Low preseason ranking doesn’t bother Corn

Danielle DeVader, Lions sophomore guard, shows off some of her skills during a preseason practice. DeVader is recovering from three ACL knee repairs in the last three years.

Hobie Brown

Danielle DeVader, Lions’ sophomore guard, shows off some of her skills during a preseason practice. DeVader is recovering from three ACL knee repairs in the last three years.

Head coach Robert Corn is ready for a new season of Lions basketball with an exhibition against Living the Dream at 7 p.m. tomorrow in Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.

“They are a team of former college players that travel around and play exhibitions against several college teams,” Corn said. “They will be a good test for us.”

The team, which returns three starters and six players from last year’s squad, begins its campaign ranked last in the MIAA preseason poll.

“I’ll be very disappointed if that’s where we finish,” he said. “I never put a lot of stock in where the polls are at this stage of the season.

“It’s where we are at the end of February that matters, and it’s the driving force behind our basketball team.”

This season marks the first year Fort Hays State University will play in the MIAA.

Coming from the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference East Division, the Tigers are building on a 27-win season from last year, and a first-place finish in the conference.

“It (FHSU joining the MIAA) adds another two difficult games to the schedule,” Corn said. “They were ranked no. 1 for a portion of the season last year.”

The Lions want to do well this season, coming off a 12-win season and a return trip to the MIAA tournament.

“The big thing is that we want to compete and we want to have the chance to win in every game,” Corn said. “We want to compete every time we go out.”

The Lions had an opportunity to put what they have worked on to use last weekend when they traveled to Division I Indiana State University.

“We didn’t do a really good job at things like not using the inside foot when you come off screens, sprinting to the ball on defense, and putting pressure on the ball,” Corn said. “We were 1-14 from the 3-point line. We’ve got to realize when we have a good three-point opportunity and take advantage of it.”

Though 22 turnovers played a part in the 75-48 loss, Corn still was able to take away a positive from the contest.

“It was a good experience watching the team play outside of conference competition,” he said. “You can watch your team in practice and get lulled into a false sense of security, but when you play outside competition, you can expose your weaknesses.”

Twelve players make up the Lions’ squad this year.

“Tyler Ryerson, Ed Miles, and Myron Hodge are returning starters and had a lot of playing time for us,” Corn said. “Matt Habermehl and Dale Hunter started some for us last year. Stanley Titsworth was injured last season, but could come back to be a good player for us.”

Seven new Lions join those six.

“Our junior college transfers are T.J. Britton, who comes from a very good program and has a chance to be a very good player for us,” he said. “Deonte Cox gives us inside presence that you have to have to be successful. Terrell Rice and Joey Savage have certain things they can add to the team.”

Corn will also look to fresh talent he can keep for a full four years of eligibility.

“Our freshman this year are Trevor Logan and Daniel Hurst,” he said. “We are really pleased with their starts and feel they have a bright future. Kyle Schrage is redshirting for us this year, but has a bright future as well.”

Corn is excited about the competitive nature of the team.

“No one has stepped up to say ‘this is my spot,’ which helps with practice because it creates competition, Corn said. “I feel the only way you are going to improve is by having competition in practice.”

The team is looking forward to another year of good turnout.

“We hope the fans and student sections will come out and lend us support,” he said. “Our pep band has been tremendous over the last couple of years, and our student group that has been coming out looks like they really have a good time.”