Previewing UAFS Basketball 2022-23 Season Opener
This Friday, November 11th, the UAFS Lions men's basketball season tips off against Black Hills State University Yellow Jackets in the Lone Star vs. Rocky Mountain Challenge. The two teams will meet up against each other for the third time in school history. The series is currently split with the Yellow Jackets coming out on top last year with a score of 62-77.
The Lions finished off last year notching a 14-13 record in Coach Jim Boone’s 3rd season. He’ll look to take the team to the next step as he seeks his first tournament appearance since coming to UAFS in 2019. The 2021-22 season saw the Lions fall in one or two score games multiple times, including a 51-57 loss at Lubbock who was ranked first in the nation at the time.
The Lions are going into the 2022-23 season with the expectations being simple, as junior Evan Anderson says it’s “to be the best team we can be.” He added that while he wants to get his first win in the Lone Star Conference tournament, the obvious goal is to win it and head to the NCAA Division 2 tournament. The expectation for the season is to build on what the program has going and improve day by day and practice by practice.
The Lions are coming into the season without Matthew Wilson and Chris “CJ” Rollins, both of whom played big roles last season. The team will be looking to replace their production after a season where Wilson led the conference in scoring, averaging 20 points per game, while Rollins added another 13.5 to go with 7 rebounds a game.
While coach Boone added that it’s tough to replace them with any one player, he praised the experience that the team has to help replace their roles during the Lone Star Conference Media Day.
Coach Boone says he’s looking for senior Courtney Murrell and junior Evan Anderson to step up, saying “they’re two of the most fiercest competitors that I’ve had an opportunity to coach in quite some time.”
Coach Boone notes that Drew Miller, David Ekezie, and Cameron Bush are three players that seem to be flying under the radar. Miller finished the season starting for an injured Anderson where he added double digit points in four of the final five games.
Boone added that “we’re deeper than we’ve ever been, we’re more experienced than we’ve ever been, and as a group we’re more talented than we’ve ever been.”
During the players interview, senior
Daryl McElrath commented on redshirt freshman Andrew Iyamah stepping up during practice.
The game will be a big challenge for the Lions as the Yellow Jackets are headed into the season ranked as the number 10 and are coming off a season in which they not only won the Rocky Mountain Conference, but also advanced all the way to the Final Four in the NCAA division 2 Tournament.
The Yellow Jackets also return All-American forward Joel Scott who has racked up quite the accomplishments in his first two seasons of collegiate basketball including a conference player of the year as well as becoming the first Yellow Jacket to be named an NCAA All-American.
While this will make it a tough challenge for the Lions, senior Courtney Murrell says the key is “to make sure we focus locked into the details, knowing what we’ve got to do personal and schemes.”
Boone is excited to start the season off with a matchup against Black Hills State which he expects to learn the strengths and weaknesses of his team.
The game will be set to play on a neutral site in Edmond, Oklahoma followed by a game against Metropolitan State to finish off the challenge before heading home to host University of the Ozarks. Tip off will be 5:30 pm Friday with a 2 pm tip Saturday afternoon. It’s available to watch with a subscription of the Lone Star Conference digital network.
The first home game will be held Thursday November 17th against University of the Ozarks with free admission with your student ID.