Texas State basketball has had a rough time over the last 30 years. Since the 1985-86 season, the Bobcats have only finished the year with a 50 percent or better winning percentage in eight seasons. 30 years of mostly losing basketball isn't very much fun.
But this off-season, Texas State decided to make a change. It hired Danny Kaspar, a Texas coaching veteran who's daughter is a Texas State student. At Kaspar's last stop his work with the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks was remarkable. He took over a mostly dismal program, and in his 13 seasons in Nacogdoches transformed the Lumberjacks into winners. Kaspar won 63 percent of his games with SFA. Prior to that, he built Incarnate Word into an NAIA power.
The source of Kaspar's success has been getting his teams to play great defense. Below is a list of the top 10 defenses in Division I last season as determined by the kenpom.com ratings. Stephen F. Austin is on that list, along with a lot of other schools who receive a fair bit more attention.
- St. Louis
- Michigan St.
- Stephen F. Austin
Kaspar has explained his success on defense this way:
"Man-to-man pressure," Kaspar said. "Pick them up at half court. If we find teams that can’t handle pressure, we might pressure in their backcourt. We don’t play a lot of half court zone. Make them catch it out of their comfort zone. We don’t want them catching the basketball at the same spots that they do it in practice … Limit them to one shot per possession. Put pressure on the ball. Pressure on the passing lanes."
The problem for coach Kaspar is that turning around a bad program -- and to be clear, Texas State is not a good team -- takes time. It will take him a few years to recruit and develop his team. Thankfully for him, there are plenty of hard-nosed kids from Texas who can learn to play basketball the Kaspar way.
On the season, the Bobcats are 3-6. 6-7 Forward Joel Wright is the team's best player. He is good around the basket and is also a threat to step out and hit the occasional three. 6-8 freshman Emani Gant is a physical rebounder and a solid scorer inside. Wesley Davis, Kavin Gilder-Tilbury, and Phil Hawkins all have the potential to hit shots from the perimeter.
G- Phil Hawkins, 6-0
G- Wesley Davis, 6-3
F- Emani Gant, 6-8
F- Joel Wright, 6-7
F- Reid Koenen, 6-7
Texas State has not yet beaten a team ranked in Ken Pomeroy's top 300 this season. The Bobcats' three wins came against Tulane (#302), Northern Kentucky (#320), and Division II Cedarville.
Television: Longhorn Network
Tip: 7:00 CST Saturday