After claiming a closer than expected victory in the season opener, the Texas Longhorns are in action again tonight, taking on the 1-0 Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. The game gets started shortly after 7 p.m. CT, and airs on the Longhorn Network.
Coach Keith Richard’s squad lost a number of key seniors off of last year’s team, which won 20 games and finished in second place in the Sun Belt Conference. To fill these open slots, Richard brought in a number junior college transfers, including 5’11 guard Jordon Harris, who hit 5-7 threes and scored 23 points in the Warhawks’ opener.
Harris is from Texas, but most of the other newcomers are Australian. Kiir Deng spent last season at Copiah Lincoln CC, but is originally from Adelaide, Australia. Deng did not play in the season opener. 6’6 Wing Sam McDaniel, another JuCo transfer, did appear in the first game of the season, and is originally from Morphettvale, Australia. And 6’11 freshman center Sam Alabakis, who spent last year at a prep school in Florida, is originally from Perth.
Marvin Jean-Pierre, a transfer from Miami-Dade College who came off the bench to score 13 points in 17 minutes Friday night, is not Australian.
Richard’s best returning player is 5’11 senior point guard Nick Coppola. Coppola is a career 36 percent three-point shooter, but struggles to finish around the basket. Also returning are 6’6 sophomore forward Travis Munnings and 6’2 guard Marcus Washington. Munnings, originally from the Bahamas, is a versatile inside-outside player who can step outside and knock down threes, can score around the hoop, and is active on the glass.
It is a little hard to know what to make of Louisiana-Monroe — it tends to be hard to project a team where so many of the key players are transfers from junior college. And it is hard to take much from the Warhawks’ season opening victory against D-III Centenary College. So we will just have to take things as they come.
Shaka Smart will have a roster that is closer to full strength, with Kerwin Roach and Tevin Mack both expected to return after serving their suspension for an offseason violation of team rules. This will give the Longhorns nine scholarship players, and hopefully prevent some of the fatigue that led to problems for Texas during the season opener.