With seven of its first nine games away from Hillsboro, the Tabor College men have come through the first eight with a 4-4 record.
Opening with a come-from behind, 70-60, victory at Benedictine College, Tabor has only dropped two contests to NAIA opponents, Baker and Bellevue.
Coming off a season with a 10-18 record overall and 7-11 in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, Tabor returns a solid core of returning players to mix with some new faces.
Returning for Tabor is all-KCAC post player Damon Dechant. The 6-feet, 6-inch senior is averaging 15.7 points and 6.8 rebounds and is shooting 60.3 percent from the field.
“He’s had a good off-season and has gotten bigger and stronger and is shooting the ball well” coach Micah Ratzlaff said. “He’s a big threat for us.”
Joining Dechant on the block is sophomore Ryan Chippeaux (6-7). An all-KCAC freshman team selection a year ago, Chippeaux is averaging 6.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.
Tabor’s backcourt is led by 2009-10 all-KCAC freshman team selection Lawson Kingsley (5-10). Through the first eight games, Kingsley has struggled shooting the ball, converting only 10 of 42 field goals (24 percent). Kingsley is averaging 7.3 points and is shooting 94 percent from the foul line.
“He’s not very big, but the guy understands the game and has played enough basketball in his life,” Ratzlaff said. “He’s a big part of our program.”
Cody Arnold (6-2) is returning for his junior campaign. The Bluestem sharp-shooter continues to find his range from behind the three-point line, hitting 16 so far this season. He’s averaging 7.5 points per game.
“(He’s) actually defending a lot better, which is something we needed from him,” Ratzlaff said.
Several newcomers have made immediate contributions. Rainy River Community College transfer Dylan Clark-Kaneable (6-5) has made the most impact on both ends of the court. The junior averages 8.7 points and 5.8 rebounds and has nine steals for the season.
Napa Valley College transfer Max Frise (6-6) is getting most of his minutes in the paint. Averaging 8.3 points and shooting 87.5 percent from the foul line, the junior has seen 14 minutes per contest.
Also seeing time are newcomers Phillip Jimenez (6-1) and Aaron MaGee (6-1).
Tabor was picked to finished sixth in the KCAC coaches’ poll and seventh in the media poll. The 2009-10 KCAC champion Friends was picked first in the both polls.
The coaches picked Sterling to place second, followed by Bethany and Southwestern, McPherson, Tabor, Ottawa and Saint Mary, Kansas Wesleyan University and Bethel College.
The media poll picked Bethany for second place, followed by McPherson, Sterling, Southwestern College, Saint Mary, Tabor, Ottawa University, Kansas Wesleyan and Bethel.