Summer School in the Southland Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 14th, 2010


Russell Burnett is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference.

Around The SLC:

  • Back To School: Former NBA lottery pick Corliss Williamson was hired as head coach of the University of Central Arkansas on March 12. Williamson was an NCAA All-American at the University of Arkansas and an NBA champion with the Detroit Pistons. Williamson coached the last three years at Arkansas Baptist.
  • Out With The Old, In With The New: Sam Houston State University hired assistant coach Jason Hooten to run the Bearkats’ operation after long-time head coach Bob Marlin fled to greener pastures as he accepted the job at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. ULL hired Marlin after he led SHSU to the NCAA Tournament, where the Kats lost a close game to Baylor. Marlin coached the Bearkats for 12 years.
  • UTSA Sticks With Thompson: The University of Texas-San Antonio decided its program is in good hands with Brooks Thompson at the helm and gave him a three-year contract extension through the 2014-15 season. Thompson has coached the Roadrunners for four years and checks in with a career mark of 37-51, but posted a winning campaign of 17-12 in 2009-10.
  • Called Up: The wait is finally over for Central Arkansas, which was notified in mid-July by the NCAA that the school achieved Division-I active membership after a five-year transition process.
  • Latching On: After concluding their basketball careers, former SLC players Patrick Sullivan (Southeastern Louisiana) and Kevin Palmer (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi) both found their way onto NBA Summer League rosters in July. Sullivan played for the Memphis Grizzlies, while Palmer ran the court for the Washington Wizards.
  • Parlez Vous Francais: Former UT-Arlington guard Marquez Haynes signed a contract with Chalon in the French First Division to begin playing in 2010-11. Haynes averaged 22.6 points per game last year.

Corliss Williamson takes the reins at UCA, but is he ready for the challenge? (ucasports.com)

Power Rankings:

EAST

  1. Nicholls State (11-19, 7-9): The Colonels had an up-and-down season, but finished strong with a close 62-57 loss to SLC champion SHSU in the conference tournament. The big news for the Colonels is that they didn’t have a single senior on the roster, therefore, all five starters return, including first-team all-SLC pick Anatoly Bose (21.1 PPG). This will be a big jump for Nicholls, but they definitely have the offensive firepower to make a run.
  2. Southeastern Louisiana (19-12, 10-6): The Lions only lost one star player, but Patrick Sullivan is a huge loss. The 6’9 Sullivan led SELA with 15.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game last season and could find himself on an NBA roster when the season begins. The Lions will have their next six top scorers returning, but will have to find someone to man the middle.
  3. McNeese State (10-20, 5-11) – The Cowboys won only two of their last nine games and failed to qualify for the conference tournament, but only lose Diego Kapelan, who was their second-leading scorer. McNeese can run out several players who are 6’7 or taller, but will need to find a better offensive unit if they are to make a run toward the SLC tourney.
  4. Lamar (14-18, 5-11): It could be a make or break season for Lamar coach Steve Roccaforte. The Cardinals missed the SLC Tourney last year and cleaned house this offseason. With only three seniors on the team last year, Lamar signed seven new players to its team, but those players could have a big impact. The recruiting class featured the Nos. 1, 4 and 15 leading scorers in junior college last year.
  5. Northwestern State (10-19, 5-11): The Demons lost Damon Jones and point guard Mike McConathy, who were both like coaches on the court. But, leading scorers Devon Baker (14 PPG) and Will Pratt (13.4 PPG) both return and it’s hard to believe a Mike McConathy-coached team will be relegated to the cellar for an extended period of time.
  6. Central Arkansas (9-21, 3-13): Despite the fact that the Bears signed NBA vet Corliss Williamson to coach them, and they are officially NCAA Division-I members, it will still be a tough hill to climb this season. UCA had several big losing streaks last year and they will be without their top two scorers, Mitch Rueter and Mike Pouncy, who both graduated.

WEST

  1. Sam Houston State (25-8, 14-2): It might be hard to imagine that the Bearkats could recover from losing their coach and three-fifths of their starting lineup, but it could happen. Sam Houston lost Preston Brown, Corey Allmond and Ashton Mitchell to graduation, but their reserves played a good bit last year and Mr. Everything Gilbert Clavell (17.1 PPG, 6.4 RPG) returns. Plus, the rest of the teams in the West division lost a majority of their top players.
  2. Stephen F. Austin: (23-9, 11-5): The Lumberjacks lost three key players in point guard Eric Bell and guard Walt Harris (both to graduation) and Orren Tims (transfer), but they will try to reload with several returning players who were big keys to their success last year. Backup point guard Denzel Barnes started the last six games of the season as well as the Southland Conference Tournament due to an injury to Bell. Jordan Glynn and Jereal Scott will help down low and you can never count out a Danny Kaspar-led team.
  3. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (17-15, 10-6): The Islanders lose a huge component in Kevin Palmer, but Demond Watt, Justin Reynolds and Horace Bond all return as seniors. Coach Perry Clark is a master recruiter and added a veteran assistant coach in Kim Lewis, who should help the Islanders in their quest for the West crown.
  4. Texas-San Antonio (19-11, 9-7): Just because they lost nearly their entire team to graduation doesn’t mean point guard Devin Gibson and coach Brooks Thompson will free-fall anytime soon. UTSA lost 53 points per game to graduation, but return gritty guard Gibson and athletic Melvin Johnson, who averaged 7.7 points per game last year as a true freshman. Thompson signed two foreign players in his class of recruits who, on paper, could be difference makers.
  5. Texas State (15-16, 9-7): Alumni and fans are ready for the Bobcats to make the jump into the upper echelon of the SLC, but the team might not be ready to make the move just yet. TSU had a tough time scoring last year, but lose only John Rybak (9.6 PPG) among their top scorers. The Bobcats didn’t get much in terms of impact players in their recruiting haul, so a middle-of-the-pack finish could happen again.
  6. Texas-Arlington (16-14, 8-8): The Mavericks are in the same boat at UTSA, having lost nearly its entire starting lineup, but unlike the Roadrunners, UTA will be hard-pressed to find players to replace those lost to graduation. LaMarcus Reed III averaged 8.1 points per game and is the lone returning player close to double digits.

What’s Next:

  • Does Nicholls State have the mentality to take it to the next level and win a conference championship?
  • Can Corliss Williamson, who has never been a head coach, battle through this season and get UCA to become a respectable team year in and year out?
  • Can new SHSU coach Jason Hooten run the show for the Bearkats and keep the team at the high level it is accustomed to under Bob Marlin?
  • Will Devin Gibson be able to take over games and provide the leadership needed to give UTSA a chance this year?
  • Is Lamar junior guard Anthony Miles ready to step up and become an elite player in the conference?
  • Can Lamar coach Steve Roccaforte use the junior college route as a means to get back to the conference tournament? And will he be allowed to have another mediocre season?
Brian Goodman (750 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.


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