Tiger basketball at home this weekend vs. NW Oklahoma State
By CONOR NICHOLL
Fort Hays State University women's basketball coach Tony Hobson didn't have to look very far to find his next assistant coach. For many years, Hobson had Carrie Hofstetter on the sideline. Hofstetter was an All-American guard at Hastings (Neb.) College, where Hobson won three NAIA national championships in his tenure.
Then, Hofstetter became Hobson's assistant coach at Hastings and for his first four years at FHSU. In the summer, Hofstetter took over the head job at Hastings. Hofstetter had spent 12 years with Hobson, four as a player and eight as a coach.
Hobson filled his assistant position with Talia Miller, who took a similar road to Hofstetter. Miller started her career at Hastings and then transferred to Fort Hays when Hobson took the new job. Miller had multiple knee surgeries in the last few years, but did manage to play about a year and a half as a guard for the Tigers. Last season, Miller was the Tigers' student assistant.
"I am used to having Talia around," Hobson said. "This is her sixth year with me as either a player or some type of an assistant. Talia is going to be fine. She is just kind of getting used to how things work. Obviously, Carrie did a great job and you always miss those people when they leave, but that's the fourth assistant coach that I have had that's gotten a head job. Three in college, one in high school, so it's not the first time that I have had to make a little adjustment."
This winter, Miller has helped Fort Hays start 2-0 with blowout victories against NAIA schools McPherson College and Bethany College.
"We are getting along fine," Hobson said. "The kids respect Talia and they listen to her and that's the main thing."
On Saturday, Fort Hays has its first test against a NCAA Division II school with a home game against Northwestern Oklahoma State University (0-1). Game time is 2 p.m. at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
"She is a fantastic asset to the team," senior guard Melissa Nelson said. "She just knows things from a player's perspective and now she is doing it as a coach, so she can point out things that we wouldn't even think about. Definitely an asset."
Lunsford seeing consistent playing time
Freshman Paige Lunsford, a first-team all-state player for Hays High School last season, has worked her way into the Tigers' rotation. Lunsford has played 23 minutes in two contests, part of 11 players who have logged at least 11 minutes.
"She isn't playing bad," Hobson said of Lunsford. "Her game time has been fine. But she is better than that in practice, and I think eventually, once she kind of gets used to the speed of the game - playing at home, she is from Hays, I think she is a little nervous."
She has averaged two points and four rebounds a contest. Sophomore center Kate Lehman leads the Tigers with 17.5 points per game.
"I watched her play quite a bit of times (at HHS)," Hobson added. "Her intellect is what is so good. That's what allows her to be a good player. She really understands the game. She is a good passer. I look for good things from her. I think she will be really good off the bench for us this year. She will continue to get better."
Men have solid test
The Tiger men have also opened 2-0 with big victories versus McPherson and Bethany. Fort Hays will play host to Northwestern Oklahoma State University on Saturday at 4 p.m. NOSU (0-2) is transitioning to the Division II level. Junior forward Dwayne Brunson leads FHSU with 16.5 points per contest.
"I think they are a pretty solid club," Johnson said. "It's going to be a much different game than our first two. They have got a kid inside they really go to, a big kid. Very quick, athletic guards. ... They have had a very challenging schedule to start the year and we're right there to win them both on the road. It's definitely jumps up from what we have been doing."