After traveling deep into the heart of Texas last year to open its season, the Chadron State College men’s basketball team will host those opponents while inaugurating its 2018-19 schedule this weekend.
The Texans won both games a year ago. Texas A&M International, located at Laredo, took a 72-64 decision in the first game and Texas AM-Kingsville won by a 95-63 score the next day, when both teams hit 52.3 percent of their field goal shots, but Kingsville took 65 shots and CSC just 44.
The Eagles had 28 turnovers and the Javalinas only 14 in the latter game.
International will be the Eagles’ opening opponent Friday night and Kingsville will visit the Chicoine Center Saturday night. Both games will tip off at 6 o’clock.
International finished 11-18 a year ago. Kingsville went 12-16. The Eagles won just three times in 28 starts.
CSC coach Houston Reed believes his team is vastly improved this year, but the absence of junior transfer Colby Jackson, expected to be the starting point guard, hurts. He suffered a broken hand about two weeks ago and is likely to miss nearly all of the six games on the schedule this month.
There is some good news concerning another injured player. Junior Jordan Mills, the former Alliance High standout who averaged eight points for the Eagles a year ago, has pretty well overcome the hamstring issues that sidelined him during much of the preseason.
Five seniors–three of them back from a year ago and the other two transfers–are being counted on to lead the way as the season opens.
The returnees are guard Jaisean Jackson, last year’s point guard and the team’s leading scorer at 12.5 points a game; forward Jeremy Ruffin, who averaged 8.9 points and 6.9 rebounds; and 6-7 center Adoum Mbang, who played in only half the games last season after returning to his home in Cameroon for nearly a month and then having to catch up on his studies.
The seniors who have joined the Eagles played for Division I teams last season.
Charles (Chuck) Gavin, a 6-8, 240-pound center, played for Reed at Otero Junior College at LaJunta, Colo., before spending last season at Western Illinois, and Diontae Champion, 6-6, 180, played at North Platte Community College, where he was Mills’ roommate, before attending the University of New Orleans last winter.
Reed said the addition of Gavin and the improvement by Mbang, who remained in Chadron and worked on his game this summer, definitely make the Eagles stronger at the post position. Redshirt freshman Jacob Jefferson also has lots of promise in the forecourt.
Now the coach is hoping that outside shooters such as Jaisean Jackson, junior Michael Sparks, who missed last season because of an injury, sophomore transfer Brady Delimont of Ainsworth and freshman Trey Hladky, all of whom have exceptional credentials, will start connecting.
The Eagles were cold from long range in their exhibition games with Gillette College and Weber State. But hopefully now that the “real season” is here, that will change.
International opens its season with numerous new names on its rosters. Among International’s top player is 6-foot-4 Xabier Gomez, a native of Spain, who averaged 11.1 points last season and scored 11 against the Eagles.
Kingsville has more veterans available. They include 6-2 Jacolby Harris, who scored 16 points, and 6-6 Kyren Block, who tallied 13 points and grabbed six rebounds against CSC last year. Elton Dyer, 6-4, added six points for the Javalinas. All three are seniors.
Reed has invited former CSC basketball players to return to the campus this weekend to watch the season-openers. About a dozen are expected to attend at least one of the games.
There are two more games awaiting the Eagles next week. They will play at Augustana in Sioux Falls, S.D., at 7 p.m. Tuesday and host Nebraska-Kearney at 6 p.m. Thursday.