If you were around from about 2009-17, you recall the most recent period when both Arkansas Tech University basketball teams were consistently at the top of the conference standings.
It was a great time for our university. It brought our community together in support of our teams. It was as much fun as I’ve ever had as a basketball fan, and I know several folks who feel the same way.
This week provides the Golden Suns and the Wonder Boys with an opportunity to re-establish their swagger in the Great American Conference, and you can help through your attendance and support for ATU.
Both ATU teams are one game out of first place in the league standings. On Thursday, Jan. 12, the Golden Suns (7-3 overall, 5-1 GAC) and the Wonder Boys (7-5, 5-1) will host Southern Nazarene University. Both Crimson Storm teams are undefeated in GAC play and riding eight-game winning streaks.
Game times on Thursday are 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Kids wearing a youth sports jersey will gain free admission on Thursday with a paid adult.
ATU’s opponent on Saturday, Jan. 14, will be Oklahoma Baptist University. The Bison women enter this week undefeated in league play, while the Bison men have reached the NCAA Tournament two of the last three seasons and enter the week 4-2 in the GAC.
Game times at the coliseum on Saturday are 1 and 3 p.m. It will be Banker Appreciation Day. All local bank employees will gain free admission.
Tickets ($5 adults, $3 students) are available now at www.arkansastechsports.com/tickets.
The Golden Suns rank second in the GAC in scoring offense (75.3 points per game) and lead the league in field goal percentage defense (.343).
“Our posts are doing a really good job running the floor,” said Dave Wilbers, ATU head women’s basketball coach, following the Golden Suns’ 87-59 win at East Central University on Saturday. “We need our transition game, and Claudia (Bridges) has had a big spurt pushing the basketball in the third quarter all season long. Jaki (Rollins) is doing a good job pushing the basketball, too. When those two are doing that, it opens up our game.
“This team has done a really good job of taking it one day at a time,” continued Wilbers. “We don’t look too far ahead. Everybody is good in this league. It will be nice to be at home, and it’s good for the players to get back into the routine of school.”
The Wonder Boys are top two in the GAC in scoring defense (64.4 points allowed per game), field goal percentage defense (.401) and turnover margin (+3.58 per game). ATU’s men finished with a 13-0 edge in second-chance points during their 68-60 victory at ECU on Saturday.
“We made a lot of mistakes, but we made some free throws at the end and took care of the basketball pretty well against (ECU’s) pressure,” said Mark Downey, who became the fourth ATU head men’s basketball coach to reach 100 victories during last week’s road trip to Oklahoma. “The guys who are getting shots…they are going to start making them, and when they do, our offense is going to start rolling.
“We’re playing for the No. 1 spot,” continued Downey when asked about the SNU game on Thursday. “That’s where we’ve wanted to be. We’ve got to go be the hunter. (SNU) is really good. I like our group. We just have to keep playing with a chip on our shoulder, keep defending and the ball’s going to go in the basket more.”
Live coverage of all four games this week will be available on KCJC 102.3 FM and www.arkansastechsports.com.
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.