Cardinals to tip off practice Friday morning
Published 3:24 pm Thursday, October 1, 2015
Lamar sports information
BEAUMONT — The Lamar University men’s basketball team will begin preparations for the 2015-16 season with its first official practice Friday morning.
It will be the team’s first full practice since posting a 15-15 overall record last season while finishing sixth in the Southland Conference (9-9).
“I’m real excited about the start of a new season,” said Tic Price, who is entering his second season as the Cardinals’ head coach. “As a team we are ready to get started. Our goal is to build on what we were able to accomplish a year ago. We have a lot of young guys on this team, so we are going to be teaching more, especially early on. What everyone has to understand is there is going to be maturation process with these guys. Having said that, once the season gets here they will be thrown into the fire and they will have to be ready to go.”
Although last year’s .500 campaign may not look like much to the average fan, it takes on greater meaning when placed in the proper context. The Cardinals more than doubled their win totals from the two previous seasons combined. It was a similar story in conference play as LU’s nine Southland wins were more than twice the number from the two previous seasons.
Big Red’s 11-game turnaround was also recognized on a national level. The 15 wins, coming on the heels of a 4-26 campaign, was the 11th-best single-season turnaround in the nation last season.
For the Cardinals to improve upon those numbers in 2015-16, they will be relying on a host of young players. Big Red returns only seven players from last year’s team and will be looking to replace its top three scorers. Senior Dontavious Sears returns as the team’s leading scorer coming off the bench to average better than seven points per game in 2015-16.
Sears will be joined by classmates LeMon Gregory (center) and Quan Jones (guard). The rest of the returners are sophomores Kevin Booze (guard) and Zjori Bosha and juniors Preston Mattingly (forward) and Marcus Owens (guard/forward).
The 2015-16 class of newcomers boasts of eight players, including five freshmen and two junior college transfers. The freshmen included Dorian Chatman (6-foot-6, 224, forward), Nick Garth (5-11, 185, guard), Kirk Mason (6-2, 180, guard), Josh Nzeakor (6-6, 207, forward), Terrance Hubby (6-4, 191, forward) and Boaz Williams (6-6, 197, forward). The transfers are Lincoln Davis (6-0, 173, guard) and Christian Kennedy (6-10, 202, center).
“We’ve added some high character guys who we believe will really help this program,” said Price. “But, it doesn’t matter how talented a kid is, there is always going to be an adjustment from high school to the NCAA Division I level. There is new terminology these guys are going to have to learn, the speed of the game is a lot different and they have to bring a high-energy level each day. I, along with my staff, will have to make sure we exercise patience and focus on their development.”
The Red and White tips off the home season Friday, Nov. 13 against Austin College in the Montange Center. The non-conference portion of the season has dates scheduled at Fresno State, Delaware State, Rice and Virginia Tech, while California-Riverside, Texas-Rio Grande Valley (formerly Texas-Pan American) and Idaho State travel to Beaumont. LU opens Southland Conference play Saturday, Jan. 2, at Nicholls State.
“The good thing about starting a new season is we all start at the bottom of the mountain and we all have to make the same climb,” said Price. “Come March, there is only going to be one king of the hill. We have to do things the right way both on and off the court to be able to make a successful climb.”
LU fans will have an opportunity to watch the Cardinals play before the start of the regular season. The team will host its annual Red and White scrimmage Tuesday, Nov. 3, at the Montagne Center. Fans wishing to buy season tickets should contact the LU Ticket Office at (409) 880-1715, or by logging onto www.LamarCardinals.com.