UCO men’s basketball takes 2022 MIAA title
At Saturday’s final game of the 2021-22 season at Hamilton Field House, UCO men’s basketball defeated Missouri Southern 95-76, claiming their first MIAA regular season title since joining the league 10 years ago.
The Vista spoke with Head Coach Bob Hoffman about the significance of Saturday’s win and what it took to get here and become champions. He said the work began last spring after their postseason loss to Northwest Missouri.
“We had to address a couple of things,” he said. “First of all, we needed to be better at who we were, and just be really… together more and everything we’re doing, so we focused on being able to do it from inside out, and no matter what the circumstances around us were, not let the circumstance define us, but that we would define our circumstances.”
Hoffman said he’s excited about what’s next.
“Because of our depth and our mindset of what we’ve been able to accomplish, and just really how hard the guys have worked at it, now I think we’ll have another jump in our belief in what we can do collectively, after what just transpired.”
Hoffman also said his team’s chemistry has been a big factor in their success, and compares positively to last year’s performance.
“It’s just night and day how they interact with each other and hang out and spend time together. They’ve really bonded,” Hoffman said. “Not all teams that win have that characteristic, but this team definitely does and they really care at a high level for each other and are excited for each other’s success. And that’s demonstrated the way we’ve played and the way they share the ball and lead the league in assists.”
Hoffman said he wants to make sure his team is recognized and he gives credit to the coaching staff as well.
“They’ve spent enormous amount of time with these guys individually working on their games and individual workouts, basketball-wise, and their character aspect of the game and developing these guys. I just want to make sure they’re recognized in the midst of all that.”
“Our coaching staff has done a great job and I’m blessed to have great assistants,” he said.
Regarding Saturday’s big win, assistant coach Matt Mossman said he’s “just really happy for our guys.”
“The work they’ve put in, the adversity they’ve overcome over the course of the season… to win a regular season championship is special. We have really good kids so it’s cool to see them accomplish this. They earned every bit of it,” Mossman said.
UCO Athletic Director Stan Wagnon said, “It’s such a special opportunity to clinch a conference championship on your home floor, and I’m just so happy our student-athletes were able to experience that. It’s a memory they’ll cherish forever.”
The Bronchos had to go to work on Saturday to earn the trophy. They trailed the Lions by as many as five points all game, until the early part of the second half. A 5-0 run of their own put the Bronchos ahead.
Jaden Wells scored a team high 18 points, had nine rebounds and five assists. Callen Haydon scored 17 points, along with eight assists and five rebounds. Camryn Givens scored 15 points and had four rebounds. Isaiah Wade added 14 points and five rebounds.
From the bench, Davon Richardson scored 14 points. Preston Aymond scored eight points, Jalyn Turner added 7 points, and Carson Calavan added 2 points onto the board as well.
The Bronchos finished the regular season with a 23-5 record and posted an 18-4 record in the MIAA.
UCO will be the No. 1 seed in the MIAA Basketball Championships, which will be held next week in Kansas City, MO. What can we expect from the Bronchos?
“This group is hungry for more. We’re just going to take it one day at a time and try to go 1-0 every single day,” Mossman said. He’s “excited to see how much more noise [the team] can make in Kansas City.”
“It’s going to be a special weekend but I’m just excited to be the number one seed and just see what we can do with it,” Hoffman said.
The Bronchos will play Thursday at 6 p.m. against the winner of the (8) Central Missouri and (9) Northeastern State game, which is set to play on Wednesday.
This story has been edited to reflect newly received information.