Nov. 17—The Odessa College men’s basketball team left the Permian Basin two weeks ago ranked seventh in the nation.
After thousands of miles and seven games, the Wranglers return home No. 5 and ready to play in front of their home fans.
Odessa College will host the Wrangler Shootout, Friday through Sunday, at the OC Sports Center.
The event includes Midland College, New Mexico Junior College, Blinn College, Cochise College and Utah State Eastern.
Play begins at noon each day, with the Wranglers set to take the court at 4 pm to close out each session.
They will face Utah State Eastern on Friday, Cochise College on Saturday and close out the event against Blinn College Sunday afternoon.
“It’s going to be nice to play in front of our fans,” Wranglers head coach Kris Baumann said. “Midland College is ranked No. 25 and Cochise is No. 23 and they are going to meet the first day.
“All the schools are going to be competitive so everyone is going to have to be ready to go. We had a good road trip and that should help us.”
This is the second year for the tournament, the brainchild of Baumann and Odessa College Director of Athletics Wayne Baker as they look to showcase the strong junior college programs in West Texas.
There were four teams last year, six this time around and eventually Baumann would like to have eight teams competing through a bracket for a true tournament title.
He admits, however, that it’s tough to get the top programs to travel to Odessa as the tournament is in its infancy.
“The goal would be to have four strong West Texas teams against four of the top teams in the nation,” Baumann said. “Us, South Plains, Howard, Midland College, New Mexico JC and then maybe Indian Hills, Salt Lake Community College, Northwest Florida.
“Have a true bracket to where you win to advance or go to a consolation bracket and try to win that. I think that West Texas basketball is some of the best in the country, so it would be nice to see us compete against the top programs and that is only going to help later in the season.”
Baumann pointed to his preseason schedule for the 2021-22 season as a prime example as the Wranglers went 8-5 after facing the likes of Salt Lake and Northwest Florida, programs that squared off for the NJCAA Division I title in Hutchinson, Kan.
He felt that early-season action helped Odessa College go 16-0 in WJCAC play and make a run to the Elite 8 at the national tournament, where they lost to Salt Lake by a basket.
One of the teams already booked for next year’s event is the College of Southern Idaho, which will make the trip to the Permian Basin after the Wranglers started their season in Twin Falls, Idaho at the Eagles’ season-opening event.
“It was a great tournament for us,” Baumann said. “Played the final game against Southern Idaho in front of 3,000 people, just a great atmosphere.
“Then we went to Oklahoma for two games, playing five games in six days to start the season. And if you want to win the national title, you have to win five games in six days at Hutch and that’s what we are preparing for. “