PILOTS PROPAGANDA WEEK 3: LSUS Survives Wild Week to Even Record at 3-3
November 26, 2008
To say that nothing has come easy for the LSUS Pilots through their first six games of the 2008-2009 season would be an understatement. After a wild week-three however, LSUS evened their overall record at 3-3 with a gut wrenching 83-77 overtime victory over Wiley College, and followed with a 78-77 victory over the NCAA Division III University of Texas-Tyler Patriots.
After jumping out to a 25-6 lead to begin Wednesday nights contest against the Wiley College Wildcats, the two teams found themselves squared up at 72-72 at the end of regulation. The Pilots connected on three of their season high 17-three point attempts in the overtime session to pickup a much-needed 83-77 road victory over the Wildcats.
The Pilots continued their current six game road swing at the Fred Jaocby/I-20 Tip-Off Classic Friday night in Dallas, TX with an exhibition contest against the University of Texas-Dallas Comets. LSUS trailed 60-45 with 8:29 remaining in the second half but mounted a 15-0 run to tie the contest at 60-60 at the 3:16 mark. The Pilots ended up dropping a 71-66 decision in what turned out to be a free-throw contest over the final three minutes.
The week ended with a contest against the Patriots in which the Pilots found themselves down 13-points just 7:00 into regulation. Freshman Derrick Parker and junior point guard Jared Stevenson however combined for 22 of the Pilots 40 first half points which had the Pilots ahead 40-34 at the break.
LSUS led by 10-points at the 7:30 mark, a lead that was relinquished by the Patriots with 0:46 remaining after a field goal by Hakeem Kareem put the Patriots ahead 77-76. The Pilots regained the lead after Stevenson capped off a career high 27-point performance by connecting on what proved to be a pair of game winning free throws with 0:31 remaining. The Patriots opted to hold for the last shot, which was missed by Anthony Reese with 0:02 on the clock and rebounded by Gabe Hall to secure the victory for the Pilots.
While the Pilots may not have picked up any style points among the NAIA raters throughout the country this week, they did take care of business and go 2-0 on the week to even their overall record at 3-3 on the year. What the Pilots did show me this week however is that they are a program that knows how to win.
After squandering a 19-point lead in front of a hostile Wiley College crowd, the Pilots, who had only six eligible players in overtime out scored and out hustled the Wildcats in the extra session to pull off a huge road victory for the Pilots program.
In Saturdays contest the Pilots came back from an early 13-point deficit only to let a 13-point advantage slip away in the final minutes of the second half. In the end however, it was the Pilots who connected on the always-important free throws down the stretch and made a big defensive stand to hold on for yet another huge road victory.
Through the first six games of the regular season, four decisions have been decided by three points or less, with a 5th being decided by six points in overtime which ended in favor of the Pilots. Other than a 68-50 loss at the hands of the Southern States Athletic Conference leader Faulkner University Falcons (6-1, 2-0), the remaining five decisions on the Pilots schedule thus far have been decided by a total of 13 points.
Some may think the start to the Pilots season may be a disappointment. While there is no doubt that the loss Jarvis Christian hurt, I think this could be just what the Pilots needed. If the Pilots escaped with victories against JC and Auburn University-Montgomery, two contests that the Pilots lost by a combined total of four points, they would be looking at a 5-1 record and be feeling pretty good about themselves.
However, at 3-3 overall and hovering near the basement of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference standings through non-conference contests to date, I would have to believe the only thing on the minds of the Pilots is the importance of Saturday nights upcoming contest against the 2006 National Champions in the Texas Wesleyan University Rams.
The Rams hold a preseason ranking of No. 18 and currently hold a 3-1 overall record with their lone loss coming against Oklahoma Christian University. Highlighting their year to date is a victory over the No. 7 ranked Oklahoma Baptist University. The Rams also dropped a 74-71 decision in an exhibition game against NCAA Division I University of Texas-Arlington.
This game is a HUGE test for the Pilots. The Rams are currently the No. 1 rebounding team in the country and rank in the top five in steals, assists, defensive field goal percentage, and three-point field goal percentage defense per game in the NAIA.
If the Rams are anything like the Terry Waldrop coached teams of the past, they will be long and athletic and will pressure the ball for 40:00. And if there has been a chink in the armor of the Pilots this year it has been on the boards. The Pilots average 37-rebounds per contest and will have to work for everyone they can get Saturday against the Rams who average 50.7-rebounds per contest.
With that being said, I am very excited about the performances by Chris Gatlin and Jared Stevenson this week. Gatlin collected a career high 23-points against Wiley College which included seven three-pointers and followed with a 14-point performance in which he was 6-of-7 from the field. Stevenson is also coming off a career best after finishing with 27-points in Saturday’s contest against the Patriots.
The increased output from Gatlin and Stevenson along with the steady play of Parker in the post may lift some of the offensive pressure which may be felt from Tyrone Hamilton who is currently 4th in scoring in the NAIA averaging 23.3 points per game. The scary thing is, aside from an opening night 44-point performance, Hamilton has struggled to find a rhythm from the floor as opposing defenses have held him to shooting just 33% from the floor.
But, like I stated in an earlier addition, it is going to take some time for this year’s squad to come together. The more games they get under their belt, the together they are going to be. The Pilots have been getting big games out of different players every night thus far, but they are going to need to put forth a combined effort this Saturday in order to collect a win that would be a huge resume booster throughout the duration of the season.
In the mean time, and in between time, that’s it for this week’s edition Pilots Propaganda.
Coach Al Cantwell
The views and material in this column reflect the attitude and opinions of Al Cantwell. The selection was written by Al Cantwell, an outside friend and fan of the LSUS Men’s Basketball Program and Athletics Department. Please direct any comments to Al Cantwell at the email address listed above.