Editor’s Note: Image by Scott Burkhalter, provided by the UMHB Athletics Department
BELTON, Texas- Conference play is finally here for the UMHB men’s basketball team, as last week’s games were both postponed/canceled due to Covid precautions in the UT Dallas and Ozarks programs. Now, the Cru will look ahead to its conference opener, set to tip-off Thursday in Belton. Hear from head coach Clif Carroll, check out our projected lineup, and read all you need to know about both of this week’s games in the “Coach’s Clipboard”.
Quotes from head coach Clif Carroll
On scheduling games so quick after last week’s conference games were canceled: “That’s where having good relationships with coaches around the league and the state of Texas [benefits us]. Within an hour, we can probably put together two games pretty easily. That’s one of the good things about being around college basketball in the state of Texas for as long as I have.”
On how last week’s extra non-conference games prepared them: “Both of these teams put a lot of pressure against us. As a team, we struggle with turnovers, we struggle with handling the ball, and with playing as many young guys as we do, we make some mistakes. We knew Concordia in particular was going to put a lot of pressure on our team. As much as you try to prepare them, we had one full day of practice and a walkthrough. I can go through a Concordia game in my head, because I’ve done it so many times. It’s the same song every time. As much as you can tell them, they have to see it for themselves.”
On Gibson Hearne and Ryan Hartman, two freshmen who played significant minutes against Midwestern State: “Gibson is a kid that I value what he does. He’s not real flashy. He comes from a great basketball family. His granddad is one of all-time great small college coaches in west Texas, his dad is a great high school coach [at Cisco]. He’s going to do whatever it takes to win. He plays with extreme effort and confidence. As a freshman, it is hard to play big minutes. He has definitely earned it. Ryan has been up and down, like you’d expect a freshman to be. He has great size. We have to keep working with him, and I think Ryan is going to turn into a great player before it is all said and done.”
Projected Starting Lineup
PG- Josiah Johnson, Sophomore- 31.7 PPG*, 2.8 APG, 7.7 RPG
G-Kyle Wright, Sophomore- 11.0 PPG, 1.0 APG, 5.3 RPG
G- Carson Hammond, Junior- 11.5 PPG, 5.0 APG*, 5.5 RPG
F- Sam Reaves, Sophomore- 1.8 PPG, 0.8 APG, 4.4 RPG
F- Aedan Welch, Senior- 10.3 PPG, 4.0 APG, 9.0 RPG*
About the opponent: Louisiana College
Date: January 14
Time: 6 p.m.
Place: Belton, Texas (Mayborn Campus Center)
- Louisiana College is coming off perhaps its best week of the season, as the Wildcats went 2-0 in the first week of conference play, defeating Howard Payne 72-51, and Sul Ross State, 79-73. Head coach Reni Mason was named the National Coach of the Week by HoopDirt, an honor Carroll was awarded on November 30.
- Louisiana College runs a pressing defense, similar to Concordia, so expect a fast-paced game.
- Look for Kae’ron Baker to have a big game in Belton. The senior guard from Navosata, Texas “loves coming back to Texas” according to Carroll and should go head-to-head against the nation’s leading scorer in UMHB’s Josiah Johnson. Baker was named the ASC East Division Co-Player of the Week after his performance last week.
- This will be LC’s final year in D3 and in the ASC. Beginning in the fall of 2021, the college will become an NAIA program, with the basketball teams competing in the Red River Athletic Conference.
About the opponent: Belhaven
Date: January 16
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Place: Belton, Texas (Mayborn Campus Center)
- This will be Belhaven’s longest road trip of the season, as the Jackson, Mississippi university will travel over 490 miles to reach Belton. The Blazers will also face Concordia (TX) in Austin Thursday. The game was originally scheduled for 3 p.m. but “in order to help accommodate Belhaven’s travel plans” the start time was pushed back to 5 p.m.
- 2-1 on the season, the Blazers recently defeated Sul Ross State to open ASC play, edging the Lobos 79-77.
- Belhaven has one of the largest rosters in the ASC, with 27 players listed on the roster. Not all of them travel, however, and in certain instances like the exhibition the Blazers played against Covenant College, only eight players dressed out.
- Matthew McMillan will be the name to know, as the sophomore guard is averaging 14 points and 2.6 assists per game. In the exhibition mentioned above, McMillan scored 40 points, though it did not count towards the team’s official stats.
- Look for Belhaven to play a zone defense, and likely give the Cru plenty of three point opportunities.