The Port Arthur News
BEAUMONT — When Lamar University fans bid farewell to six seniors Saturday afternoon at the Montagne Center, it will be surprising if the longest and loudest ovation does not go to 6-1, 195 pound Devon Lamb.
Lamb may not be the best player among the senior six, although a strong case could be built on his behalf, but there’s no denying he’s the most unique. Matter of fact, you could make a pretty strong argument that the kid from Jacksonville, Fla., with the non-stop motor is one of the most remarkable players ever to wear a Cardinal uniform.
“Devon is truly one of kind,” says LU coach Pat Knight, of the undersized player who leads the Cardinals in rebounding for the second consecutive year. “I don’t know if you could ever find another guy like him. He’s been so much fun to coach. He works so hard in practice and he knows how to play to his strength.”
Lamb, who got a pass during Knight’s senior rant last week, enters his home finale averaging 11.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.8 steals, while shooting a team best 48.3 percent from the field. He’s second in the SLC in rebounding, tied for third in steals and 10 double-doubles on the season bring his career total to 19.
To fully appreciate what a guy of Lamb’s size has done on the boards, you need to understand he was a shooting guard in high school and a combo guard in junior college. He was also a scoring machine at both levels, averaging 22 points on a state championship high school team and putting up a national JC best 27.8 ppg his final year at Southwestern Christian College.
So what’s a guy like that doing hanging out around the basket snatching missed shots away from much bigger players?
“I patterned my game after Amare Stoudamire, going back to when he was playing at Phoenix,” said Lamb. “He loved getting rebounds, so I love getting rebounds. Maybe I’m not supposed to be able to do that at 6-1, but when I’m out there I feel like I’m the tallest guy on the floor. And I’m strong enough to move people. As for my hops (leaping ability), they just came out of nowhere.
Stoudamire, by the way, is 6-9.
Lamb, believe it or not, was the tallest guy on his team in middle school and played center. But he stopped growing at 6-1 and got moved to guard. That explains why he can handle the ball, is so adept at stealing the ball and can step outside and make jumpers.
But what’s his secret to getting so many rebounds?
“First, you have to want the ball more than anybody else,” he said. “And you have to know the guys on your team. In junior college, I understood my teammates so well I knew when they were going to shoot. I would just go to the rim. It’s gotten that way here. Plus, I try to know what side the ball is going to come off on.”
Knight says that no matter how much he watches Lamb play he never ceases to be amazed.
“I watched the tapes before I took the job and thought he was a lot bigger,” said the LU coach. “When I got here and first saw him up close, I said you gotta be kidding me. I’ve never seen a player quite like that. In college, everybody is so enamored with size at every position, then you see a guy like him come along and you just shake your head.
“My dad just loves him, loves the way he works his butt off to get rebounds. That mentality is something he must have been born with. He will go down as one of my all-time favorites. I can envision sitting around with coaches 10, 20 years from now and telling them about Devon Lamb and what a killer rebounder he was at 6 feet, or whatever he is.”
Lamb has twice had 15 rebounds in a game this season, against Stephen F. Austin and Arkansas State. Against Arkansas State, he had 13 points, three steals and three blocked shots to go with the 15 rebounds. In Lamar’s win over Rice, he had 17 points, 11 rebounds, three steals and three assists. Only on rare occasions does he not play a significant role for the Cardinals.
McNeese State, which will be battling LU for the Southland Conference East Division top spot this afternoon, won’t need any reminders on Lamb. He’s averaged 17.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in his last two meetings with the Cowboys.
Lamb, who is at Lamar because he was going wherever his best buddy, Brandon Davis, went, says he thinks the Cardinals are playing their best basketball during his two seasons in Beaumont. He gives full credit to Knight, and what many thought was an over-the-top approach of calling out his seniors after the Stephen F. Austin loss.
“He was just being real,” said Lamb. “How we played against SFA, I’d have done the same thing as a coach. I’d have been pissed because we had an opportunity to be in great position and we messed it up because we didn’t play as a team, like we are now. As a senior, I could totally understand why he did it.
“It was tough love and we responded to it Everybody took it to heart. We know if we focus, stay positive and play hard, coach will be with us through thick and thin. Everybody loves Coach Knight. We think he’s the best. For sure, he’s the best coach I’ve ever been around. He does a great job of getting us prepared.”
Knowing he has a guy like No. 4 surely helps the preparation. It’s why Knight figures to be applauding with all the other fans when public address announcer Bob Thewman calls Lamb’s name for the final time around 3:30 p.m. today.
McNeese St. at Lamar
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.:
Where: Montagne Center, Beaumont
Records: MSU 10-5, 15-13; LU 10-5, 19-11
Series: LU leads 48-42
Last meeting: McNeese 57-54 on Jan. 11 in Lake Charles
Radio: KLVI (560-AM)
Probable starters — MSU: Patrick Richard 6-4, Sr. (18.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.1 apg); Desharik Guidry 6-5, Fr. (5.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg; Daniel Richad 6-9, Sr. (3.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg); Jeremie Mitchell 6-3, Jr. (11.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg); Dontae Cannon 6-1, Jr. (10.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg). LU: Anthony Miles 6-1, Sr. (14.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.0 apg); Devon Lamb 6-1, Sr. (11.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg); Mike James 6-1, Sr. (16.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg); Stan Brown 6-8, Jr. (5.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg); Brandon Davis 6-6, Sr. (9.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg).
MSU fast fact: Cowboys coach Dave Simmons is 6-3 against Lamar and won 78-76 last year in the Montagne Center.
LU fast fact: With a victory the Cardinals win the Southland Conference East Division and finish reach 20 wins for the first time since the 1987-88 season.