 76-67.