Catching Up with LSUS Men's Basketball
October 25, 2006
With the loss of an assistant coach and the temporary loss of a sports information director, the information flow concerning the men’s basketball team has slowed to a trickle over the past few months. With a new assistant coach in place, several new players, and a #2 national pre-season ranking, that trickle is about to turn into a flood!
Midnight Madness is scheduled for 10:00 pm on Friday, October 27 with a season-opening away game on November 3 versus Paul Quinn College in Dallas and a home opener against Wiley College on November 7. We invite you to come out to support the Pilots for what promises to be another exciting season of NAIA Division I basketball.
Hope you enjoy catching up with the Pilots through the following stories:
Summer Basketball Camps continue to draw big numbers – During the past Summer, the LSUS Pilots men’s basketball team hosted two individual camps—a ball-handling camp and a shooting camp--as well as a high school team camp. The camps have continued to grow over the years in the number of participants and there are a significant number of campers who return each year for these weeks of fun instruction. Approximately 200 boys and girls attended at least one of the camps during the first three weeks in June. Along with the great instruction these young boys and girls receive, they also have the opportunity to play basketball with some of their favorite Pilots players. All of the individual camps are led by the men’s basketball coaching staff, assisted by a host of players from the Pilots’ roster. The high school team camp was once again a tremendous success. Fourteen local high school basketball teams came together over a three-day period to compete against one another. This was a great opportunity for prospective student-athletes to see our campus and facilities, as well as a good chance for the Pilots coaching staff to scout much of the local and area talent.
Pilots make a visit to a local church basketball camp – Head Coach Chad McDowell and two of Pilots basketball players visited Noel United Methodist Church during an Upward basketball camp this past Summer. Kyile Byrd, a transfer student from the University of Texas–San Antonio, and Freddy Hughes, a returning starting point guard for the Pilots, entertained the campers with their exceptional ball-handling, shooting, and dunking skills. Coach McDowell spoke to the group about what it takes to be a winner in life. The campers seemed to enjoy themselves and had a tremendous amount of admiration for the two players. They displayed their enthusiasm by literally swarming them for their autographs at the conclusion of the presentation.
Ryan Edwards joins LSUS men’s basketball coaching staff – In addition to recruiting players for the upcoming season, Head men’s basketball Coach Chad McDowell was faced with recruiting an assistant coach during the Summer and early Fall. Three-year assistant coach John Unger left the program to pursue other career opportunities, moving back to his alma mater, the University of Arkansas with the intention of attending law school. McDowell didn’t have far to look to find another good assistant. Ryan Edwards, former assistant coach for the Northwestern State University Demons, has been announced as the new men’s assistant basketball coach. Coach McDowell is excited about the addition of Edwards to our basketball staff. “We are thrilled to have Ryan come be a part of us and know that he will be a great addition to our program.”
Blankenship remains a part of the LSUS basketball family - Once family with Coach McDowell and the LSUS basketball team, always family. Former Pilots player Kyle Blankenship is taking this concept to heart and has decided to not move out of the house. When the home crowd gets their first peek at the LSUS Pilots on November 7 against Wiley College, there will be a familiar face on the bench. Blankenship, a standout point guard for the Pilots last season, has decided to join the men’s basketball staff as an assistant coach. “I am glad that Kyle has decided to stay on board and help us continue our winning ways. I have known Kyle for over ten years now as a player and I am certain he will be an asset to our players, program, and university.” Prior to transferring to LSUS from the University of Tulsa, Kyle had played high school basketball at Shreveport’s C. E. Byrd High School. His high school coach? Chad McDowell!
Ron Harris added to the 2006 – 2007 roster - Head Coach Chad McDowell was surprised in late August to learn that a 6’7” post player was eligible and looking for a place to play. A coaching friend contacted McDowell to tell him about Ron Harris, a young man who decided to transfer to LSUS from West Texas A. & M. University after having played previously at the University of North Texas. Following a visit to the LSUS campus and a chance to meet the players and coaching staff, Ron decided that he wanted to be a Pilot. He adds needed size and strength in the post to the Pilots roster.
LSUS picked to win GCAC Championship – The LSUS Pilots have been atop the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference standings over the past two years and this year have been selected by the coaches in the conference as the front-runner to win it again. The GCAC annual meeting was held in early October in New Orleans, where coaches voted for preseason all-conference teams and preseason order of finish. Receiving 7 of the 9 first-place votes and being picked as the # 1 team in the conference were your very own LSUS Pilots. If the prediction of the coaches holds true, the Pilots will be crowned as the conference champions for the third consecutive year. The Pilots are set to begin their quest for another conference title on January 4, 2007, against the Spring Hill Badgers. Non-conference competition begins on November 3 for the Pilots in Dallas, Texas, against Paul Quinn College. The Pilots will be in action at “the Dock” for the first time on November 7, 2006, against Wiley College.
Street & Smith’s magazine picks LSUS #2 nationally; Porter 1st team All-American and Byrd honorable mention – The buzz is back in the air around the LSUS campus and people are gearing up for another great basketball season. LSUS fans have come to expect excellence from the men’s basketball program as a result of their considerable success over the past three years, which includes two conference championships and two consecutive appearances in the NAIA Division I National Tournament. If Street and Smith’s Basketball Yearbook is even close with their predictions of the top ten teams in the country for 2006-2007, Pilots’ fans will not be disappointed as the team has been selected as the pre-season #2 team in the country in NAIA Division I. Head Coach Chad McDowell is excited about the upcoming season and feels that the Pilots have a great chance to win their third consecutive conference championship. “We have some really talented players once again. The key or central focus of our team remains the same as every year in that we must play great team basketball on both ends of the floor and try to win one game at a time.” The Pilots ranking has much to do with the return of Josh Porter and the addition of Kyile Byrd. Both of these players were recognized by Street and Smith’s when the Yearbook hit the newsstands in early October. Porter was selected as one of five NAIA preseason All-Americans and Byrd was cited with Honorable Mention. “It feels good to be recognized by Street and Smith’s magazine and to be considered one of the best players in the country, but this is a team game and many great players are forgotten because their team didn’t win games. We have to do this thing together as a team and everything else will take care of itself,” commented Josh Porter, returning shooting guard and a third team NAIA All-American selection following the 2005–2006 season.
Pilot’s basketball team spends an afternoon at Midway Elementary School – The LSUS men’s basketball team and coaching staff paid a visit to Midway Elementary Professional Development School in Shreveport this past Friday. The Pilots were invited to spend time with the young boys and girls and to talk to them about the importance of staying in school and making good decisions. The Pilots started the afternoon by entertaining the kids with high-flying dunks and long-range three-pointers and some great ball-handling moves. Coach McDowell got in the action by spinning the basketball on his finger and passing the basketball on to kids in the stands. “It was neat to hear these kids say they couldn’t spin a basketball on their finger and then they realized with a little effort and some help, they could. It was just a great opportunity to tell them to never say ‘I can’t’ or ‘I’m not good enough’, commented Coach McDowell. McDowell proceeded to talk with the entire group about the importance of maintaining a positive attitude in life. Soon the students had heard enough and were ready to see the Pilots in action once again. The team was split into two groups and moved on to a shooting competition against each other. The Pilots got the crowd involved by having them count (or scream) the number of shots each team made and cheering them on to victory. It was then time to have several students come out of the bleachers to play basketball with the Pilots. The Pilots concluded the pep rally by throwing some miniature basketballs into the stands for many of the students to keep. As the students were being dismissed, many of them approached their favorite Pilots players to get their autographs. “This was a great time. I don’t want them to leave and I hope we have the opportunity to come back,” commented Josh Porter, the unanimous crowd favorite, as the kids were leaving the gym.
McDowell visits KTAL’s coaches corner – Head men’s basketball coach Chad McDowell was a guest on KTAL’s Coach’s Corner where he was able to talk briefly about the upcoming season. McDowell mentioned the great returning players along with the new additions and said that this year should be another exciting one. “We will be different in many ways, but similar in others. I just hope we have similar results to the past three teams in that we win a lot more games than we lose. We will once again be an exciting basketball team to watch and will play with incredible intensity all night long.” Dave Schwartz and Dave Owens are the host of KTAL’s Coach’s Corner and big fans of the Pilots as well.