Northwestern State Demons

Jalan West (AP Photo)

Northwestern State’s West reinjures knee

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A second knee injury in one year may cost one of the country’s top point guards a second season.

Northwestern State’s Jalan West re-injured his left knee last week and may not be healthy enough to play the upcoming season, the school announced Tuesday. West tore his ACL and suffered cartilage damage while doing a drill in practice.

West, who averaged at least 19 points per game in his last two full seasons, was granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA this spring after the initial knee injury, suffered in the Demons’ 2015-16 season opener, sidelined him.

He was cleared to practice. It’s agonizing for this to happen for such a top quality person, who has worked so hard to get back to full speed,” said coach Mike McConathy in a statement.

“He’s the kind of person you want to coach, you dream of coaching. He’s told us that what hurts so badly is that he has such a desire to win a championship with this group of teammates who have stood by him.”

Northwestern State isn’t ruling out a return by West this season as an aggressive rehab schedule could have him ready to hit the court by March, but given the severity of the injury and that it’s the second time he’s injured the same knee, that would appear to be an incredibly optimistic forecast.

“It can take six months, it can take eight or 10 months,”McConathy said. “We do know Jalan will do all he can to get back to full speed.”

The loss of West is a significant one not only for Northwestern State, but college basketball at large. West was one of the game’s more dynamic offensive players at 5-foot-10, averaging 20 points and 7.7 assists as a junior. The Demons went 8-20 last season without him.

Northwestern State loses star PG West to torn ACL

Jalan West, Rico Gathers
Associated Press
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Few tandems in college basketball last season were as productive as Northwestern State guards Jalan West and Zeek Woodley, and with both players returning Mike McConathy’s Demons were seen as the biggest threat to two-time defending champion Stephen F. Austin in the Southland Conference. Tuesday afternoon the program announced news that will undoubtedly impact it’s pursuit of an NCAA tournament berth, with a torn ACL ending West’s season after just one game.

West suffered the injury in the final minute of Northwestern State’s season opening loss at Ole Miss Friday night, and the school will apply for a medical redshirt that would open the door for a return in 2016-17 as a fifth-year senior.

Without West even more responsibility falls upon the shoulders of Woodley, who last season led the team with an average of 22.2 points per game. But in West the Demons lose a player who not only averaged 20.0 points per game but also led the nation with 7.7 assists per contest. That kind of player, one who can both get hot himself (he scored 24 of his 25 points Friday night in the second half) and set up others, isn’t easily replaceable.

Sophomore Devonte Hall, who accounted for two points, five rebounds and two assists in 15 minutes of action against Ole Miss, is one player who will need to step into that point guard role moving forward. As for the scoring, guards Malik Metoyer (freshman) and Sabri Thompson (junior) will see increased scoring opportunities with West sidelined.

Jalan West, his school president and a backyard game of HORSE (VIDEO)

Northwestern State v Texas Tech
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It all started with this tweet a month ago:

That’s Jalan West, the star of Northwestern State and one of the best mid-major guards in the country, challenging the school’s president to a game of HORSE.

Dr. Jim Henderson accepted the challenge, and while the two spent roughly a month talking trash on twitter, on Monday evening, they finally got together in Henderson’s backyard. Henderson took an early lead on West, but the diminutive point guard finished off the comeback by … using Henderson’s wife as a weapon?

Just watch:

Northwestern State staff wears special pants for ‘Suits and Sneakers’ game against McNeese State (PHOTO)

Patrick Netherton
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Throughout this week coaching staffs have eschewed the usual dress shoes in favor of sneakers, with the “Suits and Sneakers” initiative being sponsored by Coaches vs. Cancer. But for some staffs, wearing sneakers with a suit is viewed as a fashion faux pas and they’ve decided to dress down some.

And then there’s Mike McConathy and his staff at Northwestern State. For the Demons’ game against McNeese State on Saturday, the staff wore some impressive pants that can be seen below. Northwestern State won the game in convincing fashion, 92-68, with one of the better perimeter tandems that doesn’t get a whole lot of national attention leading the way.

Jalan West finished the game with 25 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, and fellow guard Zikiteran “Zeek” Woodley added 23 points on 10-for-15 shooting along with three blocks and two steals.

Belmont’s Rick Byrd wins No. 700, Northwestern State’s Mike McConathy wins No. 600

Belmont v Kansas
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While college basketball fans are watching for Coach K closing in on 1,000 career wins this week, a few respected Division I head coaches hit milestone coaching win totals with wins on Saturday.

Belmont head coach Rick Byrd won for the 700th time in the Bruins’ win over Austin Peay. Byrd has made the NCAA Tournament six times at the school and has 608 of his wins at Belmont.

Northwestern State head coach Mike McConathy took his 600th victory in the Demons’ win over Lamar. McConathy has been at Northwestern State for 16 seasons and been to the NCAA Tournament three times, most notably in 2006 when his No. 14-seeded Demons took down Iowa for the big first-round upset.

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

Jacob Parker (Getty Images)
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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 NBCSports.com 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.

REALIGNMENT

  • In: None
  • Out: Oral Roberts

PRESEASON SOUTHLAND PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jacob Parker, Stephen F. Austin

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.

THE REST OF THE PRESEASON ALL-SOUTHLAND TEAM:

  • 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.

ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @SFA_MBB

PREDICTED FINISH

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