Just because the men’s team lost its head coach and one of its greatest-ever all-around players, and the women lost three starters who in the last two seasons helped the Wildcats to a combined record of 50-11, don’t expect there to be much dropoff in either ACU basketball program. For the first time since 1987, the men’s team made it to a regional tournament and came within one win of the national tournament, losing to eventual national semifinalist Truman State (Mo.), 76-69, in the region final. The Wildcats finished the season 21-8 and ranked ninth in the nation.
This season, under new head coach Mike Martin (who takes over for the departed Shanon Hays), the Wildcats should once again contend for a spot in the region tournament, this time behind a player who has the potential to be one of the most dominant in Division II basketball – forward Peter Kiganya, who should take up the slack for the departed Jared Mosley (’99).
“Peter’s going to have a great year for us,” Martin said. “He’s worked hard over the summer, and if he continues to improve the way he did last year he’ll be one of the best players in the country.”
Last season, the women’s team reached the south central region tournament for the sixth year in a row after winning its second consecutive LSC post-season tournament championship.
And the Wildcats will return the heart of that successful team.
Three starters – senior Jackie Bucher, senior forward Emily Berry and junior point guard Ashley Gray – return from a team that finished 24-7 in 1998-99. They should lead the attack for the Wildcats, who will have to make up for the loss of seniors Farrah Frantz (’99), Jill Kurschner (’99) and Amber Tate (’99).
“With that nucleus – as well as the rest our returning players – we feel like we’ll have a very strong, experienced team,” head coach Wayne Williams (’79) said. “We’ve obviously established some high standards for ourselves. This year we want to raise the bar on those expectations, and this is the team that can do that.”