The Midwestern State Mustangs finished last season with a 24-6 record, finishing 10-4 in Lone Star Conference play. They were Lone Star Conference Champions. They appeared in the NCAA post season tournament for the eleventh time, hosting the South Central Regional for the fourth time in program history.
Needless to say, last season is labeled a success. This year, the Mustangs lose many key players to graduation, to name a few, Khapri Alston, Bretson McNeal, and Jordan Stevens.
“A lot of experience, a lot of toughness, great team guys, really embodied what we are in a program, and really believed in the things that we’re doing, and not having them is definitely a difference, but these guys are eager to learn, and they’re still around helping these guys out some, so that’s been great,” says head coach Nelson Haggerty. But he’s looking forward to seeing many returners fill bigger roles. Pat Smith, a four year senior, will be heavily relied on to score this year. As well as Sheldon Hagigal, who came off the bench last year, becoming one of the best 3-point shooters in the country. Magnus Richards, Henrietta native, Nick Powell, and Neo Krtolica are also expected to see more minutes this year.
As for the newcomers? The Mustangs welcome NBA star, Serge Ibaka’s brother, Igor, to the team. Coach Haggerty is excited about the hype all of the newcomers are getting, “Well Igor Ibaka, he played at Oklahoma State, he’s 6’7″, about 240, he can score around the basket, he can score shoot out from three, so he’s getting better daily, with what we’re doing. Melo Walker, he’s a transfer from Binghamton, about 6’6″ wing, really long, rebounds well, defends, can score, so we’re happy to get him. Shawn Nottingham, Shawn’s a transfer from Northeast in Oklahoma, a junior college, went to two national championships in junior college, can play really three positions on the floor, 6’2, 6’3 really long, really athletic, Brandon’s out of Wright State, when he was at South Plains, he got their team to the runner up in the national championship game.”
Last year, the Mustangs season ended in the NCAA Divsion II tournament as they were upset by Lubbock Christian right here in D.L. Ligon Coliseum. This year, the Mustangs are all about revenge.
“Any time you lose in a national tournament, the way we lost, and losing at home, was a tough loss for us, probably one of the toughest losses I’ve ever been a part of as a coach, and that still sticks with you, but as a coach, you just try to find ways to get better. This is a new group, you try to carry over the things that will help you win this year, and get better in those areas, so that’s how we’re using it.”