BY CAYDEN SANDERS
The Fort Hays men’s and women’s basketball coaches were the last to speak at the 2021 MIAA basketball media day in Kansas City on Tuesday. Head coach of the women’s basketball team Tony Hobson opened up by saying that he hopes this year’s media poll is going to be better than last year’s media poll referencing the Tigers being picked fifth in last year’s poll. The FHSU women are picked first in this year’s poll.
Hobson said that always being picked at the top of the league is always a starting spot. He mentioned that the women’s team would return all of the starters from last year, but they won’t be healthy when the season starts as they are still recovering from their late-season Injuries from the season prior.
Hobson finished his remarks by saying that returning all those players that had great seasons in the past does not mean that they will have a great season this year and that players need to come back and get ready to work for another season.
Men’s head coach Mark Johnson took the stage by talking about his team. He opened up by saying that going .500 is not what they are looking for, but they lost some players in the season and said that younger players played more than what we expected but we hope that that experience shows this year.
Johnson mentioned that first-team all league player, Jared Vitztum, is coming back this year because of a COVID year, which will prove to be big as Viztum led the nation in double-doubles in last year’s season.
Questions were opened up to the media and the coaches, and then to the public that asked questions through Twitter.
Johnson was asked about their game against Kansas State last season, and how much of a confidence boost knocking off a Division I school in an exhibition game was for his team.
“I think winning at Kansas State was huge, for us, for our program, to our athletic department, and our school as it was everywhere in the media,” Johnson said. “I think that says a lot about our league as we finished in the middle of the pack and we beat a division I team like Kansas State.”
The final question was for both coaches as one person asked what it is like to play in Gross Memorial Coliseum and having the fans and the band pack the stadium to watch the two programs and then to travel for the MIAA tournament game in Kansas City.
“We feel spoiled by having the facilities that we do, and think we have the best one in this conference,” Johnson said.
Johnson also mentioned that Fort Hays sees one of the best attendance in the conference by its fans, and sid they are lucky to have the fans and the support that they do.
He also said that the fans showed out when Hobson and the women’s team hosted the regional tournament in Hays a couple of years ago and how packed the stadium was, and mentioned the football team and how well the fan attendance is in those games.
Hobson added that he loves the fans and how dedicated they are to Tiger Athletics. He mentioned that he is appreciative of the band, dance team, and cheerleaders who were there at every game and said that you just don’t see that everywhere in this conference and we are just so lucky to have that.
The FHSU women open the season Nov. 12 against Southeastern Oklahoma State in St. Joseph, Mo. while the men open at home on Nov. 13 against Arkansas Tech.