Texas State men’s basketball coach Doug Davalos knows when he’s been agitated. He’ll find out soon enough if his team feels the same way.
Among the achievements for Southland Conference basketball coaches at Tuesday’s league media day was their prediction that the Bobcats will finish dead last in the West Division after last year’s 13-16 overall finish. The coaches are saying the Bobcats will again miss the league tournament, despite returning four starters and nine letter winners.
“When the polls came out, I asked our team, ‘Is that something you want to resent or resemble?'” Davalos said. “I really want them to think about that. I want them to realize when you are picked last, it’s like when anything happens in your life that is disappointing. How are you going to respond to it? Are you going to respond and say nobody loves me, or will you get ticked off? That is what I want to see.”
Texas-Arlington, which entered last year’s conference tournament as the seventh seed out of eight teams before winning it and going to the NCAA Tournament, won the coaches’ pick as the West Division favorite. Lamar, which won the East Division last year and now moves to the West, came up second in the coaches’ projections.
The coaches picked Sam Houston State third in the division, with Texas-San Antonio fourth and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi fifth before Texas State, which is picked sixth and last.
The league sports information directors also chose Texas State to finish last and picked with the coaches in every other respect, except they expect Sam Houston and UTSA to tie for third.
Last year’s West Division winner, Stephen F. Austin, moves to the East Division this year, where it is again picked to win by the coaches and SIDs. Following, in order, are Northwestern State, Southeastern Louisiana, McNeese State, Nicholls State and Central Arkansas.
The top two teams in each division will advance to the conference tournament at the Merrill Center in Katy next March. Rounding out the eight-team field will be the four teams with the best remaining conference records.
Texas State guard Brandon Bush, a 6-foot-7 senior from Houston, was named to the SLC’s second team after leading the Bobcats in scoring and rebounding for the second straight season. No other Texas State player received preseason honors from the league.
“Brandon has matured a little more every day as a player and a person,” Davalos said. ” … He has been a good individual player. He’s also been part of probably one of the worst seasons in Texas State history and we’re hoping he can make the turnaround his senior year where he can say this is one of the best seasons in Texas State history. That is a bold statement, but it is what I would love to see in the final chapter of his career.”
The Bobcats finished 3-24 in 2006, Bush’s freshman year and the last year in San Marcos for former Texas State coach Dennis Nutt. The Bobcats then finished 9-20 in Davalos’ debut season before hitting 13-16 last year. Davalos now hopes that a senior class including Bush, Brent Benson, Corey Jefferson and Dylan Mosely can at least push the Bobcats to a winning season.
“This needs to be a senior class people will remember for a long time,” Davalos said. “The biggest thing is, we have experience. The first year was about starting over. The second year was about getting talented players to show progress. This year, it is continuing that progression with experienced players. I think that is the No. 1 thing. We have beaten some good teams in this league. Last year, we beat UT-Arlington in the last game of the regular season and they went on to win the (SLC Tournament). Our kids understand that in this league anyone can make a run. You just have to make the tournament.”
If the Bobcats can accomplish that much, they will have soundly confounded the expectations of the league’s coaches.
The Bobcats will open their season on Nov. 14 against Cal State-Fullerton at the Verizon Tip-Off Classic in Honolulu.Email | Print