RANGERS READY TO UNLEASH DEFENSIVE PRESSURE ON GAC
November 5, 2017
ALVA, Okla. – With a season of laying the framework for the style of basketball that is to be expected night in and night out for head coach Shawn Dirden's team, the 2017-18 version of the Northwestern Oklahoma State Rangers will be much more prepared and built to operate the high-pace, defensive orientated attack that is expected.
Last season saw the growing pains that are expected when a new coaching style is implemented in any team, and with a full off-season of recruiting and preparation under his belt, coach Dirden is ready to attack the new season with his style of basketball and a team that is truly prepared to execute.
"Last year was just laying the foundation for the full court pressure and then trying to build up to it through recruiting," coach Dirden said, "There are some phenomenal coaches and teams in this league and that was a big eye opener for me. The Great American Conference is moving quickly toward strong recognition at a national level and we want to be a part of that rise that puts this conference here in the south on the map."
That top-to-bottom competition was evident last season as Arkansas-Monticello went from the bottom of the league in 2015-16 to splitting the regular-season championship with East Central in 2017-18. The Rangers found themselves in a tie for 9th place at the conclusion of the regular season, narrowly missing out on their second consecutive birth into the post-season tournament.
With a clear understanding of the style of basketball that will be expected along with a fresh face of new Rangers, this year's squad figures to have a new look that will showcase an exciting style of basketball, difficult to deal with for opposing squads. One face that became a staple inside Percefull Fieldhouse was graduated senior Adrian Motley, who left the program ranked 5th in school history in points scored, and is now pursuing a professional career overseas.
"Adrian left his imprint on both the program and the conference and you'll never be able to replace a player like that," coach Dirden said, "You're always looking for talented players like him, but you're also trying to find the same kind of person like him that can have the same type of impact on campus and in the classroom that he had."
Dirden and his staff searched not just all over the country, but all over the world to find players that bring that same effort and drive that made Motley and others so successful playing the up-tempo, full court pressure style of basketball that Dirden has implemented. Those players will join a host of returners eager to get back into post-season competition including senior Brandon Green, who will suit up for his final season in the Black-and-Red after a long career that has seen him experience countless battles on the court.
Green will be joined along with fellow senior Cody Halvorson as the leading returning scorers for the Rangers, as Halvorson ranked 5th in the league in three-point field goal percentage (43%) and 4th with an average of 2.9 made three pointers a contest. Seniors Cedric Collinge and Trey Johnson will also hit the hardwood for their final collegiate seasons after enduring their inaugural seasons at the Division II level. Both Collinge and Johnson have put their full season of off-season training to good use and will be vital pieces in the winning formula coach Dirden looks to put together, along with senior Greg Minor Jr., who will return with his outstanding defensive talent to help control the opposing guards of Ranger opponents.
The returning core of Rangers will be joined by a trio of top-level junior college recruits that Dirden anticipates to make major impacts across the league. Trinidad State Junior College transfer Treyvon Andres will bring his 6-8, 230 pound frame to the heart of the Ranger defense with Division I experience under his belt at Loyola University. Andres will be joined in the projected starting five by point guard A.J. Jones, who averaged 8.1 points per game and 6.1 assists per game last season at Snow College.
Both players will add to the team's athleticism that coach Dirden made as a point of emphasis when considering the program's recruiting approach, along with guard Akeem Oglesby, who averaged 20.4 points a contest last season at Ridgewater College.
The three junior college transfers will be combined with a host of incoming high school recruits and international player Saba Gvedashvili, who will bring a diverse range of offensive weapons from his native Republic of Georgia to Alva.
"For us in recruiting we weren't afraid to go anywhere and we're really excited about this group of guys," coach Dirden said, "We want to continue to build on our athleticism and shooting which I think we did and these guys are ready."
The Rangers will get their season underway at home inside Percefull Fieldhouse in the GAC/MIAA Challenge on Nov. 10-11 against Northeastern State and Central Oklahoma with both contests set for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.