WKU BASKETBALL | Overcoming Obstacles, The Tops Are On A Tear

02/14/2018 04:58 PM

The WKU Men’s Basketball team has faced it’s share of challenges this season. From the departure of freshman five-star Mitchell Robinson, to eligibility issues with freshman guard Josh Anderson and redshirt sophomore transfer Moustapha Diange, the Hilltoppers have battled adversity this year.

Starting out, the Tops were playing with just seven scholarship players.

“Every season has it’s difficulties and challenges but I’d say this one a little more from a practice standpoint, because you can’t do everything you want to do in practices. You hear coach [Rick Stansbury] say it a lot, because of, you know, the risk of getting someone hurt and you know, everything like that, but you know, getting Moustapha and Josh eligible has really helped with us from a depth standpoint and just bringing the energy to our team that we may have lacked with seven guys,” said senior forward Justin Johnson.

The Hilltoppers didn’t just have to beat opponents, they also had to beat the NCAA.

“I thought I was going to be able to play right away, because my grades and stuff was good, but they were doing some investigation,” Diange said. “Things got handled the right way but it kind of took too long, but how they say, it’s behind my back, so now I’m just focusing on the season and I’m glad I’m being able to play now.”

Josh Anderson explained what was going through his mind when he learned he was ineligible.

“I knew I just had to deal with it, you know? Just had to focus in on my schoolwork and get stuff like that done but just be ready, because I knew my time was coming when I was going to be able to play.”

Despite the circumstances, the players kept their heads on straight and stayed positive.

“When you go through a situation like that, you don’t have- what other option do you have? Just to go through it. That’s something I couldn’t control,” Diange added.

“My teammates showed me a lot of support,” Anderson said. “They were telling me almost every day to just continue to be ready and stuff like that so I was encouraging them while they were playing but I always knew I was going to be able to play.”

Now they have their full roster eligible- nine scholarship players. The Tops are on a tear, 18-7 overall and 10-2 in Conference-USA play.

“You know, we’re a real good team right now but we’re still learning, just from me and Mu just getting in the rotation and stuff, so I knew we were going to be alright through,” Anderson told Spectrum News.

With March looming in the distance, they’re now focused on their next challenge- the NCAA Tournament.

“That’s a dream of mine, so I think at any level of basketball, to make it to the biggest stage and win games is, you know, your dream as a player,” Johnson said.

Anderson agreed.

“We want to get there, win Conference-USA and make the tournament and make a run. Not just get there, but make a run.”

The Hilltoppers get a step closer to that NCAA dream Thursday night at North Texas. Tip-off is set for 8:00 p.m. central.

Lyndsey Gough

Lyndsey is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News. You can catch Lyndsey’s work on Sports Night, the only nightly show dedicated to covering everything from high school to college sports in Kentucky. She loves covering all sports but it’s the personal stories that really stand out to Lyndsey, like the story of a community coming together to remember high school track start Trinity Gay who was killed. Lyndsey came to Spectrum News from WBKO in Bowling Green where she was an Anchor, Reporter and Producer covering news and sports. She’s a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of UK. Sports Night airs at 6:30 and 10:30 weeknights on Spectrum News. If you have a story idea for Lyndsey email her at Lyndsey.gough@charter.com.


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