FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Tuesday means Nanook Corner, and we're going to continue our season preview series.
This week we focus on Men's Basketball.
The Men's Basketball team is under new management. Head Coach Greg Sparling will be leading the team this year in his first season as head coach. He is, however, is no stranger to the Nanooks. Sparling coached their GNAC foes the Central Washington Wildcats for 17 years, where he became the winningest coach in the history of the conference, earning 269 career victories and 172 conference wins. He will now be starting from scratch in a new program, and they have already begun practicing the fundamentals.
"We're trying to blend the old guys with the new guys and they're doing well both on the floor and off the floor. It's putting a whole new system in, so it's going to take a little longer so we've had to slow some stuff down. But I like our progress so far. The first full practice is on Monday and we'll get after it. Hopefully we can jump right into our drills where it's not going to take as much time. I like our progress, it's slow, it's steady. The weight room is improved, they've definitely put some money in there, and it's shown with the kids. The kids are enjoying working out in the weight room," said Sparling.
Sparling inherits a team that was one win away from a conference championship tournament appearance last year. They finished at 11-15 overall and 9-11 in conference play. They were a young squad, only losing one senior to graduation in the offseason. The Nanooks will now look to build on that base, and perform even better this season.
"Mick wanted to play in the 50s and 60s, we want to play in the 70s and 80s. We want to push the basketball and play in an up-tempo style of play. With the guards we have and the guards we brought in, I think we're capable of doing that. I think we're very capable of shooting the long ball, but also the mid-range game. I think Michael and Joe have come a long way. I think Daulton has lost some weight and really pushing himself. But I think the way we shoot the basketball one through five... We shoot it at a high volume with a pretty high percentage so that's going to be exciting," said Sparling.
The Nooks will begin their first season under this new regime at home. They host Antelope Valley on November 5th at the UAF Patty Center.
"We want to build the crowd. To get this thing going back when Frank and Al were here, and I'm not taking anything away from Mick, but I'd like to get the... you know when I was coming up here and coaching it was loud. When they had the Olesons and guys like that. So I'd like to get that environment going again here and make it community friendly. And also make sure that all the faculty and students know when our games are so they can get down here and cheer us on," said Sparling.