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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

‘Energy in winning’: Men’s basketball team encouraged for season

Mia Hennen
Men’s basketball players huddle together after a successful play by Wichita State during the game against Rogers State on Oct. 29.

With the 2023-2024 season of men’s basketball fast approaching, fans eagerly await to see how the Wichita State Shockers will fare in this upcoming season. 

After becoming head coach in November 2020,  Isaac Brown was removed from the position in March of this year. It was a tumultuous three years for the basketball team, with a record of losing 10 conference games at Charles Koch Arena and a losing record of 8-10 in the last two years. The surmounting home losses coincided with WSU’s home attendance dipping to 7,137 last season after 17 seasons of 10,000-plus attendees. 

The basketball team had also missed postseason play for the second year in a row.

With seasoned players like guard Craig Porter Jr., guard Jaykwon Walton and forward James Rojas moving on from Wichita State, newly hired head coach Paul Mills had a lot of expectations on his shoulders. 

Along with getting to know the players coming back to the team this season, Mills focused heavily on recruiting. 

Dalen Ridgnal, a graduate student from Missouri State, committed to Wichita State days before the team was set to depart to Greece for an exhibition tour. He proved his worth to the team in Greece and finished the tour with 34 rebounds and 33 points.

“He is a phenomenal young man,” Mills said. “We lucked into that one.” 

With the season just starting, the team has high hopes. Yanis Bamba, a recruit from Quebec, Canada, said he is eager to see how the team fares this upcoming season.

“I think Coach Mills has done some good things for the team, and I think if we can just make sure the team plays 100%, we have the opportunity to win,” Bamba said.

Joy Ighovodja, a freshman recruit from Nigeria, shared similar thoughts.

“Everyone is good,” Ighovodja said. “We all have a lot of energy in winning. We’re all in that mindset. I think that motivation will help us win a lot of games together.”

“We’re going to play through our mistakes and help each other grow in the process,” Ighovodja said. 

Mills said he is working hard to ensure the men’s basketball team makes the most of the games they play this season. After winning their first game 74-53 against Rogers State, they seem to be on the right track.

“My message to the players right now is ‘Let’s leave it better than you found it,’” Mills said. “When we leave here today, let’s be better than when we walked in. If we’re not, let’s be better in our recovery so we can be better tomorrow.”

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About the Contributors
Maegan Vincent, Former photographer
Maegan Vincent was a reporter and photographer for The Sunflower.
Mia Hennen, Editor in Chief
Mia Hennen is the current editor in chief for The Sunflower. Before becoming editor, Hennen was the news/managing editor. They are a junior at Wichita State majoring in English and minoring in communications and Spanish, hoping to pursue any career involving writing or editing. Hennen uses they/them pronouns.

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