Lamar Cardinals

Jacob Parker (Getty Images)

2014-15 Southland Preview: Can Stephen F. Austin go unbeaten again?

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source: Getty Images
Jacob Parker (Getty Images)

Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 college hoops preview package.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

Stephen F. Austin has a lot to live up to if they hope to achieve similar success in 2014-15. The 2013-14 iteration of the Lumberjacks went 32-3, 20-0 in the Southland, won 29 straight games and beat VCU in the Round of 64 before falling to UCLA.

That’s quite an accomplishment for first-year head coach Brad Underwood, a former assistant of Frank Martin, who had tremendous balance and perimeter shooting last season. Although Stephen F. Austin loses leading scorer Desmond Haymon and another double-figure scorer in Deshaunt Walker, they do return Southland Player of the Year Jacob Parker, as well as Southland Tournament MVP Thomas Walkup and point guard Trey Pinckney.

The trio of returning starters is more than enough with others filling the departed players’ shoes to once again win the Southland Conference Title, as the Lumberjacks were one of the country’s best non-power conference teams last season.

Underwood’s team is the heavy favorite and he received an eight-year deal after last season.

The early runner-up candidate behind Stephen F. Austin is Sam Houston State, who returns seven contributors from last season including Southland Newcomer of the Year and 6-foot-4 senior Jabari Peters. Peters started all 35 games last season, along with three other returning starters: 6-foot-0 guard Kaheem Ransom, 6-foot-1 junior Paul Baxter and 6-foot-11 center Michael Holyfield.

This is a deep and experienced team. The Bearkats lost in the Southland title game last season and finished 24-11 (13-5).

Northwestern State is situated next as junior point guard Jalen West averaged 19.4 points and 6.4 assists last season for an offense that averaged 86.6 points per game, good enough for second in the nation. The Demons also return Southland Freshman of the Year, 6-foot-2 guard Zeek Woodley and 6-foot-9 center Marvin Frazier.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi returns after a 14-4 conference mark and all-league candidate John Jordan is back at point guard. The Islanders could compete in the Southland as 6-foot-7 sophomore forward Rashawn Thomas also returns. McNeese State and Incarnate Word both have all-conference caliber players in senior guards Kevin Hardy and Denzel Livingston. Both of those players are capable of making plays all over the floor and each averaged over two steals a game last season.

It’s worth noting that Abilene Christian and Incarnate Word are playing full 18-game Southland schedules this season for the first time, but both remain ineligible for the NCAA Tournament after transitioning from Division II. Central Arkansas, Houston Baptist and Lamar are all banned from the postseason due to low APR scores.

Of the 13 teams in the Southland, only eight may play in the postseason in 2014-15.


  • In: None
  • Out: Oral Roberts


The reigning Southland Player of the Year, the 6-foot-6 Parker is one of three returning starters for a team that reached the Round of 32 in 2014. The senior averaged 14.2 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.4 steals per game last season while shooting 53 percent from the field, 46 percent from three-point range and 79 percent from the free-throw line. Efficient and productive from all over the floor, Parker will be the key for Stephen F. Austin to maintain last year’s success after the Lumberjacks lost some valuable seniors.


  • Kevin Hardy, McNeese State: Do-it-all 6-foot-2 senior guard averaged 11 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2 steals per game last season.
  • John Jordan, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi: A dynamic, play-making senior guard, the 5-foot-10 Jordan averaged 14.8 points and 5.4 assists per game as a junior.
  • Denzel Livingston, Incarnate Word: The 6-foot-4 senior combo guard averaged 20.3 points per game and a Southland-leading 2.5 steals per game as he scored 20 or more points in 10 of the last 11 games in 2013-14.
  • Jalan West, Northwestern State: The 5-foot-10 junior point guard averaged 19.4 points and a Southland-best 6.4 assists per game last season and could de-throne Parker for Player of the Year honors.



1. Stephen F. Austin
2. Sam Houston State
3. Northwestern State
4. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
5. McNeese State
6. Incarnate Word
7. Southeastern Louisiana
8. New Orleans
9. Nicholls State
10. Abilene Christian
11. Houston Baptist
12. Central Arkansas
13. Lamar

Lamar head coach Tic Price completes coaching staff with two hires

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New Lamar head coach Tic Price has filled out his coaching staff for the 2014-15 season, with the school announcing the hiring of assistant coach Brian Burton and director of basketball operations Matt Pace on Friday. Burton, who spent his last three seasons at new Division I school Abilene Christian, takes over the role left vacant when Tony Madlock joined Andy Kennedy’s staff at Ole Miss.

Burton also has coaching experience at the junior college level, and that experience can help Lamar on the recruiting trail given the number of quality junior college programs in the state.

“Coach Burton a rising star with a high ceiling,” Price said in the release. “I believe he has a great future ahead of him. Brian has the ability relate well to players. One of the things I liked about him is that he is a tireless worker on the court and on the recruiting trail. He has a great eye for talent.”

Price will begin his first full season as the head coach at Lamar after serving as the team’s interim head coach in the last five games of the 2013-14 season. Lamar finished the year with a 4-26 record, going 3-15 in Southland Conference play. Lamar returns two of its top four scorers from that team, led by senior forward Donovan Ross (10.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg).

Lamar removes interim tag, Tic Price named head coach

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To follow along with the 2014 Coaching Carousel, click here.

After serving as the interim head coach for the final five games of the season, Lamar Director of Athletics  Jason Henderson removed the interim tag from head coach Tic Price on Tuesday afternoon.

Price took over the program after Pat Knight, son of the Hall of Fame coach, was fired after two-plus seasons.

“This is a great job,” Price said in a statement. “From a recruiting standpoint, we are in a great location —  within a 250 mile radius you can find talented players. From an academic standpoint, Lamar can challenge any school in the country. We have some really good professors and an excellent administration. There is a sense of family here, and unless you are a part of Lamar you just won’t understand it.

“My family and I have grown to love the Beaumont area. We have met some wonderful people, are part of a wonderful church and this is a great place to live. I truly love this university. It has given me the opportunity to grow professionally as a coach and an administrator.”

This will be his fourth head coaching job after roaming the sidelines at the University of New Orleans (1994-1997), Memphis (1997-1999) and McNeese State (2001-2006). Price has compiled a combined 168-131 record in those three stints.

The Cardinals are 7-54 (4-32 Southland) in the last two seasons. Price was 1-4 as an interim coach.

Lamar head coach Pat Knight fired after two-plus seasons

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After two-plus seasons at Lamar, head coach Pat Knight, son of the Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight, was fired by the university on Sunday morning, according to a report from ESPN’s Andy Katz.

The Cardinals are 2-11 in the Southland Conference and lost to Northwestern State, 87-67, on Saturday; the team’s fourth straight defeat.

“I was told last night to meet with the president and the AD this morning at 10 a.m.,” Knight told Katz on Sunday afternoon after confirming the news. “I knew it. There’s no talk. They said they want to go in a different direction. We struggled for two years. It’s all based on the record. It’s part of the business.”

Pat Knight took over the program in 2011, and led the Cardinals to the 2012 NCAA Tournament in that first season, before losing to Vermont in a play-in game in Dayton. Knight made news late in that campaign when he went on an epic post-game rant following a 62-52 loss to Stephen F. Austin on Feb. 22.

During that press conference, he stated, this was “worst group of seniors right now that I’ve ever been associated with”. Following that outburst, the then-17-11 Cards won six straight games, including the Southland Conference tournament.

However, it has been downhill since that late-season run into the NCAA tournament. Lamar went 3-28 last season, and 25 games into this season the team had matched that dismal win total from the previous season with a 3-22 record. Knight took over for his father for final 11 games of the 2007-2008 season at Texas Tech after Bob Knight suddenly resigned. In three-plus seasons with the Red Raiders, Knight went 50-61.

Lamar, currently half a game out of last place in the Southland Conference, has five games remaining in the regular season. The Cardinals begin the post-Pat Knight era on Saturday at home against Sam Houston State.

2013-14 Southland Preview: Realignment brings plenty of unfamiliar faces

Oklahoma Oral Roberts Basketball
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ORU Athletics

All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of the Conference Previews we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

If the Southland Conference had an unofficial motto this season, it might be “Who Dat?”

Seismic shifts at the top of the NCAA power structure draw the most ink, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a league that has been more visibly impacted by realignment than the Southland. Texas State, UT-Arlington (both now Sun Belt) and UT-San Antonio (C-USA) bolted last season to jump on the BCS football gravy train, and Oral Roberts traded in the Summit League’s frequent flyer miles to join the Southland. The league’s tight four-state footprint solidified this year with the addition of New Orleans, Houston Baptist and transitional DI members Abilene Christian and Incarnate Word.

Incarnate Word? Who Dat?

(MORE: Oral Roberts looks to return to their Giant-Killer roots)

The Southland isn’t entirely devoid of name recognition, however. Scott Sutton’s Oral Roberts team was an upset special waiting to happen in the late 2000s, and the Golden Eagles have enough talent, although inexperienced, to feast on the diluted Southland slate this season. Pat Knight, son of the legendary Bobby Knight and former Texas Tech coach, has struggled to build a consistent contender at Lamar, but at least he’s a familiar face. Northwestern State, last season’s auto-bid winner, is losing a lot of senior leadership, so they’re likely to suffer the mid-major curse and fall off the pace a bit. The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks won 27 games last season and missed the Big Dance in a narrow two-point loss in the league’s title game, so they’ll be in the mix as well.


In: Abilene Christian, Houston Baptist, Incarnate Word, New Orleans
Out: None


A rather slight 6-foot-7 wing, Glover got plenty of minutes in two seasons at Utah but just couldn’t finish well enough. After sitting out a season, he came on strong for ORU, sharing the team lead in blocks and steals while averaging 14.4 points per game. Glover is a strong all-around player who should thrive in his senior season.


  • Jalan West, Northwestern State: The redshirt sophomore should build on his strong debut season at the point.
  • Dederick Lee, Oral Roberts: The highly-regarded freshman from Clarksville, Arkansas had an offer from the Razorbacks, but will star for Sutton instead.
  • LaQuintin Miles, Central Arkansas: Miles can really pour it on if he finds a way to improve on last season’s 44 percent mark from the floor.
  • DeQuan Hicks, Northwestern State: Hicks had 12 points and 8 boards against Florida in the NCAA tournament last year. He’s ready to make a difference as a senior.


1. Oral Roberts
2. Northwestern State
3. Southeastern Louisiana
4. Stephen F. Austin
5. Sam Houston State
6. Central Arkansas
7. Nicholls State
8. McNeese State
9. Texas A&M Corpus Christi
10. Houston Baptist
11. New Orleans
12. Lamar
13. Abilene Christian
14. Incarnate Word