The Dodge City Conquistadors mens basketball team ended the fall 2017 portion of their season on a six-game losing streak.
Still, head coach Steve Tucker isn’t discouraged.
“We’re not supposed to be where we’re at right now,” Tucker said. “We were picked dead-last in the conference in the preseason polls, and nobody thought we would win five games for the year and we’ve already won five games at Christmas.
The team enters the break having straight, but Tucker said he believes the team will overcome that, calling the break good for both the coaches and players.
“The team is developing and they play extremely hard, which I think is kind of their calling-card,” Tucker said. “They’re extremely young. We will rebound from this and we’ll get where we’re supposed to be. You are who you are and right now we’re just a young team that’s developing and we’re gonna move forward from there.”
Despite the losing streak, which included a narrow, two-point loss to Garden City but also tough losses recently to Cowley, Barton and Butler, progress is being made in the program.
Tucker, who was hired July 14 of this year, said the culture has been changed within the men’s basketball program.
“We’ve changed the culture,” Tucker said. “We’ve changed the culture and the attitude here, from what many people thought was a renegade program, out of control attitude-wise, to the culture and the attitude, we’ve totally changed that, and now we’re going to build from there.”
Going forward, one of the biggest challenges this young team faces is experience. Specifically, the team needs some wins.
“What this young team has to learn how to do is win, and win consistently and do it in an extremely tough conference, and that’s what we’re doing,” Tucker said. “It’ll happen. I’m not discouraged, we’re actually one game off where I thought we would be right now. I had written down earlier in the year that if we could win six I would be really happy. We’ve won five before Christmas.”
Still, Tucker said he doesn’t think anybody is down.
Nobody is happy about the record, he said, but it could certainly be worse.
“We could be sitting right now 2-11. I think you gotta turn a negative into a positive, and you’re not happy where you are but you also gotta realize it could be worse, and we’ve got this thing in striking-distance now,” Tucker said. “I think the break’s gonna be really good for our players and our coaches and I think that you’re gonna see a great improvement as we move forward.
Last year, Tucker’s hiring so late into July set the coaching staff back on the recruiting trails.
But if the coaches can get a full season of recruiting in, and the team maybe win a few more games to get used to do that, Tucker said the team can be a threat, both going into the spring of 2018, and beyond.
“I think the break’s gonna be really good for our players and our coaches and I think that you’re gonna see a great improvement as we move forward,” Tucker said. “This team’s gonna get better and better as we go along, and I want to get ‘em to where in February we’re really hitting on all cylinders, we’re extremely competitive, can beat anybody and we go into the playoffs a real threat.”
The Conquistadors men’s basketball team next returns to action with a visit to Iola, Kansas to take on Allen Community College Jan. 3, 2018. The team then returns home to face Independence Community College at 3 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2018.