Young Cowboys open season facing early adversity


ABILENE, Texas - The new look Hardin-Simmons men's basketball team under first-year coach Matt Brackett is off to the races in a new season, but a young team may take some time to get adjusted.

"I'm pretty pleased with how are guys are coming along so far with all the obstacles that have been in our way and seeing how our guys gel in certain situations," said coach Brackett at Tuesday's practice.

The Cowboys dropped their season opener in a competitive game at Southwestern last week, and aside from three players - it is an entirely new roster. But it doesn't't mean there aren't guys ready to compete.

"Early on now I get to see different line-ups, different guys on the floor, and just see the different freshman that got in and even the one's who didn't - they'll get an opportunity," said Brackett.

No Justin Jones, no Nathaniel Jack, and with Duane Hopper and Christian O'Neal also gone -- it certainly makes HSU men's basketball almost unrecognizable.

But it's time for a new group to step up - with Joe Hoeup, Caleb Spoon, and Ryan Chaney the only returners a part of last year's run to the NCAA DIII Sweet 16 behind arguably one of the best senior classes in school history.

And while it's all about getting the young guns up to speed and starting from scratch with a new coach, it also hasn't helped early season injuries have plagued the 2-time defending conference champs who were picked 4 th in this year's preseason conference poll.

But they're moving right along, with a different identity this year.

"We don't have the same amount of talent level obviously as we did last year, and we won pretty last year," said senior Caleb Spoon, Breckenridge native. "But this year, our games might be a little uglier," he said with a smile."

"We're going to grind out games and we're going to compete," added guard Joe Hoeup. "Just can't take any games off."

The Cowboys (0-1) will continue the season Friday at TLU, before visiting Schreiner on Saturday.

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