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Southland 2002-03 Season Recap

April 29, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Southland Conference Recap

by Scott Allen

The race for the regular season conference title came down to the last weekend with Sam Houston State securing its second regular season crown in four years and Stephen F. Austin finishing a close second. The Bearkats and Lumberjacks both showed that the recipe for success in the SLC is good home cookin’, combining to go 20-0 in conference play and 30-1 at home overall.

For as dominating as the teams at the top of the standings were at home, the conference cellar dweller couldn’t find success no matter where they played. Nicholls State lost 14-straight games to end the season and finished 1-19 in conference play. The Colonels, who started three seniors, were even outshined throughout the season by the nation’s youngest team, Northwestern State, which managed five more wins in conference play despite not having a single senior on the roster.

Defending SLC champion McNeese State was one of three teams to finish 10-10 in conference play, as five teams finished within one game of each other in the middle of the conference standings. The story of the season, besides Sam Houston State earning its first NCAA tournament bid, was the infiltration of new talent in the form of junior college transfers. One such transfer, Texas-San Antonio’s LeRoy Hurd, led the conference in scoring with 17.6 points per game.

Southland Conference Tournament Recap:

Having received first-round byes in the tournament by finishing first and second during the regular season, Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin dispatched of McNeese State and Southwest Texas, respectively, in the semifinals to set up a very exciting nationally televised Southland Conference final.

The top-seeded Bearkats let a 14-point second half lead slip away before finally prevailing in overtime, 69-66. Donald Cole, who scored 19 of his 26 points in the second half, nailed a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left in overtime and later added a free throw to seal the win. The SLC player of the year also tallied 11 rebounds. The Sam Houston State win marked the eighth straight year that a different team has won the conference tournament. No team has won back-to-back tournaments since Lamar ten years ago.

NCAA Tournament Results:

No. 15 Sam Houston State, South Region
First round: lost to No. 2 Florida, 85-55

All Southland Conference Team:
Donald Cole, senior forward, Sam Houston State
Kirby Lemons, senior forward, Louisiana-Monroe
Percy Green, senior forward, Stephen F. Ausin
Leroy Hurd, junior forward, Texas-San Antonio
Terry Conerway, junior guard, Southwest Texas State

Honorable mentions:
Robert Shannon, Sam Houston State
Jason Coleman, McNeese State
Amir Abdur-Rahim, Southeastern Louisiana
Mack Callier, Texas-Arlington
Ron Austin, Lamar

Conference Player of the Year:

Donald Cole, senior forward, Sam Houston State

Cole finished second in the conference in scoring (17.4 points per game) and third in rebounding (8.2 rebounds per game) but more importantly was the anchor of the Southland Conference’s representative in the NCAA tournament. Cole shined in the conference tournament as well, earning MVP honors.

Conference Freshman of the Year:

Jermaine Wallace, Northwestern State

Conference “Newcomer” of the year:

Terry Conerway, Southwest Texas State

Conference Defensive Player of the Year:

Eddy Fobbs, Sam Houston State

Southland Coach of the Year:

Bob Marlin, Sam Houston State

In his fifth season as head coach of the Bearkats, Marlin led them to their first Southland Conference title and the school’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament. With a plethora of senior leadership, Sam Houston State was predicted to finish first in the conference in the preseason coaches’ poll, but Marlin’s leadership was a large part of the Bearkats’ living up to that hype.

Sam Houston State (23-6, 17-3)

Starters leaving: 5
Donald Cole, graduated
Felton Freeman, graduated
Robert Shannon, graduated
Eddy Barlow, graduated
Jay Oliphant, graduated

Key players staying/underclassmen starters returning:
Eddy Fobbs, junior center

Stat Sheet:
Donald Cole, 17.5 points per game
Donald Cole, 8.2 rebounds per game
Robert Shannon, 5.7 assists per game

Stephen F. Austin (21-8, 16-4)

Starters leaving: 2
Percy Green, graduated
Ben Hunt, graduated

Key players staying/underclassmen starters returning:
Antonio Burks, junior guard
Stevin Ozier, sophomore forward
Jasen Gast, junior guard
B.J. Banks, junior guard

Stat Sheet:
Percy Green, 12.3 points per game
Stevin Ozier, 4.2 rebounds per game
Marcus Clark, 3.4 assists per game

Texas-Arlington (16-13, 13-7)

Starters leaving: 2
Mack Callier, graduated
Josh Daniel, graduated

Key players staying/underclassmen starters returning:
Keith Howell, junior guard
Derrick Obasohan, junior forward

Stat Sheet:
Keith Howell, 11.3 points per game
Mack Callier, 7.9 rebounds per game
Josh Daniel, 4.6 assists per game

Southwest Texas State (17-12, 11-9)

Starters leaving: 2
David Sykes, graduated
Brady Richeson, graduated

Key players staying/underclassmen starters returning:
Terry Conerway, junior guard
Jeremiah Coleman, junior forward

Stat Sheet:
Terry Conerway, 15.4 points per game
Terry Conerway, 5.8 rebounds per game
David Sykes, 4.6 assists per game

McNeese State (15-14, 10-10)

Starters leaving: 3
Jason Coleman, graduated
Adrian Johnson, graduated
Damond Williams, graduated

Key players staying/underclassmen starters returning:
Greg Tucker, junior guard
Edward Garriet, junior guard

Stat Sheet:
Jason Coleman, 14.9 points per game
Damond Williams, 6.3 rebounds per game
Eldridge Lewis, 4.3 assists per game

Lamar (13-14, 10-10)

Starters leaving: 4
Lewis Arline, graduated
Eddie Robinson, graduated
Damany Hendrix, graduated
Ron Austin, graduated

Other key losses:
Terrell Petteway, graduated

Key players staying/underclassmen starters returning:
Sophomore center Brian Rowan

Coaching change: Lamar Athletic Director Billy Tubbs will replace Mike Deane, who compiled a 52-62 record in four-years with the Cardinals.

Stat Sheet:
Ron Austin, 15.7 points per game
Lewis Arline, 8.7 rebounds per game
Eddie Robinson, 4.4 assists per game

Louisiana-Monroe (12-16, 10-10)

Starters leaving: 1
Kirby Lemons, graduated

Other key loss:
Reggie Griffin, graduated

Key players staying/underclassmen starters returning:
John Andrews, junior guard
Brandon Horn, junior guard

Stat Sheet:
Kirby Lemons, 16.7 points per game
Kirby Lemons, 10.2 rebounds per game
Brandon Horn, 2.8 assists per game

Southeastern Louisiana (11-16, 9-11)

Starters leaving: 2
Marcus Smith, graduated
Dyron Clark, graduated

Key players staying/underclassmen starters returning:
Amir Abdur-Rahim, junior guard
Terry West, junior forward
Gary Solomon, junior forward

Stat Sheet:
Amir Abdur-Rahim, 15.4 points per game
Terry West, 4.7 rebounds per game
Michael Gardener, 3.3 assists per game

Northwestern State (6-21, 6-14)

Starters leaving: 0

Key players staying/underclassmen starters returning:
Jermaine Wallace, freshman forward
Clifton Lee, freshman forward
Byron Allen, freshman center

Stat Sheet:
Jermaine Wallace, 11.1 points per game
Clifton Jones, 6.2 rebounds per game
Tyronn Mitchell, 3.3 assists per game

Texas-San Antonio (10-17, 7-13)

Starters leaving: 2
Ike Akataobi, graduated
Raymond Briggs, graduated

Key players staying/underclassmen starters returning:
Leroy Hurd, junior forward
Sammy Cole, junior guard

Stat Sheet:
Leroy Hurd, 17.6 points per game
Leroy Hurd, 8.0 rebounds per game
David President, 3.3 assists per game

Nicholls State (3-25, 1-19)

Starters leaving: 3
Clifton Jones, graduated
Earnest Porter, graduated
Damien Lennon, graduated

Other key losses:
Beau O’Quin, graduated

Key players staying/underclassmen starters returning:
Anthony Wilcher, junior forward
Eric James, freshman forward

Stat Sheet:
Earnest Porter, 11.3 points per game
Earnest Porter, 6.3 rebounds per game
Markeith Brown, 2.5 assists per game


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