OKLAHOMA CITY (Oct. 14, 2012) – It’s quite likely the anticipation surrounding the start of an Oklahoma Christian men’s basketball season hasn’t been this high in more than a decade.
The Eagles, who will play this season in the Heartland Conference, will begin preseason practices on Monday, the first day allowed by NCAA rules.
OC returns its top nine players off a team that went 20-13 last season but caught fire late, sweeping three ranked teams in three days en route to the Sooner Athletic Conference tournament title, then giving eventual NAIA Division I champion Concordia (Calif.) its sternest challenge at the national tournament before falling in the first round.
OC won’t compete in the NAIA this season, but the Eagles would seem to have a legitimate shot at the NCCAA crown if they can keep the momentum going from March. On paper, coach Dan Hays – entering his 30th season at OC – should have one of his best teams ever. He said waiting for the start of practice has been difficult for him.
“We are ready to teach and learn,” Hays said. “It has been the longest pre-season in my coaching career. Let the hoops begin!”
OC’s entire starting lineup – Derek Johnson, Will Reinke, Kendre Talley, Brandon Troutman and Devan White – is back, along with key reserves Josh Faurot, Willie Harper, Eric Randall and Nick Tate. The Eagles will play a primarily NCAA Division II schedule this season as the university starts the Division II membership process and will be eligible for Heartland Conference awards, but not the conference title.
The Eagles will open their season Nov. 3 at home against Central Bible (Mo.).