RTC Conference Primers: #28 – Southland Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 6th, 2011

Zach Birdsong of The Houstonian is the RTC correspondent for Southland Conference. You can find him on Twitter at @zachbird_nerd

Readers’ Take I

Top Storylines

  • McNeese State Returns Championship Squad: Last season, the McNeese State Cowboys finished conference play with an 11-5 record. That was enough to claim the regular season league title, but the team was knocked out of the conference tournament by UT-San Antonio. McNeese returns eight players from last year’s team, though, including team MVP and All-Southland Conference forward Patrick Richard. With an experienced team, the Cowboys are hoping to break through to win the conference tournament and get to the Big Dance for the first time in ten years.
  • A Knight In Sight: Pat Knight, son of legendary head coach Bobby Knight, was signed as Lamar‘s new head coach. After being fired from Texas Tech back in March, the Cardinals signed him to take over the program in April. With a new setting and bringing his Big 12 experience to the Southland, it will be interesting to see if Knight can improve on last season’s disappointing 7-9 finish.
  • Bearkats Move On Without ClavellSam Houston State will be without star forward and Southland Conference Player of the Year Gilberto Clavell, as he graduated in May. Clavell averaged 19.5 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game last season. Head coach Jason Hooten will be bringing in a younger team as he looks to limit any slippage as a result of Clavell’s departure.

Pat Knight Is Ready To Lean In For His First Season At The Helm Of Lamar's Program.

Predicted Order of Finish

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Checking in on… the Southland

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 14th, 2011

Russell Burnett is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference.

A Look Back

  • Statistically Speaking: The McNeese State Cowboys lead the East Division in the Southland Conference with a 2-0 mark, but they don’t lead in any of the team statistical categories. Individually, senior P.J. Alawoya leads the SLC in defensive rebounding with 5.7 boards per game.
  • Two D-I Wins: Suffice it to say that the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders played a tough non-conference schedule, but the season still hasn’t been what their fans thought it would be. The Islanders’ only D-I wins have come over Bethune-Cookman and the University of Houston en route to a disappointing 5-11 mark thus far.
  • Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: Heralded Kentucky transfer A.J. Stewart played in all of 12 games before being dismissed by Texas State. It is unclear why the 6’9 forward was kicked off the team. He averaged 9.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in 12 games.
  • Player of the Week: Lamar guard Mike James made national headlines by scoring 52 points against Louisiana College to earn SLC Player of the Week honors. James followed up the outburst with 22 points against Central Arkansas.

Power Rankings

  1. Stephen F. Austin (10-4, 1-1) – The Lumberjacks barely hold down the No. 1 spot after losing their SLC opener to Southeastern Louisiana 64-54, but bounced back with a win over Central Arkansas. SFA faces big tests in UTSA and UT-Arlington next week.
  2. McNeese State (10-5, 2-0) jumps up from No. 5 into the second spot after going 2-0 to open SLC play with wins over A&M-CC and Lamar. Patrick Richard (14.9 ppg) and Diego Kapelan (13.7 ppg.) remain the steady forces for the Cowboys, who test Texas State and SELA next week.
  3. Sam Houston State (8-7, 1-1) – The Bearkats hang onto the No. 3 spot by the skin of their teeth after a road win over UTSA and a home loss to UT-Arlington. Gilberto Clavell continues to carry SHSU on his back, but teams are starting to realize the Kats don’t have very good perimeter shooting and are double-teaming Clavell (19.3 ppg).
  4. Southeastern Louisiana (7-6, 1-0) – The Lions make the move from No. 7 to No. 4 by virtue of a ten-point win over Stephen F. Austin in their SLC home opener. SELA faces A&M-CC and McNeese State in its next two games.
  5. UTSA (7-7, 1-1) – The Roadrunners barely lost to SHSU, then defeated A&M-CC to even its SLC mark. Two games next week against SFA and Northwestern State will give the UTSA faithful a look at how good this team might be.
  6. Nicholls State (7-6, 1-1) – The Colonels played a very tough non-conference schedule and split their first two conference games. Anatoly Bose (23.5 points per game) needs help, and he often gets it from Fred Hunter (15.8 ppg), but after those two players, it’s rough for the Colonels to score. NSU faces Sam Houston and Central Arkansas in its next two contests.
  7. UT-Arlington (7-8, 1-1) – The Mavericks were hammered by Nicholls State 66-48 in the conference opener, then went on the road to dispose of SHSU. LaMarcus Reed III and Bo Ingram are the only starters in double figures. UTA will host both Lamar and A&M-CC and try to improve to 3-1.
  8. Northwestern State (9-8, 1-1) – The Demons could be ranked higher, but drop from No. 4 after losing five of their last six, including an embarrassing defeat to LSU Shreveport. Northwestern State bounced back and topped NSU 73-64. Things could get better as they face UCA and UTSA.
  9. Lamar (7-8, 1-1) – The Cardinals stay in the No. 9 spot after splitting their first two conference games. With his 52-point scoring effort, Mike James leads the Cardinals in scoring at 15.3 ppg. Lamar hits the road to play Texas-Arlington then battles Arkansas State in a non-SLC game.
  10. Texas State (6-9, 1-0) – The Bobcats move up from the cellar after winning their last three games. A huge week lies ahead with a road game against McNeese State and a home game with Sam Houston. Cameron Johnson (13.4 ppg) is rounding back into form as he has scored 18, 19, 19 in his last three games.
  11. Texas A&M-CC (5-11, 0-2) – The Islanders aren’t getting much from their backcourt or from senior forward Justin Reynolds these days. McNeese put a 72-49 whipping on A&M-CC, then it fell to UTSA. Reynolds averaged 8.5 points and four rebounds in the losses. Terence Jones leads the team with a meager 2.3 assists per game.
  12. Central Arkansas (4-11, 0-2) – Having lost five of their last six, the Bears started the SLC schedule with two losses. UCA doesn’t put up many impressive stats as their leading scorer, Imad Qahwash, averages 12.8 points and Chris Henson paces the team with 5.3 rebounds. Northwestern State and Nicholls State are on tap for the Bears.

A Look Ahead

After getting all the butterflies out in the first week of conference play, things will heat up this week. Nicholls State travels to Huntsville in a rematch of last year’s first-round SLC conference tilt. Bose scored 40 on the Bearkats in the loss. Other games of note include SFA on the road against UTSA on Saturday. McNeese State will battle Southeastern Louisiana in Hammond on Wednesday, Jan. 19.

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Checking in on… the Southland

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 19th, 2010

Russell Burnett is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference.

A Look Back

  • Puzzling Player: Stephen F. Austin senior Eddie Williams was selected as a preseason first-team Southland Conference pick, but the 6’2 guard is having a down year thus far. Williams is averaging only seven points and three rebounds after putting up 13 points and six boards a year ago. His shooting percentage is down nearly 16 points from last year – 51.5% last year compared to 35.9% this season.
  • Roadrunner from Australia: Texas-San Antonio freshman Jeromie Hill, from Cairns, Australia, is making an early case for Newcomer of the Year. Hill has scored in double figures in all but one game and is averaging 14.6 points and 6.5 rebounds. His best game came against Evansville, when he tallied 27 points and 12 rebounds.
  • Surprise, Surprise, Surprise: Two players who were going to be counted on by their teams have stepped up their beyond expectations this year. Texas State senior guard Tony Bishop has scored in double figures in all eight games this year after hitting double figures only 10 times last year. The 6’6 forward is averaging 13 points and 10 rebounds, compared to seven points and five boards last year. Demond Watt, a 6’8 forward for the Islanders, could challenge for player of the year honors if he keeps up his current pace. Watt is averaging 16.6 points and 10.2 rebounds and is the only Texas A&M-CC player scoring in double figures.
  • Player of the Week – UTSA junior forward Stephen Franklin earned the award after going for 18 points and nine rebounds in a five-point loss to the University of Houston. Players named as honorable mention for the award include David Ndoumba (SELA), Patrick Richard (McNeese), Gilberto Clavell (SHSU) and Jereal Scott (SFA).

Power Rankings

  1. Stephen F. Austin (6-2) – The Lumberjacks’ only two losses have come at the hands of Big 12 members Texas A&M and Texas Tech. SFA could be 10-2 heading into Southland Conference play with the biggest challenge coming December 20 at UTEP.
  2. UTSA (6-2) – The Roadrunners have played a pretty good non-conference schedule and could be sitting at 8-0, but fell on the road to Evansville and UC-Riverside. They open SLC play at home against Sam Houston State.
  3. Sam Houston State (5-3) – The Bearkats fell from the top spot of the power rankings, but their losses have come at the hands of the University of Texas, the University of Houston and Cleveland State. Gilberto Clavell leads the team with 19.8 points and 8.1 rebounds.
  4. Northwestern State (7-3) – The Demons have won six of their last seven games with the three losses coming against LSU, Memphis and Indiana. Will Pratt (17.5 PPG) and Devon Baker (15.7 PPG) lead NW State in scoring.
  5. McNeese State (6-4) – The Cowboys have three players in double figures and will have a big best right before conference play starts when they face No. 25 Texas A&M in College Station.
  6. Nicholls State (5-4) – As senior forward Anatoly Bose goes, so go the Colonels, but at times, even Bose can’t do enough. Bose is averaging 25 points a game and has topped 30 points twice. Fred Hunter provides help with 15 points a game.
  7. Southeastern Louisiana (5-3) – The Lions face two SEC teams before conference play begins. SELA hits the road to play Vanderbilt and Mississippi before opening up at home versus SFA. Senior Trent Hutchins paces the squad with 16.6 points per contest.
  8. UT-Arlington (5-3) – After four wins in a row, the Mavericks have fallen twice to North Texas and Samford, respectively. Freshman Darius Richardson was a heralded recruit coming out of Fort Bend Bush High School, and he is living up to the status, averaging 9.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists in his first go-round.
  9. Lamar (5-4) – The Cardinals played Texas tough before going down 76-55, then had Rice down by ten at halftime before losing, 75-73. Is Lamar close to tunring the corner? Senior guard Kendrick Harris paces the team in scoring at 12.8 points a clip.
  10. Texas A&M-CC (3-6) – The tough schedule continues for the Islanders as they face Houston, Memphis and Texas Tech before conference begins. They have defeated only one Division-I opponent in Bethune Cookman.
  11. Central Arkansas (3-7) – The Bears have beaten only one Division I foe in Chicago State and have #13 Missouri and Oklahoma on tap. Their leading scorer, Chris Henson, averages a paltry ten points per game.
  12. Texas State (2-6) – A preseason full of hope has turned ugly thus far. The Bobcats have lost five straight, including a 14-point defeat at home to Texas Southern. Senior Cameron Johnson is a preseason all-SLC pick, but is having a hard time staying on the court. The 6’7 forward is only playing 19 minutes a game and has fouled out of two contests and picked up four fouls in two more games.

A Look Ahead

The Southland Conference slate begins in three weeks on January 8 with a full allotment of games. In the meantime, SLC schools will play the likes of Missouri, Vanderbilt, Memphis, Ole Miss, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas A&M.

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Checking in on… the Southland

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 4th, 2010

A Look Back

  • Off to Greener Pastures: The University of Texas-San Antonio and Texas State were offered and accepted membership on Nov. 11, 2010 into the Western Athletic Conference beginning in 2012.
  • Suprise addition: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi received news before the season that guard Garland Judkins would be eligible to play this season. The 6’4 junior left Arizona in January, but was granted a hardship waiver by the NCAA after his father’s death. Judkins is averaging 6.4 points per game.
  • Top This Schedule: Southland Conference men’s basketball teams have played a murderous schedule thus far. Opponents to date include: Houston, LSU (twice), Washington, Oregon State, Texas A&M (twice), Oklahoma State (twice), Memphis, UNLV, Texas Tech, Kansas, Texas (twice), Miami and Indiana.
  • Players of the Week: Anatoly Bose, Nicholls State – The senior from Sydney, Australia, averaged 29 points in four games to grab Week 1 honors. His performances included a 28-point performance against LSU and a 37-point outburst against Oklahoma State (twice). Bose nailed five 3-pointers against OSU, which is one short of his career best.
  • Sam Houston State senior Gilberto Clavell earned Week 2 honors by posting a season-high 29 points to lead the Bearkats past Colorado State 92-81.

Power Rankings

  1. Sam Houston State (4-1) – Last year’s SLC representative in the NCAA Tournament hasn’t done much to hurt its reputation, but doesn’t exactly look like world beaters either. SHSU came back from a big halftime deficit to blast Colorado State, but looked terrible in a 34-point loss to Texas. Until the Bearkats fall off the wagon and lose a couple of games, it’s likely they will stay atop the power rankings. Gilberto Clavell is still a monster down low, averaging 19 points and eight rebounds.
  2. Stephen F. Austin (4-2) – The Lumberjacks are right on SHSU’s heels, especially after giving Texas A&M all it could handle this week in a 62-53 loss. Both Jereal Scott and Jordan Glynn lead SFA in scoring at 13.8 PPG, while Denzel Barnes is doing a nice job running the team. The Jacks will need senior guard Eddie Williams to step up his play as he is averaging 6.5 points this year compared to 13.3 last year.
  3. Nicholls State (3-2) – The Colonels have played a tough schedule thus far and have done well against the big boys. Anatoly Bose, arguably the league’s best player, is averaging 27.4 points and hit for 28 in a 62-53 win over LSU. NSU’s two losses have come at the hands of Oklahoma State and Houston.
  4. Southeastern Louisiana (4-1) – The Lions lost post Patrick Sullivan to the NBA D-League, but senior guard Trent Hutchin has helped ease that loss by averaging 20.7 ppg. SELA’s non-conference schedule thus far leaves a little to be desired, but they have won the games they were supposed to win.
  5. Northwestern State (5-3) – Just like most of the other top teams in the conference, the Demons have lost to the top teams in the country and taken wins from schools in lower classifications. Both Will Pratt (19.1) and Devon Baker (15.9) have pushed their scoring averages up from a year ago. Freshman guard Gary Stewart has been a nice surprise as NW State’s third-leading scorer.
  6. UTSA (4-2) – The Roadrunners have two veterans and one newcomer who look like they’ll carry the load this year. Senior Devin Gibson (16 PPG), sophomore Melvin Johnson III (14.7) and true freshman Jeromie Hill (14.2) have paced UTSA so far. The Roadrunners have traveled far and wide to collect their two losses – on the road to Evansville and UC-Riverside.
  7. UT-Arlington (5-2) – Despite a nice non-conference record, the Mavericks have played a poor schedule. They have four wins over NAIA schools and have losses to Oregon State and North Texas. LaMarcus Reed II has pushed his scoring average up almost nine points from a year ago to 17 PPG. The Mavericks are a young team with only one senior and four juniors on the roster.
  8. Lamar (4-3) – It may take some time for the Cardinals to mesh as they have 11 new players on the roster, including seven JuCo transfers. Lamar has played four of its seven games on the road and played #19 Texas tough before bowing by 21 points. Senior Kendrick Harris leads the team with 12.4 points per game.
  9. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (3-5) – The Islanders have played one of the toughest schedules in the conference to date, including three teams from the Big 12. Senior forward Demond Watt has been a monster on the glass with four double-figure games to go with 16.7 points a game. TAMU-CC will have to get more production from 6’9 senior forward Justin Reynolds (8.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG) if they want to make a push when conference play begins.
  10. McNeese State (3-3) – The Cowboys’ top two scorers (Diego Kapelan and Patrick Richard) from a year ago return and they will have to keep producing for any hope of a winning season. MSU came back from a 43-25 halftime deficit to defeat Louisiana-Lafayette on December 1, and Cowboy fans hope that comeback will be a sign of things to come.
  11. Texas State (2-3) – Prognosticators picked Texas State to be one of the surprise teams in the SLC this year, but an influx of transfers haven’t jelled yet. The Bobcats have played only one game on the road, and lost by one point at home to NAIA school Our Lady of the Lake. While senior Tony Bishop has been a nice surprise by improving his scoring by seven points a game and rebounding by six per game, preseason all-SLC pick Cameron Johnson is down in scoring and rebounding.
  12. Central Arkansas (2-4) – Two wins over NAIA schools and two fairly close losses to SMU and Oklahoma State won’t get the Bears out of the power rankings cellar. Imad Qahwash has become the go-to guy (13.7 PPG) despite only averaging six points last year, but the biggest surprise has been Chris Henson’s 12.5 points so far versus 1.5 last season.

A Look Ahead

  • The next two weeks will be more of the same for SLC teams as they will face Marquette, Wichita State, Mississippi State, Texas, LSU, Missouri and Vanderbilt.
  • Conference play begins in just more than a month on January 8, and in the meantime, several Southland Conference schools will try to get freshmen and JuCo transfers on the same page as the veterans on their teams.
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RTC 2010-11 Impact Players – Plains/Mountains Region

Posted by rtmsf on October 28th, 2010

For the second October in a row, we’re bringing you our RTC Impact Players series.  The braintrust has gone back and forth on this and we’ve finally settled on a group of sixty players throughout ten geographic regions of the country (five starters plus a sixth man) to represent the who and where of players you should be watching this season.  Seriously, if you haven’t seen every one of these players ball at least once by the end of February, then you need to figure out a way to get a better television package.  As always in a subjective analysis such as this, some of our decisions were difficult; many others were quite easy.  What we can say without reservation is that there is great talent in every corner of this nation of ours, and we’ll do our best to excavate it over the next five weeks in this series that will publish on Mondays and Thursdays.  Each time, we’ll also provide a list of some of the near-misses as well as the players we considered in each region, but as always, we welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments.

You can find all previous RTC 2010-11 Impact Players posts here.

Plains/Mountains Region (KS, CO, WY, OK, TX)

  • LaceDarius Dunn* – Sr, G – Baylor. Let’s get this out of the way right at the beginning: there’s no news. We know that in order for him to be an Impact Player for this region and to indeed fulfill the promise that’s implied when your name pops up on all sorts of pre-season All-America teams, LaceDarius Dunn has to actually see the floor, and as of right now he’s still suspended from competition. He’s practicing, he’s attending classes, but that suspension from games of any kind is indefinite, so what Dunn is doing most is waiting. So are we, because we want to see the guy play some more, and soon. We’ve backed LaceDarius since his first moments on the Baylor campus and we’ve enjoyed watching him grow as a basketball player during his time there. Dunn was a factor right from the start in Waco, averaging 13.6 PPG and 4.1 RPG in 22 MPG as a freshman, and he’s only gotten more impressive each season. You could see his confidence grow by the game through his sophomore year as he tacked a couple of points onto that scoring average (15.7 PPG) and took on more responsibility. Last season was probably the school’s best since 1950 and earned the Bears their best year-end ranking ever (#10), and Dunn was the centerpiece along with Ekpe Udoh. The unquestioned team leader, Dunn put his scoring gift on full display, contributing 19.6 PPG (33rd in the nation) in just over 32 MPG. Because of his quickness and his deep shooting range, he represents the ultimate defensive conundrum. If you play up on him, he’s by you. If you give him a cushion — and he doesn’t need much space at all — he’ll drill you from range. If you get physical, not only will he match you (Dunn is a disturbingly solid 6’4, 205), but he’ll be more than happy to repair to the free throw line (85.7% last season) and bleed you to death with paper cuts. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about his game is that shooting accuracy. If Dunn can see the rim, he’s in range, and he has no qualms about letting it sail. He nailed 116 threes last season, a single-season record for the school. His next trey will be his 300th, and he’s already hit more of them than any other Baylor player. Those 299 threes put him 91 bombs away from breaking the Big 12 record of 389 held by Texas’ A.J Abrams, and seeing as how Dunn has had no problem breaking 100 the past two seasons, we think he’ll get there. Considering all that, his overall shooting percentage becomes that much more impressive. He shot 45.2% last year and has posted a 44.9% mark for his Baylor career. This brings up the question, again: how do you guard this man? It’ll be fun to watch Big 12 opponents make a go of it this season, that’s for sure — we just have to get the guy on the floor and past this current situation regarding the alleged assault. Because of the strange, conflicting stories from some of the people involved and the paucity of other details that have emerged about this matter, we’re not sure where the truth lies or what outcome would constitute justice. We just hope it’s one that results in LaceDarius Dunn playing basketball as soon and as much as possible.

If Dunn Keeps His Head, He Could Be Baylor's first AP All-American First Teamer

  • Jacob Pullen – Sr, G – Kansas State. Expectations, much?  The last time Jacob Pullen’s Kansas State Wildcats were ranked as high as they are in the Preseason Coaches Poll (#3), John F. Kennedy was a relatively unknown senator from Massachusetts.  The year was 1959, and the Wildcats were ranked #1 in the final AP poll heading into the NCAA Tournament (regrettably, the Cats lost to Oscar Robertson’s Cincinnati in the regional finals).  In large part due to the big-shot making abilities of the six-foot guard who has a great chance to re-write the K-State record books this season, Frank Martin’s KSU squad is poised to make a run at its first Final Four since the 60s and its first Big 8/12 conference title since the 70s.  Pullen, the Big 12 Preseason POY as voted on by the coaches, is expected to run more of the point now that last year’s starter at that position Denis Clemente has graduated, but his ability to successfully play either the one or the two position is well-documented by league opponents.  Let’s be honest, though; with Pullen mimicking the scorer’s mentality of other height-challenged combo guards that have come before him, it doesn’t matter what “position” head coach Frank Martin puts him in.  The Beard (which is rounding into form for the season, incidentally) will have the ball in his hands when it’s crunch time, just as he did in a 34-point explosion against Jimmer Fredette and BYU in the NCAA second round last season and in multiple overtimes in another win (and 28-point performance) against Xavier in the Sweet Sixteen.  It’s not very easy to stop a player who can routinely go for 20+ against some of the best defensive coaches in the country (16 times last year), but the one thing you do not want to do against Pullen is leave him open from behind the arc.  Make him put the ball on the floor and try to get to the rim.  He’s not a traditional dead-eye shooter by any stretch, but he can torch it from outside when he finds a groove — seven threes against UNLV and BYU; six against Alabama, Xavier, Baylor and South Dakota.  Last year he tied Askia Jones’ school-record of 110 threes in a season because he’s learned how to pick his spots appropriately, exhibited by the nearly 40% conversion rate he enjoyed (a significant improvement from his 30% and 34% he shot from deep in his first two years in Manhattan).  Perhaps reflecting the grit of his fiery head coach, Pullen is also an elite defender, having been selected as a member of the six-man Big 12 all-defensive team last year.  Put all of this together — the  scoring, the defense, the grit, the BEARD — and you’re faced with the simple fact that the K-State guard is on the short list of a dozen or so players who are in contention for 1st team All-American and national Player of the Year honors in 2010-11.  The better he plays, the more likely it is that the fortunes of Kansas State basketball is on its way to reclaiming some of its ancient glory and make comparisons with teams a half-century ago completely moot.

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RTC Conference Primers: #23 – Southland Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 12th, 2010

Russell Burnett is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference.

Predicted Order of Finish

East Division

  1. Southeastern Louisiana (13-3)
  2. Nicholls State (10-6)
  3. Lamar (9-7)
  4. Northwestern State (6-10)
  5. McNeese State (5-11)
  6. Central Arkansas (3-13)

West Division

  1. Stephen F. Austin (13-3)
  2. Sam Houston State (12-4)
  3. Texas State (9-7)
  4. UTSA (7-9)
  5. A&M-Corpus Christi (6-10)
  6. Texas-Arlington (3-13)

All-Conference Team (key stats from last season in parentheses)

  • Anatoly Bose (F) – Nicholls State (21.1 ppg, 86 three-pointers made)
  • Gilberto Clavell (F) – Sam Houston (17.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg)
  • A.J. Stewart (C) – Texas State (5.7 PPG in 2008-09 for Kentucky)
  • Anthony Miles (G) – Lamar (14 ppg, 3.0 apg)
  • Devin Gibson (G) – UT-San Antonio (12.5 ppg, 4.4 apg)

Sixth Man

  • Cameron Johnson (F) – Texas State (14.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg)

Impact Newcomer

  • A.J. Stewart (F) – Texas State pulled in several transfers, but none bigger than the 6’9 Kentucky transfer. Having played in 29 games for the Wildcats as a sophomore, Stewart could have a big impact in a league not known for fielding a plethora of big men. Stewart led Arlington Country Day (Fla.) High School to three straight state championships.

A.J. Stewart, formerly a bench player with Kentucky, hopes to celebrate an expanded role with Texas State. (ukwildcatcountry.com)

What You Need to Know

  • The Southland is a two-division league and made a change during the offseason. Stephen F. Austin moved from the East Division to the West and Lamar jumped from the West to the East.
  • The Merrell Center in Katy is the site of the 2011 Southland Conference Basketball Tournament. This is the third straight year the tournament has been played at a neutral site.
  • The five-year transition process for Central Arkansas‘ athletic department is over. The school has now gained Division I active membership and will be eligible for postseason play in the Southland Conference and at the national level.
  • There was a shake-up on the coaching front of a couple of teams in the offseason. Central Arkansas hired former Razorback great Corliss Williamson as its head coach, while Sam Houston State promoted assistant Jason Hooten after longtime coach Bob Marlin took over the helm at Louisiana-Lafayette.

Predicted Champion

Stephen F. Austin (NCAA seed: #15). The Lumberjacks were beaten in the tournament championship game by rival Sam Houston State last year. Head Coach Danny Kaspar always has his team in contention and this year his team-oriented style of play could reap benefits as the conference is void of any big-time NBA caliber talent. It could be a toss-up with Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston, but both teams should come out of the West bloodied, but not beaten.

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    First Round Game Analysis: Thursday Afternoon

    Posted by rtmsf on March 16th, 2010

    Over the next two days in a series of separate posts, RTC will break down all 32 of the first round games using our best analytical efforts to understand these teams, the matchups and their individual strengths and weaknesses.  Our hope is that you’ll let us know in the comments where you agree, disagree or otherwise think we’ve lost our collective minds.  Here are the Thursday afternoon games.

    Thursday, March 18 (all times ET)

    12:20 pm – #7 BYU vs. #10 Florida  (Oklahoma City pod)

    The NCAA Tournament kicks off in style this year with a good first round game from Oklahoma City.  BYU enters the postseason riding the wave of one of its most successful regular seasons in decades, but it won’t matter much if the Cougars can’t slay their old bugaboo of winning a first round game on Thursday afternoon.  The last time BYU won an NCAA opener in 1993, Grant Hill’s high fade was in style and the internet was something employees wore in their hair at fast food joints.  Eight trips later, BYU has by far its best team and chance to end that losing streak.  Jimmer Fredette is the best player casual fans haven’t yet heard of, but his 21/3/5 assts per game and 45% three-point shooting allow for the occasional explosion, as in the cases where he dropped 49 points at Arizona or 45 against TCU just last week in the Mountain West Tournament.  The Cougs’ opponent, Florida, limped into the postseason, having lost four of five games and is a questionable entrant (especially as a #10 seed).  But the Gators are still dangerous, boasting five players who average double figures with an ability to go off at any time.  The most difficult problem Florida will face, though, is how to stop the highly efficient offense that BYU brings to the dusty plains.  Dave Rose’s team shoots well from everywhere on the floor, and the Gator defense has been appropriately described as soft throughout the season, so UF will have to get into a high-scoring shootout to have a chance to outscore the Cougars in this one.

    The Skinny: it’ll be difficult for Florida’s defense to slow the offensive talents of Fredette and his Cougars so we’re going with BYU by ten in a shootout.

    12:25 pm – #6 Notre Dame vs. #11 Old Dominion  (New Orleans pod)

    Everybody knows about the Irish and their response to what was believed to be a potential season-ending injury to their superstar Luke Harangody. After the injury (and during Harangody’s return), the Irish have rebuilt themselves into a better team. We’re not saying they are a better team without Harangody because that would be ridiculous, but the brand of basketball they play when they don’t dump it down to him and watch him go to work is producing better results. They will have their hands full with the CAA champion (both regular season and tournament) Old Dominion. While the Monarchs ended up losing many of the “resume-building” games they played this year, they were competitive in most of them (5-point loss versus Missouri and 9-point loss at Northern Iowa) they also managed to win the biggest game on their schedule at #3-seeded Georgetown. So we know they can hang with a Big East team. Now the question is whether senior Gerald Lee can put it together to lead Blaine Taylor’s squad to an upset in the first game of the NCAA Tournament.  It says here that they can, but the Irish are playing so well that they won’t.

    The Skinny: Notre Dame gets enough production from each of its key scorers and is able to clamp down late on Lee and company to eke out a six-point victory.

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    Southland Tournament Preview

    Posted by rtmsf on March 9th, 2010

    Russell Burnett is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference.

    FINAL STANDINGS

    EAST

    1. Stephen F. Austin 21-8, 11-5 (pre-season pick #1) First-round opponent – UT-Arlington
    2. SE Louisiana 18-11, 10-6 (pre-season pick #3) First-round opponent – Texas State
    3. Nicholls State 11-18, 7-9 (pre-season pick #2) First-round opponent – Sam Houston State
    4. Northwestern State 10-9, 5-11 (pre-season pick #4) Did not qualify for tournament
    5. McNeese State 10-20, 5-11 (pre-season pick #5) Did not qualify for tournament
    6. Central Arkansas 9-21, 3-13 (pre-season pick #6) Did not qualify for tournament

    WEST

    1. Sam Houston State 22-7, 14-2 (pre-season pick #1) First-round opponent – Nicholls State
    2. Texas A&M-CC 15-14, 10-6 (pre-seasoan pick #2) First-round opponent – UTSA
    3. UT-San Antonio 19-10, 9-7 (pre-season pick #3) First-round opponent – A&M-CC
    4. Texas State 15-15, 9-7 (pre-season pick #6) First-round opponent – SE Louisiana
    5. Texas-Arlington 16-13, 8-8 (pre-season pick #4) First-round opponent – SFA
    6. Lamar 14-18, 5-11 (pre-season pick #5) Did not qualify for tournament

    SEASON IN REVIEW

    The prognosticators were nearly right on target with their preseason polls and selections. Texas State threw a curveball into the mix as both the coaches and sports information directors picked the Bobcats to finish last in the SLC West. Not only did the Bobcats finish in fourth place in the tough West Division, but they also earned a No. 5 seed in the Southland Tournament.

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    Checking in on… the Southland

    Posted by rtmsf on February 19th, 2010

    Russell Burnett is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference.

    Current Standings as of Feb. 19, 2010

    EAST

    1. Stephen F. Austin 18-6 (8-3)
    2. SE Louisiana 14-10 (6-5)
    3. Northwestern State 9-15 (4-7)
    4. McNeese State 8-17 (3-8)
    5. Nicholls State 7-17 (3-8)
    6. Central Arkansas 8-17 (2-9)

    WEST

    1. Sam Houston State 19-5 (11-0)
    2. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 13-12 (7-4)
    3. Texas-Arlington 14-10 (6-5)
    4. Texas State 12-13 (6-5)
    5. UT-San Antonio 15-9 (5-6)
    6. Lamar 14-13 (5-6)

    PLAYER OF THE WEEK

    For the third time this season, Sam Houston State University junior Gilberto Clavell has been named Southland Conference Player of the Week. Clavell averaged 20.5 points per game as the Bearkats moved to 11-0 in conference play. Clavell posted his second 30-point performance of the year as SHSU defeated A&M-Corpus Christi on Feb. 13.

    TEAM UPDATES

    EAST

    • SFA – After a two-win week, the Lumberjacks now hold a two-game advantage over second-place Southeastern Louisiana in the SLC East. Those same two teams collide Saturday in Hammond, La., at 3 p.m. SFA then travels to San Marcos to face Texas State on Feb. 24.
    • SELA – Came out with a 1-1 mark last week in SLC play after defeating Nicholls and falling to Texas-Arlington. The Lions are two games behind SFA and two games ahead of third-place Northwestern State in the SLC East. SELA faces the Lumberjacks at home and A&M-CC on the road this week.
    • NORTHWESTERN STATE – Breaking a three-game losing streak, the Demons won twice last week and moved ahead of McNeese State and Nicholls State in the SLC East. NW State bounced both Central Arkansas and McNeese State last week and look to continue its inspired play with games against two teams from the SLC West (Lamar and UTSA).
    • MCNEESE STATE – A four-game losing streak in conference has placed the Cowboys in a tie with Nicholls State at 3-8. Things don’t look too bright for MSU as they face the West’s top two teams in A&M-Corpus Christi (Saturday) and SHSU (Feb. 24).
    • NICHOLLS STATE – The Colonels have two big losing streaks this season, and one of them is in league play. NSU lost eight straight to begin the season and now have a five-game losing streak in SLC play to put them in fifth in the SLC East. Nicholls faces Texas State and Central Arkansas this week.
    • UCA – The Bears picked up an inspiring win over UTSA this past week, then fell to Northwestern State and remained at the bottom of the SLC East standings. UCA has a chance to even its conference record with Nicholls State as the two teams face-off Feb. 24.

    WEST

    • SHSU – Disposed of second-place A&M-CC with relative ease 90-74 on Feb. 13 and still have an unblemished conference record. Pesky UTSA is next up for SHSU on Saturday, then the Kats face McNeese in Huntsville.
    • A&M-CC – Fell out of contention for the SLC West title with two losses this last week. The Islanders are 2-4 in their last six conference games. A&M-CC faces two Louisiana schools in McNeese and SELA as they attempt to stay ahead of UTA in the standings.
    • UTA – Jumped a couple of teams in the West standings and have won six of its last seven conference games. The Mavs have two winnable games against Central Arkansas and Lamar as they try to pass the Islanders and jump into second place.
    • TEXAS STATE – The Bobcats are pulling out just enough wins to stay right in the middle of the pack in the strong SLC West. Texas State defeated Lamar by 14 on Feb. 13 to move past the Cardinals. They face Nicholls State and Stephen F. Austin this week.
    • UTSA – Has won three of its last four conference games and moved up a notch in the West with wins over UTA and A&M-Corpus. The Roadrunners battle SHSU and Northwestern State this week – both games are in San Antonio.
    • LAMAR – The Cardinals were riding a wave of wins until fellow West Division members Texas State and SHSU hung them with two losses. Lamar has Northwestern State and Texas-Arlington on its plate this week as it tries to climb out of the cellar.

    BOXSCORE BREAKDOWN

    • Stephen F. Austin dominated Northwestern State on the glass in a 69-59 victory on Feb. 10. The Lumberjacks nearly had as many offensive rebounds (24) as the Demons had total rebounds (28).
    • Northwestern State’s Will Pratt has scored in double figures in 10 straight games, averaging 17.1 points per game over that time period.
    • Despite making only 2 of 12 three-point attempts and shooting 10 less free throws than its opponent, UTA outrebounded Southeastern Louisiana by 13 and came out on top 85-73.
    • Devon Baker scored a season-high 24 points and led Northwestern State to an 82-76 victory over UCA on Feb. 13. Baker has scored in double figures in all but four games and is averaging 13 ppg.
    • SHSU’s Gilberto Clavell scored 30 points against the Islanders as he went 13 of 17 from the field. Clavell is averaging 20.2 points per game over his last five games.
    • McNeese State’s Dontae Cannon is averaging only 3.6 points per game, but on Feb. 13 in a loss to SFA, the freshman from Alexandria scored 10 points in 10 minutes of action.
    • Nicholls State’s Fred Hunter scored a season-high 26 points in a loss to Sam Houston on Feb. 10. Hunter averaged 23.5 points per game this past week.
    • Central Arkansas continues to be a balanced scoring team as four players score in double figures and one sits as 9.3 points per game.
    • Sam Houston sits at 11-0 in SLC action this year with five games to play. Only four teams have ever finished the Southland season undefeated: Abilene Christian 1965; Arkansas State 1966; Louisiana Tech 1971; and Arkansas State 1974.
    • Preston Brown scored a season-high 19 points to lead the Bearkats past Lamar on Feb. 17. This past week, Brown was  named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Team 2010 All-District honor squad.
    • UTSA guard Devin Gibson became the 13th player in UTSA history to surpass 1,000 career points. He currently ranks 12th on the Roadrunners’ all-time scoring list.
    • SHSU senior point guard Ashton Mitchell needs only 14 points to hit 1,000 career points for the Bearkats. Mitchell recently surpasses Donald Cole for 21st on SHSU’s all-time list.
    • Marquez Haynes continues to lead the SLC with 23.6 points per game, a figure that ranks third nationally behind Houston’s Aubrey Coleman (25.6) and Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody (24.1).
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    Checking in on… the Southland

    Posted by rtmsf on February 5th, 2010

    Russell Burnett is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference.

    Current Standings as of Feb. 5, 2010

    EAST

    1. Stephen F. Austin 16-5 (6-2)
    2. SE Louisiana 13-8 (5-3)
    3. McNeese State 8-13 (3-4)
    4. Nicholls State 7-14 (3-5)
    5. Northwestern State 7-13 (2-5)
    6. Central Arkansas 7-15 (1-7)

    WEST

    1. Sam Houston State 15-5 (7-0)
    2. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 11-10 (5-2)
    3. Lamar 12-11 (4-4)
    4. Texas State 10-12 (4-4)
    5. Texas-Arlington 11-9 (3-4)
    6. UT-San Antonio 12-8 (2-5)

    PLAYER OF THE WEEK

    Southeastern Louisiana big man Patrick Sullivan was named the SLC Player of the Week after averaging 18.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in wins over Nicholls State and Central Arkansas. Sullivan is a 6’9 senior from Florida, and scored a career-high 27 points against the Colonels to go with 12 rebounds. It was the 18th double-double of the year for Sullivan. The two scoring outbursts by Sullivan moved him into 11th place on the school’s all-time scoring list.

    AND THEN THERE WAS ONE

    In the battle of unbeatens, Sam Houston State defeated Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 70-58 and is the only team in the Southland Conference with a perfect record in league play.

    TEAM UPDATES

    EAST

    • STEPHEN F. AUSTIN – With two victories last week, not only do he ‘Jacks still sit at the top of the SLC East (6-2), but have now reeled off five straight wins in SLC play. SFA downed McNeese State in Lake Charles, then pulled out a one-point overtime victory over Nicholls State on Feb. 3. The ‘Jacks face two middle-of-the-road teams in Lamar and Northwestern State this week.
    • SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA – Trying to keep pace with East Division-leading SFA, the Lions won both games last week with relatively easy wins over Nicholls State (84-65) and Texas State (75-66). SELA trailed TSU at halftime, but outscored the Bobcats by 12 in the second half. The Lions go up against UTSA and Nicholls State this week.
    • MCNEESE STATE – Jumped past Nicholls State in the SLC East by going 1-1 this past week. The Cowboys snapped a two-game SLC losing streak with a 92-85 victory over NW State in Natchitoches. McNeese will head from Louisiana to Texas this week with games against Texas State and UTA.
    • NICHOLLS STATE – Started another two-game losing streak with losses at home against SELA and on the road to Stephen F. Austin. The loss to SFA was particularly tough in that the Colonels got 38 points from Anatoly Bose. NSU faces two Texas schools in A&M-CC and Sam Houston State this week.
    • NORTHWESTERN STATE – Picked up a nice win against Central Arkansas (74-68) then had a letdown at home in losing to McNeese State 92-85. The Demons will face a tough Texas duo in Texas-Arlington and SFA this week.
    • CENTRAL ARKANSAS – The struggle continues in Southland Conference play for the Bears, who have now lost four straight in conference play and 10 of 12 overall. UCA travels to Huntsville to face SHSU, then hosts UTSA.

    WEST

    • SAM HOUSTON STATE – The Bearkats were forced to scramble after trailing the Islanders by 15 early in the first half, but came out on top 70-58 to become the only undefeated team in the Southland. SHSU hosted UTSA and pulled out a six-point win to sit at 7-0. SHSU hosts Central Arkansas then hits the road to test Nicholls State.
    • A&M-CC – The Islanders coasted out to a 15-point lead against rival Sam Houston State, then the wheels fell of and A&M-CC took its first loss of the season, 70-58. Things didn’t get much better as they were defeated by UTA on the road four nights later. Nicholls State and Texas State stand in the way of the Islanders getting back in the win column this week.
    • LAMAR – After winning two games against UTA and McNeese State, the Cardinals fell back to Earth with three straight losses to the Islanders, Bobcats and Bearkats. Important games loom against UTSA (Jan. 30) and Central Arkansas (Feb. 3).
    • TEXAS STATE – After two inspiring wins at the end of January, the Bobcats came crashing back to Earth as they lost to UTA and SELA. Things don’t get any easier for TSU as they compete against McNeese and A&M-Corpus Christi this week.
    • UTA – Two wins against Texas State and A&M-CC have the Mavericks feeling good and they could steady the ship with Northwestern State and McNeese on the horizon this week. Plus, the Mavs have welcomed back senior leader Tommy Moffit.
    • UTSA – How the mighty have fallen! The Roadrunners started conference play with two wins, but have now lost their last five games and are in the West cellar. A tough game against Southeastern Louisiana looms ahead, then UTSA might get a reprieve when they face Central Arkansas.

    BOXSCORE BREAKDOWN

    • Texas State’s Cameron Johnson strung together three games where he averaged 22.3 points per game and 12 rebounds, but crashed against SELA with eight points and two rebounds.
    • UTA’s Mr. Everything Marquez Haynes was “held” to 21 and 20 points, respectively, after going off for 32 points against non-conference foe Houston Baptist.
    • Lamar sophomore Anthony Miles never stepped off the court in two wins last week. Miles played all 40 minutes against UTSA and had 19 points and six assists, then 40 minutes against UCA and had 14 points and four assists.
    • An odd two games for UTSA… First the Roadrunners lost to Lamar as they were outrebounded 37-23 and placed only one player, Morris Smith IV, in double figures (19). Then UTSA outrebounded SHSU 35-29 and had five players in double figures, but still lost the game.
    • Not a great free-throw shooting team as they are hit 69 percent of their charity tosses, SHSU made 17 of 18 (95 percent) against A&M-CC and 15 of 18 against UTSA (83 percent).
    • After scoring 0 and 11 points in his two previous games, SHSU forward Gilberto Clavell went off for 27 against UTSA.
    • A&M-Corpus Christi’s Kevin Palmer (21 games) and UTA’s Marquez Haynes (20 games) have both scored in double figures in every game this season.
    • Nicholls State forward Anatoly Bose hit for 38 points in a loss to SFA on Feb. 3, but that wasn’t his high for the year (46 points on Jan. 23). Bose is on a scoring tear right now averaging 32.7 points per game in the last four games.
    • Patrick Sullivan and Trent Hutchin each scored a career-high 27 points and Southeastern Louisiana beat Nicholls State 84-65 on Jan. 30.
    • Texas State junior Tony Bishop scored a season-high 19 points against SELA on Feb. 3. Bishop averages 7.4 points per game.
    • P.J. Alawoya was a difference maker in McNeese State’s win over Northwestern State on Feb. 3. The 6’7 junior from Alief Hastings HS scored 13 points and pulled down a season-high 16 rebounds.
    • Both Will Pratt (Northwestern State) and Tadre Sheppard (Central Arkansas) filled up the box score as the Demons prevailed 74-68. Pratt had a season-high 29 points to go with eight rebounds, while Sheppard scored 17 points, had 11 rebounds and five steals.
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    Checking in on… the Southland

    Posted by jstevrtc on January 29th, 2010

    Russell Burnett is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference.

    Current Standings as of Jan. 29, 2009:

    EAST

    1. Stephen F. Austin 14-5 (4-2)
    2. SE Louisiana 11-8 (3-3)
    3. Nicholls State 7-12 (3-3)
    4. McNeese State 7-12 (2-3)
    5. Northwestern State 6-12 (1-4)
    6. Central Arkansas 7-13 (1-5)

    WEST

    1. Sam Houston State 13-5 (5-0)
    2. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 11-8 (5-0)
    3. Texas State 10-10 (4-2)
    4. UT-San Antonio 12-6 (2-3)
    5. Lamar 10-11 (2-4)
    6. Texas-Arlington 9-9 (1-4)

    PLAYER OF THE WEEK

    Texas A&M-Corpus Christi forward Kevin Palmer was named the SLC Player of the Week after extending his scoring in double figures to 40 games with a season-high 32 points in a victory over Lamar last Wednesday. Palmer then came through with 18 points in an overtime win over UTSA. This is the second league player of the week honor for the senior from Baltimore, Maryland.

    UNBEATENS

    Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Sam Houston State sit atop the Southland Conference with identical 5-0 marks. The two teams have a showdown on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Corpus Christi for unbeaten supremacy.

    TEAM UPDATES

    EAST

    STEPHEN F. AUSTIN – The ‘Jacks sit at the top of the SLC East, one game ahead of Southeastern Louisiana. Both of the Lumberjacks’ losses in conference play have come on the road to SHSU and Nicholls State, respectively. The ‘Jacks have a three-game conference winning streak as they overpowered Southeastern Louisiana in Nacogdoches by 11 and took down Northwestern State by 10 on the road.

    SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA – After starting conference play 2-0, they lost three straight before picking up a seven-point win over Central Arkansas on Jan. 27. SELA will have to travel to Nicholls State then host Texas State this week.

    NICHOLLS STATE – A Jekyll and Hyde team, the Colonels can’t seem to string any wins together on a consistent basis. NSU’s leading scorer, Anatoly Bose (18.8 PPG) was held to six points in the loss to UCA. NSU faces the East’s top two teams this week in SELA (Jan. 30) and SFA (Feb. 3).

    MCNEESE STATE – Halted a five-game (non-conference and SLC play) skid by beating SELA, 71-67, on Jan. 20, then lost to Nicholl State by two on Jan. 27.  The Cowboys face streaky Stephen F. Austin and Northwestern State this week.

    NORTHWESTERN STATE – Picked up its initial SLC win with a 99-98 win over Nicholls State on Jan. 23. The Demons have lost nine of their last 11 dating back to a Dec. 12 setback at the hands of LSU. NW State could pick up a couple of wins as they face Central Arkansas (Jan. 30) and McNeese State (Feb. 3).

    CENTRAL ARKANSAS - The Bears picked up their first Southland Conference win of the year (64-50) against Nicholls State as former Bear and NBA great Scottie Pippen looked on. UCA retired Pippen’s No. 33 uniform at halftime. Pippen was a two-time NAIA All-American for UCA and delivered a pregame talk to the Bears. They promptly lost two more games to McNeese and SELA.

    WEST

    SAM HOUSTON STATE – The Bearkats are riding a five-game SLC win streak and have won eight of their last 10 games. In those five SLC games, the ‘Kats are beating their opponent by 15 PPG on average. Sam Houston hits the road for a big game Saturday as they face fellow unbeaten A&M-Corpus, then they host UTSA.

    TA&M-CC – The only other unbeaten in the conference, the Islanders have put together a six-game SLC winning streak. The streak comes on the heels of A&M-CC losing six of seven games before picking up a league win against UCA. After the SHSU tilt, the Islanders hit the road to test UTA.

    TEXAS STATE – The Bobcats have come as bit of a surprise after starting the season 3-8. TSU has won three of its last four conference games and can separate itself a little from the middle of the pack with games against UTA (Jan. 30) and SELA (Feb. 3).

    UTSA – Has lost three straight in league play after winning its first two games. Lost a close four-point game to league-leading A&M-Corpus Christi, then took it on the chin by 14 points against Texas State. The Roadrunners need to pick up at least one victory over Lamar or SHSU this week.

    LAMAR – After winning two games against UTA and McNeese State, the Cardinals fell back to Earth with three straight losses to the Islanders, Bobcats and Bearkats. Important games loom against UTSA (Jan. 30) and Central Arkansas (Feb. 3).

    UTA – The Mavericks haven’t found their rhythm as they have lost two consecutive SLC games twice this year. They took a day off from SLC play to defeat Houston Baptist, but face hot teams in Texas State and A&M-CC this week.

    BOXSCORE BREAKDOWN

    Stephen F. Austin had four players in double figures and shot 57% from the field in the second half to escape with a 10-point victory over Northwestern State on Jan. 27. Eddie Williams, Walt Harris and Jereal Scott all score in double digits for the Lumberjacks.

    DeShawn Patterson tied a career high with 17 points and Southeastern Louisiana held off Central Arkansas on Jan. 27.

    Anatoly Bose scored a Southland Conference season-high 46 points, but the Nicholls State Colonels fell 99-98 in double overtime to Northwestern State on Jan. 23.  Bose then went off for 23 points and 11 rebounds in a victory over McNeese State.

    McNeese State – Held UCA to 28% from the field, including 19 percent from three-point land in a 15-point win on Jan. 23.

    Devon Baker hit a free throw with one second left to give Northwestern State a 99-98 win over Nicholls State in double overtime on Jan. 23. In the overtime win, Damon Jones scored a season-high 25 points, then came back with only one point in a loss to SFA.

    Mike Rueter has come strong in the last few SLC games for UCA. The 6’6 senior from Batesville, Arkansas is averaging 14.5 PPG in the last four games and 11.7 PPG on the year.

    A battle of two of the top offensive threats in the league played out with Sam Houston’s Gilberto Clavell scoring 25 points to go with 10 rebounds as SHSU beat UTA by three points on Jan. 23.  Marquez Haynes, leading the league with 24.5 PPG, had 23 for UTA.

    SHSU sophomore Antuan Bootle posted double-figure rebounds in two of the last three games. Bootle had 12 rebounds in 20 mintues of action against Texas State, and 11 boards in 15 minutes against Lamar.

    A&M-CC’s Demond Watt has heated up and scored in double-figures in 12 straight games to push his season average to 11.9 PPG. Watt tied a season-high with 13 rebounds against non-conference foe UT-Pan American on Jan. 25.

    Texas State had six players in double figures in an overtime victory against Lamar on Jan. 23. Cameron Johnson had 24 points and 15 rebounds, and is averaging 16.6 PPG in conference play.

    Devin Gibson had a season-high nine assists for UTSA in a loss to the Islanders. Gibson was two rebounds and one assist away from a triple-double.

    Lamar’s Justin Nabors had a string of double figure scoring games snapped at 12 when he scored nine in a 90-63 blowout loss to SHSU. Nabors is close to averaging a double-double as he scores at a 13.7 PPG clip and pulls 9.7 RPG.

    UTA guard Marquez Haynes netted his sixth 30-point game this year as he tossed in 32 points in a non-conference win over Houston Baptist. Haynes also dished out a season- and career-high nine assists in the victory.

    The Mavericks welcomed back senior forward Tommy Moffit from a broken foot. The 6’5 Moffit missed 11 games, but came back against Houston Baptist to play 16 minutes.

    GAMES OF THE WEEK

    Saturday, Jan. 30

    Sam Houston at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 7 p.m.

    Wednesday, Feb. 3

    Texas State at Southeastern Louisiana, 7 p.m.

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    Checking in on… the Southland

    Posted by rtmsf on January 2nd, 2010

    Russell Burnett is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference.

    Current Standings (as of Dec. 30, 2009)

    EAST

    1. Stephen F. Austin 9-3
    2. SE Louisiana 7-4
    3. Northwestern St. 5-6
    4. McNeese State 5-7
    5. Central Arkansas 5-7
    6. Nicholls State 4-9

    WEST

    1. UTSA 8-3
    2. Sam Houston 8-4
    3. UTA 5-5
    4. Lamar 6-7
    5. A&M Corpus 5-6
    6. Texas State 4-8

    PLAYER OF THE WEEK.  UT-Arlington guard Marquez Haynes scored 31 points and grabbed seven boards in a 101-85 win over Texas Wesleyan. This is the second POW honor for Haynes this year.

    NON-CONFERENCE.  With Southland Conference action slated to begin the second week of the New Year, let’s take a look at the games, players and statistics from non-conference play in 2009:

    GAMES

    • Sam Houston State University set several Rupp Arena records as they lost to the nation’s fourth-ranked team, Kentucky, 102-92, then hammered fellow SEC member Auburn 107-89 a month later.
    • The Nicholls State Colonels began the season losing their first eight games after being picked second in the SLC East in the preseason polls. Included in the 0-8 start was a 72-58 loss to Division II Alaska.
    • Texas A&M Corpus Christi started the season off with a bang by downing Oregon State, of the Pac-10, 67-43, in Lubbock of all places. The Islanders were led by Kevin Palmer’s 23 points.
    • In its first contest of the year in Ames, Iowa, UTSA bested Iowa 62-50. The loss snapped Iowa’s 46-game winning streak in home openers.
    • The Southland Conference has battled numerous Top 25 teams in non-conference thus far, including teams ranked No. 1 (Kansas), 2 (Texas), 3 (Kentucky).

    PLAYERS

    • One of the biggest surprises has been the improvement of Lamar’s Anthony Miles. The 6’1 sophomore guard from Clear Brook High School is seventh in the league in scoring (15.2) after averaging 6.3 ppg as a freshman last year. Miles has doubled his stats in nearly every statistical category this year.
    • UTA’s Haynes, a senior transfer from Boston College, has lived up to his billing as a preseason All-Southland Conference selection. Haynes has scored in double figures in all 11 Maverick games and has posted 30 or more points four times. He leads the conference in scoring at 24.7 ppg.
    • Another All-SLC preseason pick, SHSU’s Corey Allmond, has been streaky thus far. The senior guard from Maryland torched Kentucky and Auburn for 37 and 25 points, respectively. He hit 11 of 16 three-pointers against Kentucky, which is a Rupp Arena record. The 37 points are a career high.
    • Nicholls State’s Anatoly Bose is on a tear. The 6’6 junior from Australia has scored more than 20 points in five consecutive games with a season-high of 27 points coming against Southern-New Orleans. It’s no coincidence that the Colonels have won four of their last five games as Bose has heated up.
    • Kevin Palmer, a 6’6 senior at A&M CC, has scored at least 20 points in six of the Islanders’ 11 games this year. He is second in the SLC in scoring at 20.2 ppg.
    • Lamar’s Justin Nabors continues to lead the SLC in rebounding. His 9.2 boards a game is nearly three more than the 6’7 senior averaged two years ago. Nabors pulled down a league-high 24 rebounds against Louisiana College.
    • SLC newcomer and junior college transfer Gilberto Clavell has helped SHSU to an 8-4 mark. Clavell averaged 25.2 points per game during a four-game stretch. His 34 points against Auburn are a season and career high.
    • Stephen F. Austin’s Jordan Glynn had a stretch where notched a double-double in five straight games, averaging 13.8 points and 11.2 rebounds a game during that span.

    TEAM BREAKDOWNS

    EAST

    • Stephen F. Austin – Put together winning streaks of three and four games to start the year 9-3. Nearly missed on big wins against Texas Tech and Arkansas. Won the SLC West last year with a 12-4 mark. Looks to start the New Year and SLC season off right when they play arch-rival Sam Houston State in Huntsville on Saturday, Jan. 9.
    • Southeastern Louisiana – Might be a little of an unknown quantity in the SLC this year. Picked to finish third in the East, SELA played Mississippi State and LSU relatively well, but has played a relatively weak non-conference schedule with three non-Division games. Senior center Patrick Sullivan (15 ppg, 8.4 rpg) will need to play big as conference play begins.
    • Northwestern State – Looking to improve after a dismal season last year, the Demons are streaky at best. They are last in the SLC in free-throw percentage (61 percent) and in the middle of the pack in field goal and 3-point percentage. The Demons have no real go-to player, but senior guard Damon Jones tries to fit that bill, having scored in double figures in six of the last seven games.
    • McNeese State – Led by senior Diego Kapelan and sophomore Patrick Richard, the Cowboys played eight of their 12 games on the road thus far. Kapelan has increased his scoring average each year, and after scoring five points a game as a freshman last year, Richard is now throwing in 12 ppg.as a sophomore. McNeese closes out the non-conference schedule with Texas Tech and LSU before playing three tough SLC games to open the season.
    • Central Arkansas – Picked by most to finish last in the SLC East, the Bears lost four of their first five games, then went on a four-game winning streak and sit at 5-7. UCA boasts a balanced scoring attack with five players netting double figures. Junior guard Chris Poellnitz leads the way with 13.8 points a game. The play of JC transfer Tadre Sheppard (11 ppg.) has the Bears optimistic they can better last year’s 3-13 mark in the SLC.
    • Nicholls State – The Colonels were picked to finish second in the rough and tumble SLC East, but began the 2009 campaign by losing their first eight games. NSU rebounded by winning four of its next five, but the Colonels have an 18-day layoff until their SLC season begins. Forward Anatoly Bose has been a beast of late, but NSU will need more production from Fred Hunter and Maurice Foster if they want to start the SLC off the right way.

    WEST

    • UTSA – Junior point guard Devin Gibson (13.7 ppg.) from Cy-Falls in Houston has led an experienced group of Roadrunners to an SLC West best 8-3 mark. Of UTSA’s eight leading scorers, six of the players are either a junior or senior. The Roadrunners played in the championship game of the SLC Tournament last year, losing to SFA. UTSA begins SLC play on the road in two of its first three games.
    • SHSU – Year in and year out the Bearkats are one of the teams to beat in the SLC. Picked to finish first in the West, SHSU has played well in non-conference, but four of its eights wins have come against non-Division I teams. JC transfer Gilberto Clavell has been labeled by his coach as a “beast” and he brings toughness down low to the Kats, who rely heavily on their guard play. SHSU tips off conference play at home against bitter rival Stephen F. Austin.
    • UTA – The Mavericks have one of the best scorers in college basketball on their side. Senior guard Marquez Haynes has scored in double figures every time he has stepped on the court, and along with fellow senior Brandon Long (16.6 ppg.) make up a troublesome duo for teams in the SLC. Things could be rough for the Mavs without senior guard Tommy Moffitt, who broke his foot in early December. UTA opens with Texas State in Arlington on Saturday, Jan. 9.
    • Lamar – Had a stretch of six of seven games on the road, but has won three of its last four to stand at 6-7. Senior forward Ashton Hall (9 points, four rebounds a year ago) has only played one minute this year due to a knee injury. The Cardinals are picked to finish second-to-last in the West after finishing in last place a year ago. Look for guard Anthony Miles and senior Justin Nabors to carry the load.
    • TAMU-CC -The Islanders are picked to finish right behind SHSU in the West, and have played some stiff competition in non-conference to check in with a 5-6 mark. Mr. Everything Kevin Palmer was an All-SLC pick a year ago and he hasn’t disappointed thus far. Palmer scores 20 points per game to go with 5.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists and 3 steals. The Islanders start conference play with Central Arkansas, Texas State, Northwestern State and Lamar and could be 4-0 on Jan. 20.
    • Texas State – After finishing fifth in the West last year, the Bobcats are picked to be the team in the cellar this season. TSU has losing streaks of five and three games this year and open the SLC campaign against two strong opponents in UTA and A&M-CC. The Bobcats have three players scoring 10 points each – John Rybak (10.9), Cameron Johnson (10.9) and J.B. Conley (10.2). One of these players will need to step up for Texas State to be competitive in 2009-10.

    LOOKING AHEAD

    Saturday, Jan. 9

    • Stephen F. Austin at Sam Houston State, 2 p.m.

    Wednesday, Jan. 13

    • Southeastern Louisiana at Northwestern State, 7 p.m.
    • Nicholls State at UTSA, 7 p.m.
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