Dixie State College’s men’s basketball team is one of the school’s elite athletic programs, as the team has won two consecutive PacWest championships and enters this season fresh off a Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
By the intensity already evident this preseason, it is apparent that Dixie head coach Jon Judkins feels encouraged.
“I love how hard we’re going,” Judkins said. “We’ve got a lot of new guys so we’ve got to slow down and go back to the basic kind of stuff. And hopefully, our seniors and juniors will help these guys and set up and be leaders.”
Dixie graduated accomplished players last season like Jeremiah Barnes and Tom Whitehead, primarily wing players. This season, the Red Storm roster is loaded with capable post-position athletes which is a change from recent seasons.
Forward Derek Owen said the new emphasis on post players could help the team improve from a competitive standpoint. “Playing with other great post players, we’re able to feed off each other; able to push each other for greatness,” Owen said.
Overall, the addition of several post players, along with losing several wing players, could change the playing style of DSC men’s basketball this season. “We’ve got some more bigger guys this year than we did last year, and we do miss our wings but we still plan on shooting the ball from the wings but we are going to go inside a lot more because we have bigger guys,” Judkins said.
Despite the roster turnover, and despite the past success, the Red Storm continues to place their eye on the prize of making the NCAA Elite Eight as they continue to get ready for the 2011-2012 season.
“Personal expectation is we’re going to make it; same spot and try to go farther,” Owen said. “There’s nothing that’s going to stop us if we work as a team. I said it last year when we played Chaminade, ‘Great team; great group of guys from Chaminade.’ When we play as a team, it’s hard to stop teams that play together.”
Official practice for the Red Storm starts on October 15, where they’ll prepare to start the exhibition season November 1 against Westminster College at the Burns Arena. On November 4, the Red Storm will continue the exhibition season by traveling to Provo to take on the Brigham Young University Cougars at the Marriott Center.