The good news for the Fort Hays State University men’s basketball team is three of its final four games are inside Gross Memorial Coliseum.
There really isn’t any bad news at this point in the season, other than the fact FHSU has a lot of work to do if it hopes to stay in position for a first-round home game in the MIAA Tournament.
Tiger head coach Mark Johnson figures it’s going to take at least two wins to get that done, if not winning three of the final four.
The first is Thursday’s 7:30 p.m. tip against Northeastern State University, a team that FHSU took to double overtime for a victory just six days ago in Tahlequah, Okla.
“We’ve got to win,” Johnson said. “Three does it for sure, and two would be questionable. Less than two, probably not going to get it.”
Not much has changed in the past week. FHSU sits in the middle of the pack among eight teams with all vying for either first-round home games or even first-round byes and a top four MIAA finish. FHSU is 14-10 overall and 7-8 and tied for seventh in the conference. The top four receive a bye with the next four receiving a home game in the first round.
“If we win these two games this week, we’ll have a great chance of having a home game,” Tiger junior center Brady Werth said. “I don’t know exactly, but we might have a pretty good chance to stay in the run for the top four.”
The Tigers hope being at GMC this week will provide a little more cushion against Northeastern State, a team all but out out of the hunt for any chance at a first-round home game. The RiverHawks are 7-17 overall and 3-12 in the conference, but forced overtime last week where FHSU narrowly escaped.
“Hopefully, we don’t get to that point again. We need to slow them down a little bit,” Johnson said of NSU, a team with not much height, but good shooting guards. “They’re a dangerous team, and defensively at times we struggled against them.”
If the Tigers can get past Thursday with a victory, UCO enters GMC likely still alone in fifth place. A victory there — coupled with a win Thursday — would put FHSU back above .500 in conference and in better position entering the final week of the regular season.
“Huge advantage on our part,” Werth said of playing three of the final four at home. “We need to win two of them, if not all three of our home games, and we’ll be sitting in pretty good position.”