This week, the No. 3-ranked Odessa College men’s basketball team will play its home opener when the Wranglers begin a three-day tournament on Thursday at the OC Sports Center.
Odessa College will host the Wrangler Club Shootout which will begin on Thursday and wrap up on Saturday.
The Wranglers (7-0) will face Southern Idaho at 7 p.m. Thursday and then face Weatherford College at 7 p.m. Friday and then finish up against Blinn College at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Odessa College remained at No. 3 in the NJCAA rankings this week while South Plains College (5-0) is No. 2 and Northwest Florida State College (6-0) is No. 1.
The Wranglers maintained their undefeated record by defeating Lamar State College-Port Arthur, 94-66, last Friday before defeating Panola College, 80-69, on Saturday.
“I feel good,” Odessa College sophomore Brandon Maclin said. “We all know what the end goal is supposed to be. We all want to make it to the championship but a 7-0 start sets the tone for what the rest of the season should be.”
Maclin is one of the few players back from last year’s team that made it to the quarterfinals of the NJCAA tournament.
While it’s still early in the season, Maclin and his teammates have their sights set on not only getting back to the national tournament but also winning it this season.
“Winning a national championship is hard,” Maclin said. “Every day we have to work hard and be good and be 100 percent. You have to work hard every day.”
The Wranglers won’t complain about finally being at home this week for the first time this season.
“It feels good,” Maclin said. “We have the home crowd to support us so it feels good to play at home.”
The Wranglers will be going up against tough competition in this week’s tournament.
Southern Idaho enters with a 4-2 record while Weatherford College is undefeated at 3-0 which included a 74-45 win over previously ranked Clarendon College back on Nov. 8 and Blinn College is also undefeated at 6-0.
“We have to beat the best in the national tournament so playing ranked teams early will be a good test and we should accomplish those goals,” Maclin said.
Maclin and his teammates know they have to be focused when they go into this week’s games.
“Going into this week, I would say, we have to be 100 percent focused,” Maclin said. “We just need to give it our all on the court.”
As for the No. 3 ranking? The Wranglers feel like they’re even better.
“Number three is a good ranking but in our minds, we feel like we’re the best team in the country,” Maclin said. “We feel a little disrespected by the number three ranking. We feel like we should be number one.”
>> WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: The Lady Wranglers will be playing close to home this week when they head over to Chaparral Center for the WNIT.
Odessa College (2-2) will face perennial power (and defending national runner-up) Trinity Valley Community College (2-1) at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Chaparral Center before facing Hill College (4-1) at 3 p.m. Friday and then close out against Panola College (2-0) at noon Saturday.
The Lady Wranglers are coming off a 94-53 win over Lamar Community College on Saturday in Hobbs, N.M.
Odessa College head coach Franqua Bedell said there have been some learning lessons this season.
“We have to get better with the little things,” Bedell said. “We’re talented enough. We’re just not disciplined enough yet. That comes with being a young team. Overall, we have to get better with the little things but we’re talented enough.”
The Lady Wranglers’ losses came in an 82-78 loss to Dodge City Community College from Nov. 4 at the OC Sports Center and a 61-56 defeat to Cochise College last Friday in Hobbs, N.M.
“From a coaching standpoint, we just need to pay attention to details,” Bedell said. “We need to have fewer turnovers. We need to make the free throws like we do in practice and finish the layups. Those little things and being able to execute down the stretch are what we’re looking at. I can’t complain about the effort. That’s what you ask for. We just need to finish.”
Sophomore Ivana Krajina agrees.
“I would say we just need to work on the little things because it’s the little things that have cost us the games so far like making the free throws,” Krajina said. “I think we’ll be fine. We are talented enough.”
The Lady Wranglers are looking forward to going up against tough competition this week.
“I’m really excited about that,” Bedell said. “You have to play the best to figure out who you are. You have to be challenged early in the season. … I feel like we’re going to find out how good we are.”