By COURTLIN HAYGARTH | HSU Sports Network
RUSSELLVILLE — With the beginning of the 2022-23 season just under a month away, Henderson State men’s basketball was selected to finish second in the Great American Conference Preseason Poll, the league announced Wednesday. This is the second time in program history HSU has been tabbed second in the GAC heading into the season.
The conference’s coaches tabbed Southern Nazarene as the preseason favorite with 11 first-place votes after the Crimson Storm reached the championship game of last year’s GAC Tournament. The Reddies received one first-place vote, garnering 99 total points. Oklahoma Baptist (3), Southeastern Oklahoma State (4) and Northwestern Oklahoma State (5) rounded out the Top-5.
Heading into his eighth season at HSU, head coach Jimmy Elgas brings in a mixture of returning talent and newcomers for his 2022-23 squad, as well as two new coaches to the staff in assistants DJ Balentine and Jeff Jones. On the hardwood, Henderson will see eight familiar faces from last year’s team and seven new guys, six of whom are transfers.
“One word that keeps coming up within our program is “intentionality,” and it starts with our staff. We have to be intentional in our daily communication to ensure we are all pulling in the same direction with one objective in mind, which is helping our players,” Elgas said. “We also have to be intentional with our team. Intentional with the teaching of our details, core values and chemistry to grow as a cohesive unit as quick as we can.”
Highlighting the returnees from last season’s GAC Tournament team is 2022 All-GAC Honorable Mention Malik Riddle and junior guard Alvin Miles, along with seniors Franck Kamgain and Ryan Boyce. Miles, Riddle and Kamgain all averaged over 20 minutes per game, with Miles leading the team in scoring at 10.2 points per game. Riddle was second in both scoring (9.5) and rebounds (4.7), while Boyce shot 45 percent from the field and 36.6 percent from beyond the arc.
“We really believe in this team and think we have a high ceiling, but in all honesty, we do not pay too much attention to preseason polls,” Elgas said. “We choose to focus on daily improvement and practicing championship habits. If we focus on that alone, we will get better and be where we want to be as the season unfolds.”
Tip-off for the 2022-23 season comes at the Central Region Challenge in Kansas City, Missouri Nov. 11-12. The Reddies will open with Washburn Friday, Nov. 11 at 5 p.m. before facing Minnesota State-Mankato Saturday, Nov. 12 at 3 p.m. The home portion of the season begins Saturday, Nov. 19 when Arkansas-Fort Smith comes to the Duke Wells Center.