REECER’S PIECE: Hysteria brings new era of basketball

John Reecer is the sports editor of the College Heights Herald during the spring 2016 semester.

John Reecer

After what might have been the longest offseason in the history of WKU men’s basketball, the wait is finally over.

Hilltopper Hysteria is set for this Friday night at 7:30 p.m. as both the women’s and men’s teams will showcase their talents for the first time ahead of the upcoming season.

As the women’s team is set for what will surely be another great season, I’m going to focus a little bit more on the men’s team and the many questions they face.

This is a team that isn’t just going to look a little different from last year but drastically different in almost every way.

First off, there are only three players who saw playing time last year who return this season. Senior forwards Ben Lawson and Anton Waters and junior forward Justin Johnson will bring much-needed experience in the post.

However, all of the intrigue rests in a backcourt full of new, talented guards.

In particular, the additions of redshirt seniors Pancake Thomas, Que Johnson and Junior Lomomba will be the main focus of fans as these talented transfers will likely determine the success of the program this season.

While seeing how these talented players play with all their teammates for their first time will be entertaining, it will not be the most important aspect of Hysteria on Friday.

After what was at times an offseason to forget, new Head Coach Rick Stansbury came along and changed the narrative completely as he went out and got talented players for not only this season, but for the 2017-18 season as well.

Of course only time will tell just how beneficial having Stansbury here will turn out to be for the program, but every indication so far has led me to believe that one of the greatest eras in WKU basketball has officially arrived with his hiring.

That may be a big statement, but there aren’t any head coaches in WKU’s history that have shown they can add four and five star recruits to the program here.

Stansbury has already added a four star and a five star recruit for next year’s team, and the man has only been here for six months.

Recruits like that are unheard of at WKU as the normal blue bloods of college basketball usually eliminate any chance smaller schools have at big-time recruits, yet that didn’t cripple Stansbury at all.

There is obviously something different about this particular head coach from coaches of years past, and it seems like this is a positive change so far.

Also, with just three players returning from last year’s team, this Topper basketball squad was picked to finish third in all of Conference USA this season.

That mind-boggling fact alone should let everyone know that something different is definitely in the air with this program.

However, don’t be surprised if a completely new team struggles to win games and create positive chemistry early this upcoming season.

This is still a massive rebuilding overhaul that will require patience. The good news is that with Stansbury’s talents at the head of this program, playing the long game may pay off big in the end.

So when this Friday night arrives just sit back, relax and get your first glance at what will look like a group of strangers.

But more importantly, as you watch the festivities have a sense of hope for this program, because having this kind of hope this early after the events of the offseason is a huge success within itself.

Reporter John Reecer can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @Reece_12_Falcon.