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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.