The Central Bronchos are getting for their debut season in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association and are excited to be in a conference once again, even if it is one of the toughest conferences in the country.
Head coach Guy Hardaker said that he is not too familiar yet with the MIAA, but that he knows the competition in the conference is on a high level.
“All I know is that this is supposed to be the best league in Division II, especially in women’s basketball,” Hardaker said. “We’ve played only two or three of the teams since I’ve been here. And what I’ve found out is that those girls are just so big and the league is so physical.
“I think that’s what we have to tell our girls is that they’re going to have to adjust to the physicality of the league.
“But we’ll be ready and we’re excited about it.”
Central was picked to finish somewhere in the middle of the MIAA, according to the polls released by the conference yesterday. The media representatives placed them in the No. 7 spot, while the coaches picked them to finish eighth.
The Bronchos were 16-10 last season. UCO failed to make the Division II national tournament last season. It was the first time that had happened since 2007.
Playing the challenging independent schedule with no chance at an automatic bid was tough for UCO. Head coach Guy Hardaker acknowledged competing as an independent might have had an impact on his team’s postseason chances.
“I think it did have something to do with our scheduling,” Hardaker said. “You know, everybody is in conference play in the second semester and it was almost impossible to find games in the second semester.
“We felt like we were maybe two wins away from getting in last year. I can still remember two one-possession games that we lost at the end.
“But you can’t blame it on just one thing”.
Hardaker said that he’ll be watching a lot of tape this year preparing for each game this season as the program builds the new files on the teams in the new conference.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us,” Hardaker said. “But we’ll do our homework and we’ll prepare our girls for each game.
“But we’re the new guys. And honestly, I’m hoping that they’re going to have to adjust to us, instead of us adjusting to our opponents. But we’re definitely going to be watching the tape.”
Hardaker will bring back his two leading scorers from last season in seniors Courtney Harper and Savannah Hamilton. But he’ll have to do without sophomore post Paiten Taylor, who reinjured her ACL in practice last week.
Central opens the season in San Antonio at the St. Mary’s Classic against Minnesota-Duluth. The home crowd will get to see them in Hamilton Field House for the first time on Dec. 1, as they host Oklahoma Baptist.