Pilots ready for new season
September 12, 2013
SHREVEPORT, La. - The LSU Shreveport Pilots men's basketball team will begin the 2013-14 season on the road in the Small College Tip Off Classic in Humble, Texas, on November 1 against St. Gregory's University.
The Pilots return three starters, including NAIA All-American Brandon Davis, off of last year's team that reached the NAIA Fab Four and finished with a No. 4 national ranking. Led by second year head coach Kyle Blankenship, LSUS will enter the season as one of the top teams in the nation and a favorite to win the Red River Athletic Conference. Blankenship guided the Pilots in unchartered postseason waters last season, and they will be seeking their 10th straight appearance in the NAIA National Tournament this year. The high-scoring Pilots led the nation in points per game last season and return three of their top four scorers. With the addition of several impact recruits, including NCAA Division 1 transfers Will Nelson (Texas A&M Corpus-Christi), Tony Freeland (Long Beach State University) and Dundrecous Nelson (Jackson State University), LSUS looks every bit of the part of a National Championship contender.
NEW CONFERENCE SCHEDULE
A new look to this year's conference schedule will consists of games being played mainly on Friday and Saturday with an occasional Monday or Tuesday in the mix. The Presidents/Chancellors of the RRAC Institutions voted this to be during their off-season meetings to allow for the student-athletes to attend more classes and cut each schools travel cost for road games.
All RRAC regular season games for the Pilots will begin at 7:30 this year as opposed to last year's option of playing early games on Saturday.
NEW RRAC TOURNAMENT FORMAT
With the departure of SAGU and the host of past RRAC Tournaments, the conference will adopt a new post season tournament format. The top six teams in the regular season will advance to this year's post season RRAC Tournament as opposed to eight teams in the past.
The no. 1 and 2 seeds will receive a bye in the first round while no. 3 host no. 6 and no. 4 hosts no. 5. The winners of the first round and seeds 1 and 2 will all meet at one site (TBA) for the semi-finals and finals to determine the champion.
RRAC SEES TEAMS DEPART
The Red River Athletic Conference will be missing three teams from last year's schedule. Texas Wesleyan University, Southwestern Assemblies of God University and Northwood University all have moved to the Sooner Athletic Conference to begin play this season leaving the RRAC with 11 members: Bacone, Huston-Tillotson, Jarvis Christian, Langston, LSU Shreveport, Our Lady of the Lake, Paul Quinn, Southwest, St. Thomas-Houston, Texas College and Wiley College.
The Pilots will still play two of the three departed schools in Texas Wesleyan (Nov. 29) and SAGU on Nov. 11 in the Pilots first true road game.
LSUS PILOTS' SCHEDULE
The Pilots will embark on yet another tough schedule to begin the season with the Small College Tip Off Classic with St. Gregory's at The Gym in Humble, Texas, and then make a quick dash to Shreveport to take on the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma at 7 p.m.
Their first game as the road-team will come on Nov. 11 at SAGU in Waxahachie, the former RRAC conference foe. The Pilots will battle their cross-town rival, the Centenary Gents, at Centenary's Gold Dome at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 19 before hosting SAGU at The Dock on the 25th at 7 p.m. LSUS will wrap up the month of November with the Texas Wesleyan Classic on Nov. 29-30, as they face Texas Wesleyan University (Nov. 29 at 8 p.m.) and Oklahoma Baptist University on the 30th at 4 p.m. in Fort Worth, Texas.
The month of December will begin with a long trip out west to take on University of the Southwest in Hobbs, N. M., on Dec. 7 and St. Thomas at The Dock on Dec. 13. Paul Quinn College will come to The Dock on Dec. 14 at 7:30 in a game that has a lot of hype based on last year's high scoring affair that saw the Tigers prevail 122-120 in regulation. The Pilots battled back though and handily won the next meeting at The Dock 95-63.
The remainder of the Pilot's regular season schedule will feature all RRAC members to consist of 17 final games with eight at The Dock and nine on the road.
Notes: The Pilots enter the 2013-14 season with a current nine-game home winning streak...Coach Blankenship is 27-7 at LSUS...The Pilots have had 20 or more wins in every season since the reinstatement in 2003...LSUS has qualified for the NAIA National Tournament in nine straight seasons...This will be LSUS' 4th season in the Red River Athletic Conference.