ODESSA, Texas — The Odessa College men's basketball team is headed to the NJCAA national tournament, which is something it has done before, but this time, this squad is looking to bring home some hardware.
"When we put this team together, I thought we had a national championship team, and I told them that the first time I met them," OC head coach Kris Baumann (Coach Bucket) said. "I said, 'You guys are champions and we got to prove that to everybody."
"That was my goal when I came here and that's still the thing that drives me everyday," Coach Bucket continued. "I really, really want to win a national championship for this college, and for the school, and for the community."
That's an accomplishment that has never been reached over at Odessa College, and it's not only the goal of Coach Bucket to be the first, it is also what motivates these players.
"We want to play it for the players and coaches, and winning one for Odessa," OC sophomore guard Colin Schaefer said. "I know we haven't won one here yet. That's kind of our main goal and what we are trying to do for the school."
This seems attainable for a squad that finished the regular season with only two losses, and maintained ranked status the entire season, but the Wranglers stumbled in the regional tournament.
Odessa College had swept Midland College during regular season conference play, but couldn't not off the Chaps in round three, losing 67-66. There were some good lessons that came from the defeat though.
"It's just the little things," OC sophomore swingman Dontrell Hewlett said. "The small simple stuff and our mindset, really. We beat ourselves every time we lose. That's pretty much it. Our mindset and how we go into each game. Never underestimate your opponent. We usually beat Midland every time. We just thought it was going to be a cake walk. Not taking them as seriously as we should have. Take your opponent serious."
These are just a couple of adjustments that could prove crucial in this final stretch of games, and could make or break the hopes and dreams of this Wrangler team.