By GARY STALLARD
Clearly, Angelina College head men’s basketball coach Nick Wade has made an impression, and not just with his team’s fan base.
In his very first season at the helm, Wade and assistant coach Zac Kircher guided the 2018-2019 Roadrunners to an 18-14 record, including a second-place finish in the Region XIV South Zone and a two-deep run in the conference tournament. The team accomplished those feats despite Wade’s having inherited just two returning starters.
At Tuesday’s Region XIV Media Day in Tyler, fellow coaches recognized Wade’s efforts – and progress – by picking the Roadrunners to finish first in the zone in the pre-season coaches’ poll. Blinn was picked second, Lamar State College-Port Arthur third, Jacksonville College fourth, Lee College fifth, Coastal Bend College sixth and Victoria College seventh.
Tyler Junior College was picked first in the conference’s East Zone.
Byron Coleman’s Lady Roadrunners, coming off a 2018-2019 conference tournament win and an appearance in the national tournament, were picked fourth in the conference poll behind Trinity Valley, Tyler and Kilgore. The Lady ‘Runners return just two starters from last year.
Following the ’18-’19 run, Coleman earned the NJCAA District L Coach of the Year award, while assistant coach Randy McKelvey was named the WBCA’s Assistant Coach of the Year.
In a pre-season interview held earlier this week, Wade spoke of last season’s successes and how tough it would be to carry them over into the new year.
“Last year was a good first step in this process,” Wade said. “I think the biggest thing I took from it all was the entire process, and how important every single detail of the process is. Wins and losses will come and go, but there was a lot to be excited about. Those guys gave a tremendous amount of effort and heart, and they gave us a great first step in our building process here.”
For his second season, Wade will have the benefit of several returning players, and those men are expected to help the new faces transition into the staff’s expectations.
“They (the sophomores) know the foundational piece has been set, and I’ve got to give them credit,” Wade said. “Those returners have done a great job in keeping up with what we started last year and building on that. Guys are where they’re supposed to be, they’re working really hard and they’re representing the college with class. As long as they do that, we’ll continue the trend of doing things the right way.”
The Roadrunners host Up Tempo Academy at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2 in the final scrimmage of the year. AC then will host McLennan College in the regular-season opener at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
The Roadrunner women open the regular season as participants in the McLennan Classic in Waco (Nov. 1 and 2) and in the Tyler Classic in Tyler (Nov. 8 and 9) before hosting their first home game on Tuesday, Nov. 12 against Southern Shreveport.
The e-mail address for AC’s Sports Information Director is firstname.lastname@example.org.