'Jacks Picked To Finish Fifth in Coaches' Preseason Poll
Oct. 30, 2002
McNeese State University received more first-place votes, but Sam Houston State University edged the Cowboys as the men's basketball team to beat in 2002-03, according to the head coaches of the 11 Southland Conference universities.
In a poll of sports information directors, McNeese State received seven first-place votes to the Bearkats' two, and is picked to win its third consecutive regular-season title.
Lamar University received two first-place nods in each poll and is picked third in both.
SHSU is looking to return to the championship form it showed in 2000 when the Bearkats won the league by two games. Head coach Bob Marlin's club collected 89 points in the coaches' poll with McNeese receiving 87. SHSU finished tied for seventh last season with a 9-11 Southland record and was 14-14 overall. The Bearkats failed to qualify for postseason play.
McNeese, which has posted identical 17-3 Conference records the past two seasons, won the 2001 title by five games before losing in the Southland Conference Tournament. Last year, the Cowboys were two games better than second-place University of Louisiana-Monroe and downed the Indians in the championship game of the Conference tournament to advance to the NCAAs.
The Lamar Cardinals, who lead all teams with three players on the preseason first- and second-team All-Southland Conference squads, finished fourth last year. It was their best regular-season showing since rejoining the Southland for the 1998-99 season. LU leads all Southland teams with eight Conference championships, those coming during the university?s initial time with the Southland from 1964-87.
Placing fourth in both polls is the University of Texas-San Antonio. The Roadrunners look to two transfers attempting to help them over the hump. UTSA has finished second or third in each of the last five seasons.
Justin Harbert, a 6-2 guard, and Leroy Hurd, a 6-7 forward, embark on their first seasons at UTSA, transferring from Colorado and Miami, respectively. The duo is asked to replace McEverett Powers, last year's Southland Conference player of the year, and Devin Brown from last year's 19-10 club. Powers and Brown were the Conference's top two scorers a year ago.
Landing fifth in the coaches' poll are Southwest Texas State University and Stephen F. Austin State University. They tied with 56 points.
ULM is seventh (52) and the University of Texas-Arlington eighth (46). Tied for ninth with 31 points are Northwestern State University and Southeastern Louisiana University.
Nicholls State University, under first-year head coach Ricky Blanton, rounds out both polls.