By Lee Coleman, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
In a roller coaster and sometimes tumultuous 2010-2011 campaign, the Northern Oklahoma College Enid Jets basketball team finished 16-17 and very short of the expectations of head coach Greg Shamburg.
After a strong recruiting season, the Jets landed 11 freshmen and although youthful, Shamburg is excited about the potential of the 2011-2012 squad as they prepare for their season opener on Friday in the Brown Mackie Classic tournament against Kansas State-Salina at 5 p.m. in Salina, Kan.
The Jets will begin the season with only three sophomores in Xavier McClish, Travis Carbajal and Brandon Burns.
Shamburg said the early preseason, and meshing the incoming freshmen together, was a challenge but the results are beginning to show.
Freshman L.J. Kimbrough from San Jacinto (Calif.) scored 25 points in the exhibition against Oklahoma Christian on Monday. Kimbrough averaged 33 points for West Valley High School.
“It started out pretty slow,” Shamburg said. “We had a lot of freshmen, but they have now figured it all out and are realizing the difference between playing high school and college basketball.
“We have a bunch of guys who can do a lot of things and we are working on establishing the go-to guy. We have a really good group that came in.”
Against experienced Kansas State-Salina, the youthful Jets’ defense will be tested against the experience of Kansas State-Salina. Inconsistent defensive lapses plagued NOC Enid throughout last season.
“Kansas State is a four-year school club team with older guys,” Shamburg said. “They play a lot of juniors and seniors and they are very mature.
“If we compete hard and continue to make shots, we’ll be fine. This team likes to shoot and play defense and our chemistry is good. Last year, we could shoot. This year, we can do both.
“I expect it to be tough, but we have to beat people on their home floor.”
NOC Enid will battle Brown Mackie (Kan.) at 3 p.m. Saturday before returning home and playing Hesston (Kan.) 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Mabee Center.
“Playing at home will be a big benefit for us,” Shamburg said. “Our goal is to win the conference and win the region. Last year, we didn’t play well down the stretch.
“We want to get a high seed and go to the national tournament. We have a chance to be good.”