Other key returners for the Wildcats include 6-foot-8-inch forward Samer Jasser (Jatt, Israel) and 6-foot-2-inch guard Corey Anderson (Mansfield, Texas).
“I’m excited about the improvement some of our returners have made,” Ballard said. “Samer is much improved and has a ton of confidence after playing with the Israel National Team this past summer.”
Newcomers to the team will also play an important role this season, as Ballard has brought in several key recruits.
“The newcomers have adjusted nicely and many of them have a chance to play major minutes right away,” Ballard said. “Jordan Honore has been very good, especially from an offensive standpoint. Ben Steinlage and Todd Johnston are both highly competitive guys that will battle for you. Todd Ellis and Kevin Lysaught will both be competing for playing time at the wing position.”
Baba Diallo, a 6-foot-7-inch Centenary College of Louisiana transfer from Lawrence, Kan., will also add depth at the forward position and freshman Brandon Moore (Jefferson City, Mo.) will also be competing for playing time at the guard position, according to Ballard.
“Baba is one of the most athletic kids in the HAAC,” Ballard said. “He should have an impact in games purely based on his athleticism.
“Brandon is a pure offensive player and he’s not afraid to take and make big shots,” Ballard added.
Baker will open its 2011-12 campaign on the road against Kansas Wesleyan University at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1.
“Overall, I’m very excited about the direction that the program is headed in,” Ballard said. “The league should be wide open this year and there will be a ton of close games throughout the schedule. We have to continue to get better each and every day and carry that over into game action.”
Men’s Basketball 2011-12 HAAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1 MidAmerica Nazarene (4) – 75 points
2 Evangel University (5) – 73 points
3 Benedictine – 68 points
4 Missouri Valley – 51 points
5 Central Methodist – 44 points
6 Baker – 41 points
7 Avila – 38 points
8 Graceland – 34 points
9 Peru State – 14 points
10 Culver-Stockton – 12 points
Wildcats rebuild and reload for 2011-12 under new head coach Ben Lister
BALDWIN CITY, Kan. – After losing its starting five to graduation, the Baker women’s basketball team looks to turn to a new chapter in the 2011-12 season as head coach Ben Lister takes over the reins.
Senior Gloria Atanmo (Avondale, Ariz.) is the top returner from last year’s squad. Other key returners are senior Rae Lynne Stewart (Independence, Mo.) and sophomore Rachel Taghaboni (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Atanmo played in 28 games last season, averaging 4.9 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. Taghaboni and Stewart played in 30 and 26 games, respectively.
Lister, who served the previous four seasons as the assistant coach at Barton County Community College, believes the recruiting class and the development of some of the returning players could play a big role in the team’s success.
“Our team motto this season is ‘Expect To Be Elite,’ and I think we’re getting the players in the right mindset to believe that,” Lister said. “Our offseason workouts have been promising and I think our practices have been competitive.”
The Wildcats have nine newcomers who will play a pivotal role.
“This group we brought in gives us versatility, toughness and a winning mentality,” Lister added. “Every incoming player will be able to compete for playing time immediately; therefore the competition in practice should continue to be intense and productive.”
The Wildcats open the 2011-12 campaign on Nov. 1 against Kansas Wesleyan. Tipoff is 5:30 p.m. in Salina, Kan.
Women’s Basketball 2011-12 HAAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1 Evangel (8) – 78 points
2 Avila – 69 points
3 Benedictine – 66 points
4 Graceland (1) – 54 points
5 MidAmerica Nazarene – 49 points
6 Baker – 39 points
7 Missouri Valley – 31 points
8 Peru State – 31 points
9 Central Methodist – 20 points
10 Culver-Stockton – 13 points