'Jacks Picked Down in SLC Preseason Poll
Oct. 10, 2001
TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO EXPECTED TO BE SOUTHLAND TEAM TO BEAT IN MEN'S HOOPS
PLANO, Texas - For the second year in a row, the University of Texas at San Antonio has been picked by the Southland Conference head coaches and sports information directors to win the men's basketball regular-season championship.
Last year's Roadrunners started 3-0 in Southland play and appeared as if they were going to make the preseason prognosticators look knowledgeable. The third win was a 70-66 victory at McNeese State, the team that eventually won the league title. It wasn't so much how UTSA performed after the 3-0 start that decided the outcome of the league race, but how McNeese performed after the loss to the Roadrunners.That defeat dropped the Cowboys to 0-3 in Southland play.They then proceeded to win their final 17 conference contests to win the regular-season by five games. UTSA finished in a second-place tie with Nicholls State.
This year, UTSA head coach Tim Carter has two-time All-Southland performer Devin Brown to build his team around. A former Southland Freshman of the Year (1999), Brown enters his senior season as the top returning scorer in the Conference with a 19.9 average. He also ranked fifth in rebounding at 7.6 a contest.
Senior McEverett Powers, a forward, also returns for his fourth season of play with the Roadrunners. The preseason second-team All-Southland selection averaged 10.0 points and 6.7 rebounds as a junior.
Brown and Powers have assisted in making Texas-San Antonio the winningest program in the Southland over the past four years. During their three years of play, UTSA has won 47 games. Furthermore, over the past four years, Roadrunner teams have combined to win 63 games, two more than any other Southland club.
The University of Louisiana-Monroe has been picked to finish second in both polls, receiving four first-place votes from the league's 11 head coaches. The Indians, 11-17 and the eighth-place team in 2001, are just two points shy of UTSA in the coaches' voting.
Head coach Mike Vining, the Southland's all-time winningest coach with 331 wins (does not include 19 wins during his first season of 1981-82, the year before ULM joined the Southland), has two preseason first-team All-Southland selections to build his team around. Seniors Brian Lubeck and Wojciech Myrda hope to help ULM win its first title since a tri-championship in 1997.
Northwestern State University, the Southland's 2001 representative in the NCAA Tournament, has been picked third in each poll. The Demons, who, after winning last year's Southland postseason tournament, went on to defeat Winthrop in an NCAA opening-round game, are looking for their first-ever Southland title.
The University of Texas at Arlington is picked just ahead of defending regular-season title winner McNeese State, which received one first-place vote.