Lumberjacks Open Official Practices On Friday
Oct. 12, 2012
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - A strong second half of the season managed to transform 2011-12 into another successful one for the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks, including the program's fourth 20-win campaign in the last five years. With three returning starters back from that squad, and a strong corps of talented newcomers, the ceiling could be even higher for SFA in 2012-13 as they ready for the start of official practices on Friday.
After finishing 20-12, the `Jacks have the second-highest winning percentage (62 percent) among Texas schools during over the last 12 years - Danny Kaspar's tenure - trailing only the University of Texas (72 percent) in that category.
One year after finishing the year as the top scoring defense in the nation, SFA followed that up with a lower defensive scoring average last season, allowing just 54.4 points per game, 2.3 points per game less than the year before. Newcomer Taylor Smith was a key cog in the SFA defensive effort, blocking more shots than any Lumberjack in the last five years, but also contributed offensively, leading the Southland with a field goal percentage of over 70 percent and pumping in over 10 points a game in league play.
Smith is back for his senior season after teaming with all-conference selection Jereal Scott last season to form arguably the best 1-2 punch in the post in the Southland. SFA will have to deal with the loss of Scott, but does return senior swing man Antoino Bostic who proved to be an iron man on the floor for the `Jacks, playing the third-most minutes of any player in the league and leading SFA in scoring in conference play on his way to earning first team all-Southland Conference recognition, the first postseason recognition for him of any kind in his basketball career.
SFA also returns emerging guard Desmond Haymon who led SFA in three-point buckets as a sophomore and brings a knack for scoring few others on the roster can boast. Senior Hal Bateman will likely assume the opening day duties at point guard, bringing quickness, athleticism and a flair for the dramatic as was evident by his buzzer-beating three-point bucket in the SLC opener at Texas State that proved to be the springboard for SFA's run to a 12-4 record in league play.
Forward Jacob Parker is also expected to make positive strides in his second season after a freshman season that saw him hobbled by a nagging foot injury throughout the year, while Joe Bright also returns on a healthier note after gutting through his junior year after knee surgery just weeks before the opening of the season.
The `Jacks have also brought in a group of nine newcomers, headlined by forward Ice Asortse, guard Jared Harrison and freshman point guard Trey Pinkney. Asortse will bring much-needed size to the floor while Harrison and Pinkney each bring depth to the point guard corps with Harrison being more of a scoring threat and Pinkney more of a typical point guard compared by Kaspar to former guard Eric Bell.
SFA will open up the season on Nov. 9 at home against Howard Payne, while it's scheduled to open up Southland Conference play on Dec. 29 at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.