The box score showed a 67-46 Arkansas Tech University victory over the University of the Ozarks, but the Wonder Boys were not the biggest winners at Tucker Coliseum on Monday.
That distinction belonged to the approximately 900 elementary school students from Dardanelle, Dover and Pottsville who attended the game as part of a Kids’ Day Out event hosted by the ATU Department of Athletics.
“It was really cool,” said Mark Downey, ATU head men’s basketball coach. “To see them get excited and see the building filled up a little bit…that’s what we want to get to. If you are a mom or dad at home and your little boy or girl came to the game today, bring them back. Bring the whole family. Our group is fun to watch and we’re getting better and better. This was a great experience for everyone.”
Monday’s win marked the conclusion of pre-conference preparation for Arkansas Tech basketball. The Wonder Boys and the Golden Suns will host the University of Arkansas-Monticello for a 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Great American Conference doubleheader at Tucker Coliseum on Thursday, Dec. 1, before traveling to Arkadelphia to face Ouachita Baptist University at 1 and 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3.
Live coverage of all four games will be available on KCJC 102.3 FM and www.arkansastechsports.com.
The Golden Suns (2-2) got a preview of the speed at which opponents will play for much of the rest of the season on Sunday when they faced Christian Brothers University in their final non-conference game. The Lady Buccaneers, who are picked to finish top five in the Gulf South Conference this season, defeated ATU’s women 76-65.
“We’ve just got to get better,” said Dave Wilbers, ATU head women’s basketball coach. “It’s a learning thing. At times we did a good job attacking the zone, and at times we were too passive. I think we have the players in the right spots. We just have to make plays and play with the level of speed we saw from Christian Brothers.”
For the Wonder Boys (2-4), improved perimeter shooting will be a point of emphasis as GAC play begins. Arkansas Tech was 4-of-31 from 3-point range against Ozarks on Monday. The Wonder Boys rank last in the league in 3-point field goal percentage and 3-point field goals made so far this season.
“I want some of our guys who are considered shooters to step up and start making shots,” said Downey. “We’re not telling them not to shoot and we’re not putting any pressure on them. In fact, half the time I’m telling the guys to shoot it because they are passing up shots. I always reference one of my mentors, Coach (Bob) Huggins. He says that basketball is like your girlfriend. If you neglect it and don’t show it some love by getting in the gym and getting shots up, she’s not going to be happy with you. That’s what these guys have to do. We’ve got to get in the gym and work harder.”
Talk to you on the radio.
Tech Tidbits is a column written by Sam Strasner, ATU director of university relations and radio play-by-play voice for ATU football and basketball.