Cards streaking with changing lineup

Published 3:14 pm Friday, January 1, 2016

As impressive as the Lamar men’s basketball team has been in December, so has been the ability to win with seven new faces on a team of 14 — let alone seven different starting lineups.

Second-year head coach Tic Price won’t apologize for that.

“With so many young guys and so many interchangeable parts, it’s going to change from time to time,” Price said Thursday. “I don’t get caught up into who starts as much as who finishes. We’ve just got to make sure who finishes.”

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Lamar (8-4) finished well last month, winning six of seven games and heading into the start of Southland Conference play. But the Cardinals’ youth will be tested beginning Saturday when they visit a Nicholls State (4-9) team that’s taken its lumps from the likes of Florida State, New Mexico, SMU and Colorado State, to name a few.

“Conference is a little bit tougher to get a win, and with so many people having never played in the Southland Conference, this is what you compare conference to — whatever your biggest rival is in high school and double that,” Price said.

The three leading scorers for the Cardinals — Nick Garth (13.3 points per game), Lincoln Davis (10.6) and Dorian Chatman (10.1) — are all newcomers. Davis, a junior transfer guard, is the only Cardinal to start every game this season. Chatman, the freshman from Port Arthur, has started all but one game this season, changing from center to forward at times.

Garth, the hot-shooting freshman guard from Houston, has been a starter the past two games after backing up Davis as a shooting guard and is listed as a probable starter for Saturday with Davis at the point, juniors Marcus Owens and Preston Mattingly and Chatman at the forwards. But Garth has scored no more than six points in those two starts, after starting his career with 10 straight double-digit games (with a career-high 22 points against Liberty on Dec. 12).

More importantly than statistics alone, the Cardinals are living up to the cliché of clicking right on time, currently riding a three-game winning streak.

“We’re executing better offensively,” Price said. “Guys are beginning to buy into the roles I gave them earlier. It’s not been easy for them to transfer into, but they’re trying to.”

As far as the new Cardinals finding their roles, Price said they’ve succeeded in what he called “on-the-job training.”

Three Nicholls State players each have started all 13 games, and they all lead the Colonels in scoring. The main standout has been redshirt junior forward Ja’Dante Frye, who averaged 17.2 points and 5.9 rebounds. Senior guard T.J. Carpenter (12.6 ppg) has scored in single digits just once this season.

“Nicholls runs a system and it’s a real good system where they run stagger screens and backdoors, opening opportunities for their players,” Price said.

Lamar will return to Beaumont to host New Orleans, one of Price’s former teams, at 7:30 p.m. Monday, so the Cardinals are figuratively sprinting into conference play, to say the least.

“You can’t pace yourself for conference play,” he said. “You can’t take plays off. Every play has got to be made with intensity and will.”


About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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