Going into this weekend, the Eagles’ record is perfect, but they are not. After a 7-0 start, the Eagles will play a short but challenging December schedule.
“These early games have been good for us and have shown us some things that we really got to work at and improve,” said men’s head coach Clark Sheehy. “We’ve got to get a lot better and we know that.”
The Eagles will face Williams Baptist at home on Friday.
JBU will be coming off a 79-67 victory over Lyon on Tuesday.
The WBC Eagles are led by both senior forward Kevin Harvey, who is averaging 21 points per game and senior guard Phillip Sykes, who has a team-leading 32 assists.
The Eagles will host another home game against Oklahoma Wesleyan on Dec. 1. They will face off against an Eagles team whose leader, junior guard Devin Harris, is averaging 17.25 points per game and has 23 steals, the 6th most in the country.
The men will head to California after three more games in the area.
In California, the Golden Eagles will play nationally ranked Westmont (CA) and British-Columbia-based Trinity Western in the Cal State-San Marcos Classic on Dec. 18-19.
Sheehy hopes that by scheduling a high-level non-conference opponent that the Golden Eagles can prepare for the high level of play in the Sooner Athletic Conference and continue to improve.
“It’s a long year and the important thing is how we progress throughout the year,” said Sheehy. “It’s the process. It’s how you play, how you defend, how we execute our offense.”
On defense, the team could improve its defense of high quality players and high quality teams.
Our defense has got to get tighter and tougher when it comes to not giving up easy baskets,” he said. “Good teams have good players; good players will make good plays. As we get… ready for conference, we can’t give good teams easy baskets and good players easy looks because then good players will make hard looks.”
Another benefit the Eagles gained is experiencing the aftermath of a disappointing loss without the loss. On paper at least.
John Brown lost to NCAA Division II Missouri Southern 83-63 in an exhibition on Nov. 9. The loss does not count towards JBU’s record, but Sheehy and the players thought it was a game they could have won and a game they should have played better in.
However, what struck Sheehy most about the loss was how the team responded.
“One of the positive signs that I’ve seen so far with this team is how they’ve come back from [the loss]. We had a good practice after we got back,” said Sheehy. “The response showed me about the character of the team.”
This season’s conference schedule starts in January, a later date than in previous years, giving the Golden Eagles more time to prepare.
“It’s been helpful for this group… to let us grow together and get on the same page and just improve before we have to play league games,” he said.