O26 Game of the Week: VCU Visits Saint Louis in Defensive Clash

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on February 12th, 2014

Each week the O26 microsite will run down the biggest upcoming game of the week as well as a handful of others to keep an eye on.

Virginia Commonwealth (19-5) at Saint Louis (22-2) – 2:00 PM ET, ESPN2, Saturday

This game punctuates what could be a decisive week in the Atlantic 10. If VCU can take down George Washington on Wednesday night, it will claim sole possession of second place and remain just two games back of Saint Louis heading into Saturday. A victory would pull Shaka Smart’s club within a game of the top spot, setting the stage for a crucial rematch on March 1st; a loss would give the Billikens an overwhelming advantage over the rest of the league, nearly guaranteeing a second-straight regular season title. And conference implications aside, this game offers each team—both stingy-defensive units with second-weekend potential—the opportunity to notch a resume-bolstering victory just one month out from Selection Sunday. A lot will be at stake in Chaifetz Arena.

VCU travels to Saint Louis for an enormous Atlantic 10 tilt. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

VCU travels to Saint Louis for an enormous Atlantic 10 tilt. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

If last year was any indication, Saint Louis should have no problem handling VCU and its HAVOC defense, which is predicated on forcing turnovers and scoring points in transition. In their only regular season meeting of 2013, the Billikens—who run a slow-paced, ball-control offense—broke the Rams’ press time after time down the floor, committing just eight turnovers and getting countless easy looks under the basket. In turn, VCU was unable to get anything in the way of transition buckets—a huge problem against a dominant half-court defense adept at taking away the three point shot, the Rams’ next-best scoring method. Saint Louis coasted to a 14-point home victory in that one and validated it a month later in the A-10 Championship game, again staving off VCU’s pressure on its way to claiming the league’s postseason crown.

So, then, what hope could the Rams possibly have this year, on the road against virtually the same team? Well, for starters, the Billikens have been skating on the thin ice in recent weeks. Three of their last five games have been one possession contests in the final minute of regulation, including an overtime home victory over then-winless George Mason. They won all three—part of a current 16-game winning streak—but showed slight vulnerabilities on defense and at times struggled to score. If Saint Louis continues playing with fire, odds say it will eventually get burned. Plus, this season’s Billikens aren’t quite the offensive team they were a year ago (scoring at a modestly lower rate), and VCU is even better on defense. Anytime a middle-of-the-pack offense meets an elite defense, the former is probably going to have trouble at various points in the game. Of course, the same can be said for VCU’s offense and Saint Louis’ defense, but the point remains: the Rams certainly have a chance. And if they do manage to pull one out on the road, the A-10 will become a whole lot more interesting.

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Checking In On… the Southland Conference

Posted by rtmsf on January 13th, 2012

Zach Birdsong is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference. You can also find his musings online at houstonianonline.com or on Twitter @Zachbird_nerd

Reader’s Take 

 

The Week That Was

  • Conference play opens up: Southland Conference play has opened up and even though we are just a few games into the conference schedule, the games have already been exciting and closely contested and featured some real nailbiters. Out of the 12 teams in the conference, just four of the teams remain unbeaten as this season already looks to be competitive. Every season proves that the later we get into these games, the more dominant teams start to show. It will be exciting to see which teams emerge as contenders for the conference title and whether or not there will be a surprise team this year.
  • Mike James repeats as Player of the Week: Lamar senior guard Mike James has been sensational this year. In three out of the last four weeks, he has been named conference “Player of the Week.” His recognition comes after he averaged 26 points in the first two games of conference play. In one of those games, against A&M Corpus Christi, he finished with a season high 31 points. Against Central Arkansas, the senior was able to put up 21 points in an easy victory for the Cardinals. During those two games, James shot 65% from the floor (19-of-29) including 85% from three-point territory (6-of-7).
  • Two top teams clash early in conference play: Early into the Southland Conference schedule, fans were treated to a delight as last year’s regular season conference champion McNeese State took on Pat Knight’s Lamar Cardinals. Before the season, the Cowboys were predicted to win the conference, but they struggled during their non-conference schedule. Lamar on the other hand was looking great despite having played three of the top 10 teams in the country. That being said, both teams battled to a close contest as the Cowboys eventually won a close one, 57-54, proving that experience matters. These teams still have to play one more time this season, and just like this meeting, expect it to be a good game.

LaMarcus Reed III Has Been One Of Many Standouts For Texas-Arlington (uta.edu)

Power Rankings

  1. Texas-Arlington (10-5, 3-0): Three games into conference play and no team has been more impressive than the Mavericks. In their three Southland games against SE Louisiana, Nicholls, and SHSU, they have won by an average margin of 31 points. They have been doing it on both sides of the ball as well. As a team, the Mavericks are shooting 46.5% from the floor and are holding teams to shooting just 34% and 16% from beyond the arc. Senior LaMarcus Reed III has been a leader for the Mavericks, averaging 16 points in those three games. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the Southland Conference

Posted by rtmsf on December 31st, 2011


Zach Birdsong is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference. You can also find his musings online at houstonianonline.com or on Twitter @zachbird_nerd.

Readers Take

 

The Week That Was

  • Lamar battles tough opponents: Pat Knight has certainly had his hands full during his time as the Lamar head coach. So far this season, the Cardinals have battled some quality top-10 opponents that included Louisville and more recently, Ohio State and Kentucky. Despite losing all three of those games by an average margin of 20 points, the Cardinals have actually been quite competitive in those games and seen some different players step up. While those games have added losses to the Cardinals record, Knight is pleased with what he is seeing. In fact, he thinks these tough games will help the Cardinals, stating: “This is just going to help us in conference.” They will open up conference play on January 4 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
  • Fortenberry missing playing time: Southeastern Louisiana’s leading scorer, forward Brandon Fortenberry, missed his third straight game when the Lions traveled to take on South Carolina. In his absence, the team is 1-2, and struggling offensively. On the road against Arkansas and South Carolina, the Lions shot just 33% from the floor including 28% from three-point territory. In his absence, senior guard Elgin Bailey returned and has been the team’s predominant scorer averaging 13.5 points per game. In that span of three games, Bailey is also averaging nine rebounds per game. While Bailey has been a big contributor, the Lions are hopeful that Fortenberry will be ready for conference play which begins on January 4 when the team travels to UTA.
  • Ingram named Conference Player of Week: Texas-Arlington forward Bo Ingram was selected as this week’s Southland Conference Player of the Week. Over the past week, the Mavericks competed in the Athletes in Action tournament that saw the Mavericks go 2-1. In that three-game span, Ingram averaged 19.3 points per game, including 21 points against both Utah State and Saint Peter’s. During the tournament, Ingram also averaged 5.3 rebounds per game, including 11 offensive rebounds. Ingram is peaking at the right time and they are hopeful that it will continue as conference play begins January 4 for the Mavericks. They will open up conference play against Southeastern Louisiana and that game is scheduled for 7 PM.

Texas-Arlington's Bo Ingram Had An Outstanding Week (southland.org)

Power Rankings

  1. Lamar (8-5): Despite going just 1-2 over the last two weeks, Lamar has continued to impress. The team faced and defeated Rice by the score of 87-81, before stepping up and playing some big names. First the Cardinals traveled to Columbus to take on the #2 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes before heading over to Lexington to take on the #3 Kentucky Wildcats. Both games ended in losses for Pat Knight’s squad. However, they were able to keep it competitive and playing these caliber of teams in their non-conference schedule will help out the Cardinals when they open Southland Conference play. Senior guard Mike James has been impressive for the Cardinals, averaging over 21 points a game over the last two weeks, including a 29-point performance against Kentucky.
  2. Texas-Arlington (6-5): From a fan’s perspective, no team has been more fun to watch over the last two weeks than the Mavericks. The team may be 2-2 over that time period, but the team had its share of nail biters as each game was close. The first set of games for the Mavericks required them to travel to Tulsa and then play at Utah State. Despite hanging in there with Tulsa, the Mavs lost by five, 80-75, in overtime. They would also fall at Utah State, 73-69, despite a 21-point performance by senior forward and Southland Conference Player of the Week Bo Ingram. However, the Mavs would get back on track as they traveled back to Arlington and defeated Kent State, 74-73, and St. Peter’s, 73-68. Against St. Peter’s, Ingram had another 21-point performance, shooting 7-of-14 from the field and 3-of-5 from three-point range. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the Southland Conference

Posted by rtmsf on December 16th, 2011

Zach Birdsong is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference. You can also find his musings online at houstionianonline.com or on Twitter @zachbird_nerd

Readers Take

 

The Week That Was:

  • LaQuentin Miles named Southland Player of the Week – On Monday, Central Arkansas guard LaQuentin Miles was named as Southland Conference Player of the Week. In the last two weeks, Miles averaged 19 points per game and 6.7 rebounds per game as he helped Central Arkansas win two of their three contests. His standout game came against Henderson State, when he scored a career-high 29 points while picking up 12 rebounds, giving him his fourth double-double on the young season. Against SE Missouri, Miles added 16 points, and against Arkansas State, he scored 12. Currently, Miles leads the conference in scoring average with 19.3 points per game, and also ranks third in field goal percentage (55.4%), and is tied for sixth in rebounds per game (7.0).
  • Young Sam Houston squad continues to deal with injuries to bigs – It’s been a rough season for the Bearkats so far, and most of the struggles have come due to the team being undersized. Antuan Bootle, the team’s only returning starter from 2010, was injured after the first game of the season against Howard Payne. After a loss at Texas A&M, coach Jason Hooten frustratingly mentioned at his press conference that the team had only suited up six out of his 13 scholarship players.  Freshman Michael Holyfield has been taking the role of the team’s big man (Holyfield is dealing with an injury of his own after suffering a broken nose during a practice).
  • Lumberjacks Drop Etech Classic Finale – In the finale of the Etech Lumberjack Classic, the Lumberjacks fell just short against Florida International, losing 58-56. This was the first loss for the Lumberjacks in three years of the tournament. It looked early that it would be another tournament victory for the Lumberjacks as they were able to fight and claw their way back into the contest after trailing early. With 12 minutes to go, the Lumberjacks lead by six points. However FIU battled back and with under two minutes left to go they held on for a 58-54 win.

Central Arkansas Guard LaQuentin Miles Has Been A Conference Standout This Season (AP)

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Checking In On… the Southland Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 3rd, 2011

Zach Birdsong is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference. You can also find his musings online at houstonianonline.com or on Twitter @zachbird_nerd.

Readers Take:

 

The Week That Was:

  • Logging Miles: Lamar guard Anthony Miles was named Southland Conference Player of the Week for his performance last week. Miles averaged 24.5 points and six assists per game to go along with 4.5 rebounds in two road wins for the Cardinals. Game-by-game, Miles dropped 18 points against Tennesee-Martin, where he shot the ball for 63% on 7-11 shooting as Lamar won, 80-69. Then Friday against Tennessee Tech, he scored a career high 31 points and dished out eight assists. The Cardinals dominated TTU in that one, 85-65.  Collectively, he shot 15-25 from the field, 3-5 from three-point range and 16-19 from the free throw line last week.

Anthony Miles Has Been Great For Lamar So Far This Season

  • Roadrunners Get A Boost: In the 2010-11 season, Melvin Johnson, III, was a critical weapon for the Roadrunners down the stretch and helped them reach the NCAA Tournament. After serving a two-game suspension for violating team rules, Johnson returned to the floor. Before the season, Johnson was expected to be among the top conference players. With him in the lineup, the Roadrunners are 3-3 this season, defeating UTEP, Fresno State and Cameron. In his six games this season, Johnson has had limited time on the court, averaging 10 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
  • Sam Houston State Slammed By Injuries: The Colonials had a relatively young team coming into the 2011-12 season with only one returning starter, forward Antuan Bootle. After the opening game of the season, Bootle has been saddled with a foot injury. Against Notre Dame, forward Steve Werner was also injured. Since then, Werner has played limited minutes and did not suit up Tuesday when the team took on Dallas Christian. Not being able to pass the ball inside has really hurt the Bearkats, who are shooting just 38.5% from the field and 23.8% from beyond the arc. Head coach Jason Hooten is optimistic and feels if his team can battle through these injuries, they’ll be stronger in conference play.

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Checking In On… the Southland Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 20th, 2011

Zach Birdsong is the RTC Correspondent for the Southland Conference. You can also find his musings online at houstonianonline.com or on twitter @zachbird_nerd.

Readers Take

 

The Week That Was

  • Pat Knight Era Begins at Lamar: The Pat Knight era at Lamar University began in earnest last Friday as the Cardinals took on Arkansas State in their home opener. Knight and the Cardinals picked up the win, 65-62, as Brandon Davis led all scorers in the game with 17 points for the game. Devon Lamb also contributed 13 points and picked up 15 rebounds. After that, the team traveled and lost to #8 Louisville, 68-48. Knight and his team endured its first loss of the season. Despite the score, Lamar was able to hang with Louisville for awhile before Rick Pitino’s team took control of the game. Two days later the team fell in their second consecutive game at Ohio in overtime, 85-78, but followed that up with an 18-point pasting of Charlotte on Saturday night.

Pat Knight Takes Over at Lamar

  • Sam Houston A Growing Team:  Last season, the Bearkats won the Southland Conference West Division. However, they lost numerous players including Conference Player of the Year Gilberto Clavell.  This season, Sam Houston has just three returning players, including one starter (Antuan Bootle), so SHSU is still looking to find its identity. In the season opener, the team beat Howard Payne, 76-42, and shot the ball at 40% from the field and 12.5% from three-point range. In the second game of the season, the team traveled to South Bend, dropping a 74-41 game to Notre Dame. SHSU had trouble shooting, with a clip of just 34% from the field, faring even worse from the perimeter. Overall, the young team is shooting 37.2% from the field and 16.1% from beyond the arc. They have also turned the ball over 33 times in two games as they struggle to find consistency.
  • Southland Schools Battle Power Conference Squads: Four schools in the Southland Conference battled teams from the Big 12 and Big East. Last Friday, Texas A&M-CC lost to Oklahoma State; then, on Sunday, November 13, Lamar traveled to Louisville and lost, followed by a game on  Wednesday, November 16, where Sam Houston State traveled to Notre Dame while UTSA lost a heartbreaker to Oklahoma State. Despite not having their leading scorer, Melvin Johnson III, who was serving his second game of suspension for violating team rules, UTSA built a lead before a miracle sequence from Cezar Guerrero eventually sunk the Roadrunners.

Power Rankings

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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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O26 Primers: Conference USA, Mountain West, Southland, SWAC and WAC Tourneys

Posted by KDoyle on March 9th, 2011

RTC’s Kevin Doyle, author of the weekly column, The Other 26, and the Patriot League Correspondent, will be providing conference tournament previews for all non-BCS conferences.

With three conference tournaments concluding last night, it is only appropriate that five more get underway today. Conference USA and the Southland Conference are two of the most balanced leagues in the nation, while the WAC and Mountain West were just the opposite as they were dominated at the top. The SWAC is always a bit of a mystery come Championship Week and tournament time, but Texas Southern is the class of the league this year and will no doubt do their best to bring respect to the league if they are fortunate enough to advance to the Dance.

Conference USA

The Favorite: UAB won the regular season title with a 12-4 record, but that means very little in the ultra competitive CUSA this season as five teams are just behind the Blazers. There is something to be said though about UAB’s strong play down the stretch and the steady play of Jamarr Sanders and Cameron Moore. These reasons alone amidst several injuries that Mike Davis‘ club has overcome makes UAB the slight favorite over the rest of the bunch.

Dark Horse: Southern Mississippi is one the teams that are nipping at UAB’s heels. Although they fell in their last three games of the regular season, Larry Eustachy’s squad proved throughout the year they can beat anyone in the conference. Having Gary Flowers roam around the pain never hurts either.

Who’s Hot: UAB has won their last four games and seven of eight heading into the tournament. As well as UAB is playing, it would be very easy for that to stop on a dime. Throughout each week during the conference schedule, it appeared that one team in CUSA was emerging as the top dog, but they would quickly fade. Can UAB keep their streak going all the way into the NCAA Tournament?

Player to Watch: Papa Dia, Southern Methodist’s senior forward all the way from Senegal, is enjoying the best season of his career as he is averaging 18.5 points and 9 rebounds a game. In each of the previous three seasons, SMU has been below .500; Dia and his teammates clearly have something to prove in this tournament.

First-Round UpsetCentral Florida over East Carolina. UCF was the nation’s favorite story in the early going as they jumped out to a 14-0 record with wins over Florida, Miami (FL), and Princeton. The Knights then went onto lose eight straight games, thus proving that their early success was a fluke. Now, UCF has won five of seven games and if they can regain that success they had in those 14 games, a victory over East Carolina is absolutely within reach.

How’d They Fare? After going 7-9 in the conference, Houston caught fire in the tournament to surprise everyone by winning the title. In doing so, the Cougars stole a bid from a team on the bubble and earned a #13 seed in the Tournament where they lost to Maryland 89-77. UTEP—the team Houston beat to advance onward—was trounced by Butler as a #12 seed.

Interesting Fact: The last team to win an NCAA Tournament game hailing from Conference USA not named Memphis was Louisville in the 2005 Tournament. The ‘Ville advanced all the way to the Final Four that year where they lost to Illinois 57-52 in the semifinals. Both UAB and Cincinnati also won Tournament games that year.

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The Other 26: Week 13

Posted by KDoyle on February 11th, 2011

Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor.

Introduction

In last week’s article I touched on the notion of parity and how great it is within the world of sports. After analyzing many of the Other 26 conferences this week, I could not help but notice how in several of the conference there is not one team that has distinguished themselves from the pack yet, and we are already nearing mid-February. In some cases, there are not even two or three teams that are running away with the league. Competitiveness or mediocrity? Well, does it really matter? All this means is that conference tournament week becomes that much more unpredictable and exciting. Here are a few of the conferences that are still completely wide open:

  • Atlantic 10: Four teams—Xavier, Duquesne, Temple, and Richmond—have records between 8-2 and 8-1.
  • CAA: Four teams—George Mason, Virginia Commonwealth, Old Dominion, and Hofstra—have records between 12-2 and 10-4.
  • The A10 and CAA are both very similar as each have four teams in legitimate contention, and both appear to be two-bid leagues at the moment.
  • Conference USA: Six teams—UTEP, Southern Mississippi, UAB, Memphis, SMU, and Tulsa—have records between 6-2 and 7-3.
  • Horizon League: Five teams—Valparaiso, Cleveland State, Wright State, Butler, and Wisconsin Milwaukee—have records between 10-3 and 9-5.
  • MAC: Eight teams—Kent State, Buffalo, Miami (OH), Bowling Green, Akron, Ohio, Ball State, and Western Michigan—have records between 7-2 and 5-4.
  • Southern Conference: Four teams—Charleston, Furman, Wofford, and Chattanooga—have records between 11-2 and 10-3.
  • Southland Conference: Nine teams—Northwestern State, McNeese State, Southeastern Louisiana, Nicholls State, Texas State, Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston State, UTSA, and Texas Arlington—have records between 7-3 and 5-4.

Very elaborate, I know. But, it is pretty remarkable the balance in the leagues. Of these seven conferences, there are a total of 40 teams who can still say they are capable and have a legit shot at winning their conference. What does this all mean? A great week of basketball during the conference tournaments, followed by more weeks of deliciousness during the NCAA Tournament. Enjoy.

The Other 26 Rankings

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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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