MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Buckles says it wasn’t difficult to piece together this year’s schedule for ECTC Barons (10/21)

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Dr. Dale Buckles said the rest of the Kentucky’s men’s college basketball programs welcomed the state’s newest program – well, sort of – with open arms.
Buckles, Elizabethtown Com-munity & Technical College’s chief student affairs officers and a former coach of both Barons men’s and women’s teams, said it wasn’t that difficult to piece together the Barons’ 21-game schedule for this winter.
That’s pretty good considering the Barons have no conference to rely on – which means no mandatory games to count on – no true home court (although the Barons are slated to play all seven home games at T.K. Stone Middle School) and a limited travel budget (since the program is entirely funded by donations).
“The colleges have been real good,” Buckles said. “They’ve really worked with us. They have JV teams who need games, too, so it’s a positive for both of us. And the closer to home, the easier it is on the students, so they don’t have to be out so late or gone so long crammed into a van and driving for three or four hours. Then you don’t have to get out of that van and try to play. So it’s good to have teams close to home.”
The Barons, fielding a team for the first time in more than 31 years, have two-game home-and-home sets with junior varsity squads from six in-state NAIA or NCAA Division-III programs, including the Asbury University Eagles (away Dec. 10, home Jan. 12), the Campbellsville Univer-sity Tigers (away Nov. 6, home Dec. 5), the Georgetown College Tigers (away today, home Nov. 3), the Lindsey Wilson College Blue Raiders (away Nov. 13, home Jan. 18), the Mid-Conti-nent University Cougars (away Jan. 23, home Jan. 30) and the St. Catharine College Patriots (away Nov. 26, home Dec. 13).
Those six schools account for more than half of the Barons’ schedule. ECTC actually has two road games against Asbury, with the second one Jan. 25 in Wilmore.
“Not counting those, we’ve probably contacted seven or eight other schools,” Buckles said.
The Barons will play three out-of-state games against NJCAA junior colleges coming off winning seasons, facing the Kaskaskia (Central, Ill.) College Blue Devils on Nov. 11, the Wabash Valley (Mt. Carmel, Ill.) College Blue Raiders on Nov. 20 and the Volunteer State (Galla-tin, Tenn.) Community College Pioneers on Jan. 14.
*** Kaskaskia played at ECTC earlier this year in the inaugural Barons women’s soccer game. Former North Hardin boys’ basketball stars Jermaine Ruttley and Jauan Akins play for Kaskaskia. Since 1983, more than 20 Kaskaskia players have signed with NCAA D-I teams, including Eastern Kentucky’s Dayvon Ellis (played for Kaskaskia from 2006-08), Western Kentucky’s Jeff Rogers (1990-92), Murray State’s Darren Hill (89-91) and Morehead State’s Jason McCain (89-91).
Kaskaskia is coming off a 22-8 season.
*** Former Elizabethtown prep star Antwain Barbour led Wabash Valley to a NJCAA national championship before going on to play at Kentucky. Like Kaskaskia, Wabash Valley has had more than a dozen players land with NCAA D-I teams.
Wabash Valley is coming off a 27-10 season in which it finished eighth in the NJCAA Tourna-ment in Hutchinson, Kan.
*** Former Elizabethtown prep standout Kristen Todd played softball at Volunteer State, while former John Hardin standout Paul Pickerell and ex-Central Hardin standout Anthony Thorn are on the Pioneers’ current baseball roster.
The Pioneers are coming off a 15-14 season.
The Barons’ remaining games are on the road against Kentucky Christian University Knights’ varsity (Jan. 19), a home game with the West Kentucky Comm-unity & Technical College Stars (Nov. 9) and three games in West Kentucky’s round-robin tournament (two games Feb. 2, one game Feb. 3).
More games could be added, though. Southern Tech Academy could add the Barons as STA is in the region to play St. Catharine (Nov. 28), Lindsey Wilson (Nov. 30) and Camp-bellsville (Dec. 2). This means a STA-ECTC matchup could happen Nov. 27, Nov. 29 or Dec. 1.
Southern Illinois University Carbondale, the defending NIRSA/NCCS college club national champion, has contacted ECTC about an opening in its tournament Nov. 30-Dec. 2.
Buckles said the school has also been in contact with Centre College, Transylvania University and the University of Pikeville.
“Hopefully next year we’ll get started a little bit earlier. Hopefully we can get on some other schools’ schedules like the Centres and the Transys,” Buck-les said. “There are enough schools close to home that I think we could add six to eight games and not break the travel budget.”
Nathaniel Bryan can be reached at (270) 505-1758 or nbryan@thenewsenterprise.com