After five consecutive Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference championships, two straight trips to the National Junior College Athletic Association national championship, including a trip to the Final Four for the fourth time for the Connors State Cowboys…..You ask what is left for head coach Bill Muse.
Answer….. All the above plus two other accomplishments for Muse, a trip to the NJCAA National Championship game and the National Title, the last in 1990 under for head coach Ed Stepp.
Connors begins its quest next Thursday, Nov. 1 at Melvin Self Field House at 7 p.m. when they play host to Central Baptist College.
In order for the 2018-19 Cowboys to reach their goal they must do it without any returning starters from last season's 31-4 squad.
What Muse does return are three players who saw playing time, sophomore Burke Putnam, 6-3 guard from Tulsa, Okla.; Terrance Jones, 6-4 guard from Cedar Hill, Texas and Marvin Lowe, 6-7 forward from Tulsa, Okla.
"Jones has played the most among are returnees," said Muse. "He is a big wing that can play inside and outside.
"He played very well in the national tournament and we expect him to have a very good year."
Putnam is competing for the off-guard starting position, according to Muse.
"Burke has improved in the off season, but in order for us to have a successful season he has to have a solid year at the two guard position," said Muse.
Lowe, who played a backup role a year ago in the post position, but didn't see a lot of playing time. According to Muse when he did get playing time he showed signs of becoming a "good player."
Joining the Cowboys roster this season are four transfers, sophomore Elijah Landrum, 6-0 guard from Tulsa, a transfer from SMU. Issiah Jones 6-8 sophomore post from Phoenix, Ariz., a transfer from Biola University; Callen Haydon, 6-0 redshirt freshman from El Reno a transfer from Western Texas Junior College and Tyrees Sidberry 6-8 sophomore from West Valley City, Utah, a transfer from Western Wyoming Junior College.
Landrum, who played at Central High School, was the second best player in high school coming out of his class in the state. He signed with SMU, and started 16 games for the Mustangs in the American Athletic Conference.
"He gained a lot of experience on the Division I level, but decided it wasn't the right program from him and came here," said Muse. "He's a point guard that is strong, talented that can score. I am anticipating a very strong year from him."
Sidberry is a left-handed post player who according to Muse is "athletic, strong leaper and plays extremely hard."
Jones who played at Division II Biola University in California came to Connors to "up grade his stock and he knew the best way was to come to a junior college to give him a chance to play at the Division I level," said Muse.
Hayden came to Connors last Christmas after sustaining a knee problem at Western Texas. He did not play at the Texas school and has two years of eligibility.
"He can play either guard spot and is another guy that plays extremely hard. He knows how to score and plays excellent defense. So our guard position is going to be pretty strong," said Muse.
Freshman newcomers include 6-3 guard Caleb Riggs from Okay, Okla., Jordan Graham, 6-3, guard from Farmington, Mich., Daylon Tanksley, 6-6 forward from Fort Worth, Texas, Jacob Armstrong, 6-0 guard from Muldrow, Okla. And Cedrick Jones II 6-2 guard from New Orleans, La.
Riggs won two state titles at Okay and attended Lang Prep school last season. "He will compete for a two guard slot and can play either wing position" said Muse.
Graham is also a prep school player at Tennessee Prep in Memphis. "He averaged in double figures. Graham is long; athletic that can play inside and out. But he needs to gain strength and experience. Once he does that he will be a very good player."
Tanksley is a surprise, according to Muse. "He is very athletic, plays hard, but needs experience and strength. Tanksley is an excellent offensive rebounder, who knows how to score and runs the floor very well."
Armstrong played on a state championship team at Red Oak, "but needs to add strength. Hopefully he can give us some minutes off the bench," said Muse.
Despite a young and a rebuilding squad, Muse has high expectations from this squad.
"We are young and no returning starters, but with Terrance Jones having played the most minutes coming back it helps. It's a talented team that must play together," said Muse.
"Is the chemistry going to be right, are they going to play unselfishly and are they going to stay healthy".
"If we do all those things we could become a pretty good basketball team," said Muse.
The Cowboys will enter the season, as in the past with a bulls-eye on their back with five consecutive OCAC titles in going for No. 6 under Muse.