What should each Hilltoppers team attempt to resolve in 2015?


We are over 24 hours into the new year, and the Hilltoppers have yet to disappoint us in any significant way! I call that a win in and of itself. And, while 2014 was an exciting, significant and memorable year for WKU, why can’t 2015 be just as – if not more – memorable?

Whether its the Brohm Squad heading into their second year, the continuation of yet another year with MCH and Ray Harper at the helm of the basketball teams, Matt Myers entering his senior season as head man with the baseball program and so many more, there’s always room for improvement. So, without further adieu, here are what I think the 2015 New Years Resolutions should be for each WKU sport.

Nov 8, 2014; Bowling Green, KY, USA; Western Kentucky University defensive back Jalen Sleet (42) and running back Darmonte Warr (26) at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium. WKU defeated UTEP 35-27. Mandatory Credit: Brian Powers-USA TODAY Sports

Football: Improve the defense.
This one should come as no shock to anyone who knows anything about Conference USA, but the defense needs to improve. Just think of how good the Hilltoppers would have been with a halfway competent defense. Now, I know that sounds mean, and I know they played tough on the road against Navy and closed the year out well with solid play on that side of the ball (with the exception of against Marshall), double digit leads were blown against UAB, Illinois and FAU. But, you hang onto those games, you’re looking at a double-digit win season in their first year as a C-USA member. That, and you’re looking at maybe not the almost-worse-loss in a bowl game ever? Just throwing it out there.

Honorable mentions: Keep the offensive pressure on in the second half, Don’t lose Brohm to a bigger program

Marcus Browning- Wave the Red Towel: George Fant, Ben Lawson, Brandon Price, and T.J. Price in game verses Bowling Green State University.

Men’s Basketball: Win 13 conference games
The CUSA conference schedule is 18 games. 13 Hilltopper victories mean WKU goes 13-5 (take THAT, MTSU fans. I can do math!). 13-5 conference record, plus the 7-5 mark the Tops put together in the non-conference schedule would mean the regular season ends with yet another 20-win season, something that many WKU fans seem to forget about happened in the final Sun Belt year. And, while CUSA is a stronger basketball conference than the Sun Belt was, there’s only a separation with the top four teams (of which, WKU plays six times) and the rest of the conference, but if you want to, you can make an argument for the Tops to be at the top of the middle of the pack. I think I just confused myself there. Anyway, another 20-win season, especially one in the first year of the conference, would be awesome and would guarantee themselves a ticket to the conference tournament, where as we all know better than anyone, anything goes.

Honorable mentions: Have Justin Johnson win the starting spot over George Fant, Have four of the starting five drop double figures every night.

Mar 22, 2014; Waco, TX, USA Western Kentucky Toppers guard Chaney Means (2) talks to her team during a timeout from the game against the Baylor Bears in the first half of a women

Women’s Basketball: Advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament
The expectations were high coming into the year for Michelle Clark-Heard’s ladies, and if the non-conference schedule holds any indication of what it’ll be like come conference play, I think its safe to assume the Lady Tops are in line for a second straight appearance to the Big Dance. Also having said that, the weight of being in (and possibly running over) CUSA is much greater than the Sun Belt, so say good bye to the days of being a low double-digit seed. MTSU, who was the lone CUSA representative in last year’s tourney, was an eight seed. Eight! So, if the dominance continues as I think it will, the Lady Tops will be gearing up for a run in the tourney.

Honorable mention: Don’t fall flat in conference play, Stay healthy

Baseball: Get past the first round of the conference tournament
Just about the only sport that doesn’t see a huge decrease in talent is baseball, which doesn’t necessarily bode well for WKU. Head coach Matt Myers also likes to put together a pretty heavy and competitive non-conference schedule, and this year’s is no different. Power house Rice comes to the Hill, Old Dominion isn’t bad…the long and the short of it, CUSA is a more than adequate baseball conference and, while the Tops have started to see some more consistent regular season success under Myers, they haven’t advanced in a conference tournament in quite some time. If they can get that monkey off their back, it’ll be a good start to their tenure in the conference.

Honorable mention: Fix the bullpen

Softball: Keep building under Amy Tudor
I hate to admit it, but I don’t know too terribly much about Conference USA in terms of softball, but it can’t be much more difficult than having two top-25 teams like the Fun Belt did last year in ULL and South Al. WKU will come into 2015 off a 33-win year, so there isn’t too terribly much to improve upon. Keep growing and building with Amy Tudor and follow in the footsteps of football and volleyball and make no mistake that WKU is here to compete right away in CUSA.

Volleyball: Repeat as conference champions
At any given moment, there were five underclassmen on the floor for Travis Hudson’s volleyball squad, and they only lost one CUSA game, were crowned as co-champions and, eventually, the CUSA tournament title. And they’re just beginning. Jessica Lucas, Alyssa Cavanaugh, Georgia O’Connell, Kaelin Grimes, both Engles – they’ll all be back, plus another nationally ranked recruiting class. Winning has become a tradition for the volleyball program, and anything less in 2015 will be a disappointment.

Soccer: Advance in the conference tournament
Yes, this is a repeat of baseball’s resolution and can be seen as a cop-out, but let me explain. With a roster that included 18 of its 22 players as underclassmen, the WKU soccer team was still able to find a way to sneak into the conference tournament before ultimately falling to Rice (who wound up winning it all, so what are you going to do?). 2015 will see those underclassmen have a full year under their belt and a full year as a team under their belt as well, so not only is making the tournament expected, but I’m setting the goal to make the semi-finals.

So, there you have it. A resolution for every team the Tops will field in 2015. Did I get anything right? Or maybe anything horribly wrong? What are your expectations for the Hilltoppers in 2015? Let us know below in a comment or on twitter @WaveTheRedTowel.