Hoops season tips off to threat of snow
SAGU is ranked #5 in NAIA Coaches Poll
Lions play host to Dallas Christian on Tuesday night
LiveStats link: http://www.dakstats.com/WebSync/Pages/Webcasts.aspx?association=10
Top 25 Coaches Poll: http://www.naia.org/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=27900&ATCLID=209294460
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Seven months after a meteoric rise to the NAIA national championship game, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University men’s basketball team returns to the court.
Tuesday night at 8:00pm they will meet Dallas Christian College (0-1) in the Sheaffer Center.
Billed as the Texas Snowstorm, an expected full house will set off an avalanche of snow balls the moment the Lions make their first basket of the 2013-2014 season.
A new tradition on campus, a record number of ping pong balls, ah, er, snowballs, will sail high in a gust of spirited fanfare. This 'weather phenomenon' is set to hit with gale-force strength in the early moments of the game.
The Lions, 33-5 a year ago and ranked No. 5 in the preseason Coaches Poll, will present a new-look to fans on Tuesday.
Gone are the home white uniforms. Say hello to all-gold threads, complete with purple and white trim.
SAGU will also take the court with a nouveau line-up. It is due, in-part, to several players being unavailable at the start of the season.
Fans, who can follow the digital play-by-play account of the game on LiveStats (see link above), will notice a schedule chocked full of new opponents as well. The Lions begin their first season in the Sooner Athletic Conference.
Three other teams in the league begin the season among the nationally ranked. Seven SAC members posted winning records last winter.
Add the Lions and Texas Wesleyan University (20-12), and the Sooner remains one of, if not the premier league in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
Home court advantage is a must for contending ball clubs, something SAGU will rely on this season. The team went 14-2 in the friendly confines of the Sheaffer Center last year.
Head Coach Donnie Bostwick’s Lions launch defense of their first-ever conference championship with a shorter bench in the opening weeks due to players violating team rules.
Tuesday’s probable starting line-up consists of one senior, one junior, one sophomore and a pair of freshmen.
Caleb Gentry (Hondo, Tx / Hondo HS, Ok Wesleyan Univ), the senior whose strong play was often the engine for last year’s team, starts at guard.
Averaging ten points per game, “Hondo” led the team in free throw percentage (78%) and was second in three-point baskets (49).
Most observers point to his defense and hustle for loose balls. Those elements are critical to the synergy that makes the Lions a force in close games.
His reverse layup in the championship game in March appeared at #4 on ESPN’s Plays of the Night.
Sophomore transfer guard Drew Erskine (Houston, Tx / Victoria West HS, Centenary College), like Gentry – a six-footer, is a skilled ballhandler with excellent court vision.
Erskine accounted for 4.5 ppg at NCAA D3 Centenary College (Shreveport, La). He connected on 45% from the field, 43% from long distance, 73% of his free throws while starting seven times.
Returning after a year at Ranger College is 6’5 shooting guard Caleb Feemster (Addison, Tx / Trinity Chr-Addison, Ranger College).
He averaged over five points per game during the 2011-12 season. Playing in just 13 minutes per game, he drained 29 triples, shot 72% from the line and was fifth in offensive rebounds.
Feemster’s strengths include a pure shot from the perimeter and his abilities in transition.
The two forwards are real Tigers.
Daniel Mills (Belton, Tx / Belton HS), an athletic 6’5 with the skills of a ‘3,’ and Remington “Big Rem” Mitchell (Mansfield, Tx / Mansfield HS), a 6-foot-8 board hoarder. Both are freshmen.
Mills scored 22 ppg, reeled in eight rebounds and knocked down 60 triples while donning the red and white for the Class 5A Belton Tigers.
Mitchell netted 10 ppg, eight boards and rejected 80 shots as a senior for Mansfield HS’ black and gold Tigers.
This group played very well together over Homecoming when they routed the SAGU Alumni All-Stars. But they will have their hands full on Tuesday.
A detailed review of the game will posted on-line after the game.
SAGU defeated Dallas Christian, 81-67, in last year’s home opener. Eleven players scored against the Crusaders, who won eight of their last ten games.
Under Head Coach Charles Williams, they won their second Association of Christian College Athletics (ACCA) national championship, topping Rhema Bible College (Ok), 83-74, last March in Joplin, Mo.