At the first basketball media day this season, at basketball media day, Head Coach Danny Kaspar made a bold statement.
“I feel that we will have a winning season,” Kaspar said. “We will be in the tournament. I’m shooting for that top three or four, five teams in the league this year.”
Kaspar attempted to predict something that has not happened in Texas State men’s basketball history since the 2002-2003 season.
The Bobcats had a chance to make the “winning season” prediction come true.
After defeating the defending Sun Belt champion Georgia State 63-61 on the hands of Bobby Conley, a junior transfer guard from Palm Beach State. Conley drained a 3-pointer from the left wing to give the Bobcats the lead with three seconds left in regulation.
The win boosted Texas State to a .500, 15-15 record, but there was another game to be played.
In order to maintain Kaspar’s prediction and finish .500-plus, the Bobcats would have to win their next game against UT-Arlington.
Texas State lost, and the Bobcats dropped to 15-16 for the season (.484).
Thus, the streak of losing season has extended to 14 seasons for the Bobcats.
Moving forward, Texas State has the pieces in place to improve next season, despite losing seniors Emani Gant (forward), Ethan Montalvo (guard) and Cameron Naylor (forward).
Conley, Kavin Gilder-Tilbury (forward), Ojai Black (guard), and Anthony Roberson (guard) will all be entering their senior seasons. Having a senior-filled backcourt will be an advantage for the Bobcats.
Black stepped into the starting point guard role this season and Kaspar has spoken highly of Black’s ability.
Conley and Roberson teamed up with Black in the backcourt as solid defensive presences.
Replacing Gant and Naylor’s inside presence, as well as Montalvo’s 3-point sharpshooting, presents a concern for the Bobcats moving forward.
For years, Gant was the Bobcats’ most prolific scorer. He has led the Bobcats in points per game the past two seasons. Gant scored 12.7 points per game in the 2014-15 season, and 13.7 in 2015-16.
Adding Montalvo and Naylor to the list of recently departed, the Bobcats lose three of their four top scorers, combining for 33.7 points per game, which accounts for over half the team’s total.
For a team that struggled to score in the first place, ranking 10th out of 11 Sun Belt teams in scoring (66.0 ppg), replacing the scoring from the three seniors should to be the first priority for Texas State this offseason.
However, Texas State plays exceptional defense. The Bobcats rank second in the Sun Belt for opponent points per game (64.3), third in defensive rebounds per game (34.2), and fourth in turnover margin (+2.23).
The Bobcats return four of their top five blockers from this season, and three of their top five players in steals.
Some say defense wins championships. While true, offense wins games. The name of the game is to score more than your opponent, and if Texas State can’t score, they will have trouble winning games next fall and spring.
It all comes down to whether or not the senior class steps up, and the work starts now.