Oct. 31, 2013
BEAUMONT, Texas -
With the start of the 2013-14 basketball season just days away, focus in the media switched from the gridiron to the hardwood Wednesday morning for the annual Southland Conference basketball coaches media teleconference. The two-day event, which has Lamar coaches slated for Thursday morning, signifies the beginning of a new season each year.
Lamar is set to tipoff off the new season Saturday, Nov. 9 against Butler in Indianapolis, Ind. Cardinal fans will have an opportunity to grab their first look at the LU men Friday when they host McMurry in their lone exhibition before the start to the regular season. The game against the Warhawks is slated to begin at 7 p.m. from the Montagne Center.
Coming off a 3-28 season a year ago, the Cardinals enter the upcoming season flying under the radar. LU has been picked to finish 10th in the conference according to the preseason polls of league head coaches and sports information directors released Wednesday morning. Lamar head coach Pat Knight, and his youthful team, enter the season eager to erase the bitter memory of last season.
"To me the most important thing is to get that bad taste out of our mouth from last year," said Knight. "I'm so tired of talking about last year. It was terrible. No one is more upset about last year than I am. If it was up to me I would be starting the regular season this Friday."
Knight opens the new season with three of five starters back from last year, but seven new players, including the five junior college transfers. Knight's youthful squad will be tested by fire early and often as the Cardinals will play road games on both coasts, in all four time zones and will play games against four teams that advanced to the NCAA Championships last season.
"At a school at our level, you want you pre-conference schedule to be tougher than your conference schedule," said Knight. "To me that is a great thing. It gets our guys ready to play because our conference is a beast. Whoever has a tougher pre-conference is more prepared for the conference season, and for us the conference season is what counts."
The Cardinals return two of their top four scores from last season, as well as their second and third leading rebounders, but after that it becomes a very young team. The Cardinals youth does not come from age but from lack of experience at the NCAA Division I level. With only one senior on the squad, Amos Wilson, Lamar will be relying on the newcomers to pick up quite a bit of the slack.
"These guys have gotten better from day one, but we still have a long way to go," said Knight. "We've got the talent, and we are deep this year, but we have to continue to work on these guys doing what we want done. I like where we're at right now but we still have a long way to go."
Knight's seven newcomers bring with them quite a bit of success. The incoming class adds immediate help at both ends of the floor. Four of the five transfers averaged double-figure scoring during their juco careers, while Gainesville, Fla. Native, Octavius Green, was the nation's second-leading rebounder averaging 13 rebounds per contest. Tyran de Lattibeaudiere comes to Beaumont from one of the top junior college programs in the country. One of the country's leading shot blockers, de Lattibeaudiere, guided Vincennes University to the NJCAA Final Four, while averaging 5.0 blocks per game during his sophomore season.
The Cardinals have tabbed George Mason for the home opener. The game against GMU tips off at 7 p.m. from the Montagne Center. Tickets for the game against George Mason, and any Lamar basketball game can be purchased at the LU Ticket Office by clicking here.