KWC BASKETBALL | Panthers Prep For Louisville

10/27/2017 04:43 PM

They’re a young team. They have eight banners and are the winningest program around. No, they’re not the Kentucky Wildcats. They’re the Kentucky Wesleyan Panthers (the winningest D-II program). The Panthers are hard at work preparing fot the season, returning just two starters from last season.

“We’re under no illusions and we do have a long way to go, but I think its a team that given time, staying healthy, proper mindset that we could be a really good team and have a really nice team before the year ends,” said head coach Happy Osborne.

They’re still finding their identity as a team, but they know their strength.

“We have guys that are versatile at all positions which is important, like just guys that can do a lot of things from where they play out on the floor,” said junior forward Malek Harris.

They have a tall task at hand, traveling to face the Louisville Cardinals at the KFC Yum! Center Monday night.

“Monday is going to be… it’s going to be Monday. Its Louisville. They’ve been practicing since October 1, we’ve been practicing for 11 days,” Osborne said. “They’ve got a lot of people back, they’re one of the best teams in the country. You know, they’re recruited there and brought there by one of the best coaches ever in coach [Rick] Pitino and I know David [Padgett] is going to do a great job with them. They’ve got everything. What we’ll learn? We’ll get put in the frying pan and we’ll learn if we’re going to stick together in tremendous adversity and how hard we play. I’m not going to be looking at the scoreboard, I’m going to be looking at our effort.”

Harris agreed.

“It’s obviously going to push us and challenge us and if we want to beat them by any means we have to play great. I think, you know, even the down part of it- if we lose or we played bad or, you know, if we don’t play exactly how we want to, I think we learn from it and thats important to see guys learning and becoming more together.”

The Panthers are looking forward to the road environment.

“Its going to have a tournament feel. It’s going to feel like March and thats really what we need early in the season,” added junior guard Rasheide Bell.

Osborne knows his team has a challenge at hand with their first six games, that stretch wrapping up with WKU on November 15, but he knows that Louisville is the ultimate test for his young squad.

“I can look at my guys when the year is over and say ‘nobody is better than Louisville’. For now on, after Monday night, no matter who we play, they’re not Louisville.”

The Panthers know they aren’t favored in the match-up, but they aren’t intimidated either.

“At the end of the day we all put on a jersey, we all tie our shoes the same way and just go out there and compete- one man against the next,” Bell added.

The Panthers face off with the Cardinals at 7:00 P.M. in the first exhibition game for both teams on October 30.


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