Our 2021-22 Arkansas Tech University athletics journey will reach a transition point on Saturday, Nov. 13, when football season concludes and basketball season begins.
The 106th season of Arkansas Tech football will end with a Great American Conference contest against nationally seventh-ranked Harding University. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field.
The Wonder Boys (4-6) have won four of their last six games, while the Bisons (9-1) are on an eight-game winning streak. Harding leads all of NCAA — Divisions I, II and III — in rushing offense (403 yards per game) and rushing touchdowns (53) this season.
“I think our guys believe we can play with anybody, and I do too,” said Kyle Shipp, who is concluding his second season as ATU football head coach. “After seeing us compete against Ouachita, Henderson and getting that win against Oklahoma Baptist, it gave our guys the confidence to say that we’re better than people think and we’ve continued to show that. I think we’ll come out fired up and ready to go. I don’t think we’ll give in an inch. (Harding) might get some points here and there, but our guys will fight until the very last second and no matter what happens I’m going to be proud of them.”
A few minutes after time expires on the Arkansas Tech football season on Saturday evening, the Wonder Boys will begin Arkansas Tech’s 99th men’s basketball season with a 5:30 p.m. non-conference contest at Fort Hays State University (Kan.).
The Wonder Boys’ trip to the Sunflower State will also include a game against Emporia State University at 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 14.
Cejay Mann, the 2021 GAC freshman of the year, and Tony Hall, ATU’s leading scorer last season, are among 11 returning lettermen for the Wonder Boys.
“We’re a lot further ahead than we were this time last year,” said Mark Downey, who is beginning the second season of his second stint as ATU men’s basketball head coach. “Everybody was new last year. Just to have six or seven guys back who played quite a few minutes has helped us so much with culture. We talk about being every day guys and I think those guys understand that now.”
Monday, Nov. 15, will bring the dawn of the 45th season of Golden Suns basketball. Arkansas Tech’s women will host Champion Christian College for a 5:30 p.m. game at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville.
With four starters back from a team that went 14-2 overall, won a regular season conference title and earned a bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament last season, the Golden Suns were among the teams receiving votes in the 2021-22 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association preseason top 25 poll.
“Our returnees have done a fantastic job of developing our culture with the new players,” said Dave Wilbers, who is beginning his 15th season as ATU women’s basketball head coach. “It’s one of the first years I’ve ever had when the players have done a lot of coaching, and everyone has been very receptive. It’s been a great preseason as far as our leadership. We’re way ahead of where we’ve been the last four or five years because of it.”
Live coverage of all the games mentioned above will be provided by radio station 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.