Coach Bostwick on Lions' ranking
SAGU picked to finish 3rd in RRAC
Lions appear at #26 in NAIA poll
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The recent news that Southwestern Assemblies of God University’s men’s basketball team was picked to finish third in the Red River Athletic Conference was taken in stride by an appreciative head coach Donnie Bostwick.
“Preseason polls are primarily based on last year's results,” Bostwick said. “The only poll that matters is the last poll of season when it comes to the NAIA.”
“So, I say congrats once more to last year’s team for the 27-win season.”
The 27-11 won-lost record not only equaled the school record for most victories in a season, but was the nation’s largest turnaround in one year. The 2010-11 team finished 12-21.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) just released their annual Pre-Season Coaches Poll. The Lions were ranked #26 in the nation.
There are other factors that influence the coaches who vote. Bostwick said that coaches often take into consideration a team’s returning veterans and the program’s winning tradition.
“It is nice to have been given some respect in those two areas, but the truth be known, it is a poll strictly for the fans,” he added.
After a season that saw the Lions knock off several ranked teams, it was no wonder the team played before large home crowds. The fans loved SAGU’s all-out effort on the floor.
Plus, the team was #3 in the nation in making three-point baskets (9.8 per game). While the team’s shooting percentage was a modest 42% (91st in the NAIA), they were #2 in grabbing rebounds, especially on the offensive end.
That work ethic, crashing the boards and diving for loose balls, translated into extra possessions and second-chance baskets.
A vocal home fan base took note. They often go “all out” in color, cheers and creative costumes.
Coach Bostwick’s “Jungle” section, in which fans stand throughout live-action and who are, in his words, “loud and proud,” may spill over into more than one section this season. They are encouraged to come early and bring meaning to the term “home court advantage.”
SAGU’s scoring offense was rated #17 as well. They scored over 90 points nine times, four times eclipsing the century mark.
Two huge influences on the team’s success was their improvement in taking better care of the basketball. They were 12th best in turnover margin, forcing opponents into more mistakes than the up-tempo Lions.
Also, the team reduced the number of points they allowed from 86.6 the previous year to 71.9 last season. The 2010-11 team's yield in points ranked #120 in the country. Only two teams had more porous defenses.
The upgrade in defense stood out like a salesman in a white suit.
Bostwick assesses the field in the RRAC
As for the competition in the RRAC, the Oklahoma native was full of praise.
The pre-season team to beat is the defending champion from San Antonio, Our Lady of the Lake University.
“It is sort of a curtain call for Lady of the Lake,” Bostwick pointed out, “for winning the Red River, plus they return so much talent, experience and toughness.”
“They are hungry to return to the NAIA Tournament. They’re hoping to go deeper (in the tourney) this year.”
“Removing them from the throne as Conference Champions will be an impressive accomplishment if someone can pull it off,” he surmised.
The former player and assistant coach at John Brown University (Ark) noted that both Texas Wesleyan University and LSU-Shreveport made head coaching changes. But he added, "The talent will be there as usual. We have to hope their key (player) losses will be hard to replace.”
“Both of those programs signed big name transfers so I expect them to be in the hunt.”
“Wiley College beat us at home last year and is led by the best big man (Kenny LaGuerre) in the league. Coach (Andre) Payne is a great coach and motivator. They will be really good again.”
The University of St. Thomas tied the Lions for fourth in the RRAC in their first year as members in the league.
“St. Thomas is ready to take a step forward,” Bostwick admitted. “They will be really solid this year.”
Texas College was chosen to finish in 7th place, where they ended the season last March. Normally a contender, that was their lowest in four years.
“Texas College is next (in the poll),” Bostwick said, “but I think any one of the remaining programs have the talent to be Cinderella. They will show up big time when the lights are on.”
“It should be a fun year with great parity and great competition. I believe the Red River will be a Top 4 NAIA conference this season.”
As for his Lions, “We have our sights set on Kansas City (the site of the NAIA 32-team, 7-day tournament) and glorifying God with our play,” he quipped.
“We look forward to playing our final season in this conference. We know it will be a major challenge.”
Home opener Tuesday, Nov. 6
SAGU opens their season at home on Tuesday, November 6. Dallas Christian College will visit the Sheaffer Center for a 7:00pm (CST) clash.
The Lions’ first basket will set off a “Texas Snowstorm.”
SAGU returns four starters, though one will not be on the court until after the fall semester ends. A complete preview of the team and the season will be posted on-line on Monday, Nov. 5.