Tech Tidbits: Downey Emphasizes Maturity

Ashlei Lopez and Cejay Mann 2021
Ashlei Lopez (left) and Cejay Mann (right) are both in their second season with the Arkansas Tech University basketball programs.

Arkansas Tech University’s men’s basketball team has played three games in the last two weeks that came down to one possession in the final minute.

The Wonder Boys (3-4 overall, 1-1 Great American Conference) lost all three of those contests (sandwiched around a 72-54 win over Ouachita Baptist University).

With the promise of more tight games in the near future, ATU men’s basketball head coach Mark Downey knows his team must become comfortable in uncomfortable situations.

“I’m trying to get these guys to understand how important every possession is and how important it is to be ready to play,” said Downey after a 58-55 loss at the University of Arkansas-Monticello on Saturday. “We’re just not there yet. We’re not mature enough yet to win a game like that. We’ll keep fighting and keep going after it. Winning on the road is hard. We’re just not mature enough yet to do it.”

Arkansas Tech will get another road test Saturday, Dec. 11, when it visits Henderson State University in Arkadelphia.

HSU’s men (5-2, 2-0) have won three consecutive games. All three were decided by four points or less. The Reddies are 9-1 against the Wonder Boys in their last 10 meetings.

Game times at the Duke Wells Center are 1 p.m. (women’s) and 3 p.m. (men’s). Live coverage will be provided by KCJC 102.3 FM and

It only took two playing dates for 10 of the 12 Great American Conference women’s basketball teams to accumulate at least one league loss.

Even though his team made it through the opening week of GAC play unscathed, Dave Wilbers believes the 22-game conference schedule will be a supreme challenge.

“Somebody said the other day the winner of the league may have four or five losses, and I truly believe that this year,” said Wilbers, who is in his 15th season as ATU women’s basketball head coach. “There are just a lot better players in our league now, and better coaching too. The years of playing games in the 50s in our league are probably over, so we better have some scorers. Luckily, we have some on our team.”

The Golden Suns (5-2, 2-0) are tied with nationally 21st-ranked Southwestern Oklahoma State University (8-2, 2-0) for the early lead in the GAC women’s basketball standings.

Remaining undefeated in league play will require Arkansas Tech to do something it hasn’t done since Feb. 18, 2017: win a road women’s basketball game at Henderson State.

The Reddies (5-2, 1-1) rank second in GAC women’s basketball in scoring offense (81.6 points per game) and field goal percentage (.442). HSU’s women are 2-0 at the Duke Wells Center this season and they are 39-11 at home since the beginning of the 2017-18 season, including four consecutive home wins over the Golden Suns.

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.