Last season, the Western Nebraska Community College men's basketball broke a 17-year hiatus of being Region IX champs.
This season, the goal of the Cougar men's basketball team is to win back-to-back titles as WNCC opened official practice on Monday.
Martin Roub, a sophomore who played an important part in winning the regional title last season, said they have hefty goals this season.
"The goal is obviously the highest: win the Region IX again and go to the nationals and win there, too," the 6-foot-10 center said. "It is not going to be easy especially when we are defending champs. I think we must realize that it is not going to be easy. We need to work really hard and be really committed to our goals."
The Cougars return plenty of players that saw action a year ago. Besides Roub, also back is Jervay Green, a 6-3 guard who verbally committed to the University of Nebraska last week, Bryce Sanchious, a 6-5 guard, and Marko Rajanovic, a 6-7 forward from Serbia.
The Cougars also have two transfers who can shoot the 3-pointer. Dru Kuxhausen, a 6-0 guard played last season at Chadron State College, will have one year at WNCC along with Henry Tanksley, who played last season at Central Wyoming College.
Roub said there is plenty of talent on this team.
"I think we have a good amount of talent," he said. "But talent is not everything, and we have to work hard."
The first official day went well according to Roub.
"I think the first official practice went well," he said. "It was shorter than usual, and we have been shooting a lot."
It was an energetic practice, too, as the players know what they need to do, and they are ready to get to work in practice.
"I think that everybody is very excited to play again," Roub said. "We just have to play how we are supposed to play and it is all about us in how successful we will be."
The Cougars will practice three times this week at Cougar Palace before they take off for their first jamboree this weekend in Dallas. After the Dallas Jamboree, the Cougar men will head to Ft. Collins for a jamboree on October 13.
Roub knows that if this team wants to win, it will take a team effort. And, it will take the same things that they did a year ago when they topped Otero Junior College on Otero's home court for WNCC's first regional title since 2001.
"I think we have some good talent," he said. "But we have to make our strengths to be team performance and playing unselfishly."