Siloam Springs, Ark. (December 14, 2001) - The John Brown University men and women's basketball teams look prepared for Sooner Athletic Conference play beginning in January. After posting solid pre-conference records, men (10-2) and women (8-3), the Golden Eagles seem ready for the upcoming battles of the SAC. Golden Eagles fans in the community are well aware of the caliber of basketball played in the SAC.
"We have some of the most loyal fans in small college athletics, our student body and community provide an excellent atmosphere that is hard to match. Anyone who makes it out to watch JBU basketball, especially during SAC play, is in for a real treat. Most people are amazed at the caliber of athletes and basketball played in the SAC," head coach John Sheehy.
The JBU men look to improve on last year's best ever 9-7 mark in SAC play. Sheehy's Golden Eagles have definitely made their mark on the SAC. Entering their seventh season in the SAC, which is arguably the strongest small college basketball conference in the nation for both men and women, the Golden Eagles have climbed to near the top of the 10-team conference. The past 3 seasons, JBU has set a school record by winning a total of 55 games, while averaging over 18 wins a season and finishing near the top of the SAC each year. The past two seasons, JBU has also for the first time ever climbed into the NAIA Division I national rankings. Currently the Golden Eagles are unranked, but this early in the season it is something Sheehy tries to keep in perspective.
"There is no argument that rankings are important in the NAIA. Postseason play and at-large bids to the NAIA National Tournament are primarily based on overall record. We try to play at least half of our non-conference games on the road and against SAC caliber teams. We feel this best prepares our team for the rigors of SAC play. With 18 very difficult SAC contest coming after Christmas, the opportunity is there for us to climb into the ranking and achieve our goal of a first ever trip to the National Tournament."
With 8 seniors and all five returning starters back, look for the Sheehy's Golden Eagles to do just that.
Winning four consecutive national championships, women's basketball in the SAC has been nothing shy of dominate over the past few years. The JBU women have made strong strides under coach Jeff Soderquist in moving closer to the top of the pack.
"One of the nice things about playing in the SAC is you know exactly what the measuring stick for success is. We have taken steps each season adding necessary ingredients of what it takes to compete in the SAC. Size, balance, and depth are three areas we feel this year we have really improved. Wins like the one we had last season over eventual National Champion OCU continue to propel us in the right direction," head women's coach Jeff Soderquist.
That same Oklahoma City University team comes to Siloam Springs on January 3 in the Golden Eagles SAC opener. The women once again undefeated and ranked no.1, while the OCU men are ranked 8 in the latest NAIA poll.
"From what I have heard and seen they are even better than what they were last year. They have a couple of 30 plus point wins over other top 5 ranked teams already this year. It will be a big test for us, hopefully we can duplicate last season when both us and the men swept both of them," commented coach Soderquist.
With the JBU student body not returning for classes until Monday, Jan. 7th, the Golden Eagles will have to rely more on local community support when they take on the Stars of Oklahoma City University. Come out and support your Golden Eagles.