Lions' ranking at the midway mark
SAGU seeks heightened second half surge
Circling four key home dates
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The Southwestern Assemblies of God University men’s basketball team has vacillated from #27 to #37 in the NAIA Top 25 Coaches Poll over the past month. They want to rise higher.
This week’s poll of select coaches in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics again has them in the group of teams who are receiving votes, but not enough to make the Top 25. (Complete results posted below
However, after garnering as many as 50 votes in one week, that number dropped to one when Chad Waller, the NAIA’s Director of Communications and Sports Information released the latest results on Monday from their headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri. A loss at St. Thomas two days ago could knock them out for a week.
The Lions vaulted to a best-ever 9-0 start under new Head Coach Donnie Bostwick, but have gone 4-5 since. The teams who have defeated them are all above them in the Red River Athletic Conference standings. While they are rolling over teams in the middle and lower positions in the league, they have come up just short against upper echelon teams.
Only one team among their wins is currently ranked nationally, the University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma (12-6), from the Sooner Athletic Conference. SAGU beat them in Oklahoma. The Sooner is regarded as tougher than the RRAC.
The Lions just completed the first round of games against the other twelve members in the Red River and are in sixth place with a 7-5 won-lost mark at the midway point in the schedule.
Calling out SAGU fans
Four of their five losses have come on the road, meaning they now get to face those teams in the friendly confines of the Sheaffer Center over the next five weeks. The RRAC plays a 24-game conference regular season.
Those four big home dates are;
Feb. 9 (Thurs) vs Texas Wesleyan (15-3, 10-2 RRAC)
Feb. 11 (Sat) vs Our Lady of the Lake (16-3, 13-0 RRAC)
Feb. 18 (Sat) vs LSU-Shreveport (11-6, 9-3 RRAC)
Feb. 27 (Mon) vs St. Thomas (11-7, 9-3 RRAC)
Their other loss, 70-68 against Wiley College (11-5, 7-4 RRAC), was their only setback at home. The rematch is set for February 25 in Marshall, Texas.
“We will really need our fans when those teams come to town,” Coach Bostwick said. “Having a loud, packed-house will be to our advantage.”
Of course, the Lions have to do well in all of their remaining 12 games in order to move up in the standings and prepare themselves for the RRAC tournament the first weekend in March. The top two teams in the tourney receive a bid to the NAIA’s national 32-team tournament.
If the regular season were to end today, SAGU would face 3rd place LSU-Shreveport in the tournament quarterfinals. The Pilots topped the Lions, 83-69, on Jan. 16.
Mid-Season Report Card
For Southwestern to elevate their game to reach their goals, they have to tighten their defense, improve their free throw shooting, and click on all cylinders offensively. That means; tightening up their man-to-man defense, making the money shots from the charity stripe, and having more balanced in player scoring.
“We’re close to being there,” Bostwick says, “and we have to work get there. I really like our chances. One thing for sure, these guys are not lacking desire or hustle.”
Proving Ground: Next 4 Games
To ready themselves against the RRAC’s elite, they must prove their mettle in the next two weeks against four teams who are currently below .500 in the conference. The first two will be played at home.
Jan. 26 HOME (Thur) vs Bacone College (3-14, 2-10 RRAC)
Jan. 30 HOME (Mon) vs Huston-Tillotson University (0-18, 0-14 RRAC)
Feb. 4 AWAY (Sat) vs University of the Southwest (8-9, 5-8 RRAC)
Feb. 6 AWAY (Mon) vs Paul Quinn College (4-13, 3-9 RRAC)
Should the Lions get through that stretch of games (they would have a 17-5 record), they would be positioned to run the gauntlet against the ‘big dogs’ in the conference in the final three weeks.
By the time the RRAC tourney tips off, the Lions plan to be among that group of canines themselves.
NAIA Current Coaches Poll
Rank, Team, Overall Record, Votes
1 Shorter College (Ga) (12*) 18-0 312
2 Robert Morris (Ill) 19-1, 302
3 Oklahoma Baptist 16-2, 288
4 Georgetown (Ky) 17-3, 279
5 Southern Poly (Ga) 15-3, 273
6 Rogers State (Okla) 16-3, 257
7 Our Lady of the Lake Univ (Texas) 15-3, 248
8 Lindsey Wilson (Ky) 15-4, 240
9 Martin Methodist (Tenn) 15-4, 237
10 The Master's (Calif) 14-5, 229
11 Texas Wesleyan Univ 14-3, 194
12 Westmont (Calif) 14-3, 192
13 Montana State-Northern 18-3, 191
14 Southern Nazarene (Okla) 15-4, 190
15 Mountain State (WVa) 14-6, 187
16 Azusa Pacific (Calif) 15-4, 162
17 Lee Univ (Tenn) 13-4, 141
18 Concordia (Calif) 15-4, 133
19 Xavier (La) 14-5, 130
20 Montana Western 16-5, 114
21 Columbia College (Mo) 16-5, 94
22 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan) 14-7, 84
23 Pikeville (Ky) 12-7, 76
24 Tougaloo College (Miss) 15-5, 71
25 Union Univ (Tenn) 13-7, 64
*Shorter College garnered all 12 first place votes, evidenced by that number in parenthesis.
Receiving Votes: 26) Saint Xavier (Ill.) 63; 27) John Brown (Ark.) 50; 28) Evangel (Mo.) 43; 29) Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) 29; 30) Science & Arts (Okla.) 28; 31) Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.) 21; 32) Cal State San Marcos 14; 33)Westminster (Utah) 10; 34) St. Catharine (Ky.) 8; 35) Avila (Mo.) 3; 36) LSU Shreveport (La.) 3; 37) SAGU (Texas) 1; Oklahoma Christian 1; Cumberland (Tenn.) 1; Voorhees (S.C.) 1.