Haskell Indian Nations University men’s basketball team was picked seventh in the eight-team Midlands Collegiate Athletic Confernce, but the coach said he honestly believes this squad could be knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door.
“I think we could compete for the conference title,” fourth-year coach Chad Kills Crow said. “I do. I believe it. My kids believe it. We’ll get our first test right away.”
The Indians open their season at 7:30 p.m. today at Coffin Complex against highly regarded McPherson College.
Then Thursday, on Halloween night, Haskell will face a Div. I school coached by a man who used to shake a building not too far from Haskell. The Indians travel to Tulsa, Okla., to play an exhibition game against the University of Tulsa, coached by Kansas University All-American Danny Manning.
“I’ll probably be just as nervous as our boys,” Kills Crow said. “I can’t believe I’m going to be standing up, putting my X’s against his O’s, trying to outsmart a legend.”
Kills Crow said he will approach the Tulsa game with the same goal he has every time he sends a team onto the floor.
“Now, the odds say Tulsa will win, but in our hearts and our minds at Haskell, we’re not going in there in awe. We are not going in there anticipating getting blown out. Were going in there to win a basketball game. But the reality of it on the coaching side, that’s a very, very tough task. Division I, Danny Manning. I get it. I understand it. The boys are excited.”
Front-court size and an infusion of freshman talent are at the heart Kills Crow’s optimism.
Tsalidi Sequoya, a 6-foot-10 freshman, and 6-9 junior Ron Rousseau give HINU size, senior Ray Walker brings strength, freshmen Dillon Thompson and Blake Pittsman lend speed, and junior Stand Lovato is such a good three-point shooter that, “it’s hard for him to miss,” according to Kills Crow.
Haskell finished last season 6-23 overall and 4-13 in conference.