The Kentucky Wesleyan College Panthers start their 2020-21 men’s hoops season tonight as they host Campbellsville-Harrodsburg at the Sportscenter.
The Panthers and Pioneers tip-off at 7 p.m. but due to Daviess County being a red county, no fans will be allowed. The game will be broadcasted on 94.7 FM WBIO and also at kwcpanthers.com/watch.
KWC coach Drew Cooper and his squad, like other teams across the country, have had to change the way they do things with Covid-19.
“The thing that jumps out is the lack of certainty with anything,” he said. “Practices, games, travel plans … everything is pending negative tests and a team full of players that haven’t been exposed to the virus. I’m very appreciative of all the sacrifices that these kids are making. Thinking back to my college experience, I would have hated being asked to not do some of the things that college kids generally do. So far, our team’s efforts have been successful. I hope to see all of our hard work take shape tomorrow night.”
The Panthers finished 13-16 last season and 9-9 in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.
Cooper said he has high hopes for this season.
“We are in the best position physically and from an experience standpoint that we’ve been in since I arrived two years ago,” he said. “We return 10 players from last year’s team … many of whom made a significant impact last season. This was the first recruiting cycle that we were able to meet specific needs based on who we knew was returning.
“Depth at the guard position and at the power forward position were high priorities. When the ball is tossed up tomorrow night, between knowing my returners and meeting the needs that we met from a recruiting standpoint, I’m more confident than I’ve ever been.”
Hopewell said there are a few players on the roster that locals should take note of this season.
“Wyatt Battaile and Zach Hopewell finished off great last year and have done a great job leading us this preseason.” he said. “Having lost our leading scorer in Adam Goetz, I’m expecting Hopewell and Battaile to take on some of that roll and assertiveness on the offensive side of the ball.
“Newcomers Tre Cobbs and Jamil Wilson will make an impact at the guard position immediately. Both are experienced and ready to make an impact here. In the interior, both Sasha Sukhanov and Ben Sisson are clearly improved and two returners that, like Battaile and Hopewell, should put their player development and experience to great use.”
Cooper said it’s important for his team to have the right mindset, something they may not have had in the past but he added they took a big step forward in that department last season.
“A winning identity,” he said was key. “The expectations of ourselves got higher and higher throughout last season. By the end of the season, our team clearly became ready to win and expected to win when they took to the floor. Coming into this season, our identity and expectations of ourselves are very important.”