Coach Danny Kaspar will encounter his former team, Stephen F. Austin, for the Bobcats’ home opener at Strahan Coliseum Tuesday.
In 13 years of coaching the men’s basketball program, Kaspar led the Lumberjacks to 246 total victories. He helped SFA lead the nation twice in defensive scoring, in 2011 and 2012.
“I would not have scheduled this game had I known I would be working here,” Kaspar said. “It’s very tough playing your old team. I love those kids over there. Except for the conference championship loss, it was a dream season. These are very cerebral, hardworking, tough young men. We have to come play.”
Kaspar is currently ranked 16th in the country with a total win percentage of .706 and 26th overall in total wins. Kaspar and the Bobcats will face seven former players from the SFA team.
“I can tell them this guy (on the other team) wants to do this, and he wants to do that,” Kaspar said. “I don’t know how much these guys take that information and use it. I can give them that information, but I can’t go out there and guard those kids.”
Among those SFA players are Jacob Parker, Nikola Gajic and Desmond Haymon. Haymon scored 17 points against UT–Tyler, Parker contributed 19, and Gajic added 14. SFA recorded 24 turnovers and controlled the paint outscoring UT-Tyler 32–18. The post presence provided 16 more points in second-chance opportunities. Haymon was the Lumberjack’s third leading scorer last year, averaging 10.6 points per contest. Gajic’s 14 points marks his first-career double-figure point performance for the Lumberjacks.
Against Houston last Friday, Texas State was led by sophomore forward Emani Gant in his first career Division 1 game. Gant converted 9-11 field goals from the floor, scoring a team-high 19 points. He led the team in assists with four and steals with three, while compiling four rebounds.
“Offensively, I feel comfortable in this system,” Gant said. “It’s because my teammates are there for me. They do a good job throwing into me, and I feel comfortable throwing it back out knowing they’ll make the right decision. I just pride myself on being strong in the paint.”
The Bobcats went on a 15–5 run against Houston to make it a one-possession game with 2:07 remaining on the clock, after being down 67-55 with 10 minutes left in the second half. After allowing 46 points in the first half, Texas State limited the Houston offense to 30 points in the second.
Houston was up 73-70 and with 22 seconds left in the game when guard Danuel House made a three-pointer to seal the Cougars’ victory. House ended with 24 points and eight rebounds, giving the Cougars a six-point lead before the shot clock expired.
Last year’s leading scorer for the Bobcats senior forward Joel Wright accounted for 18 points and eight rebounds during the matchup against Houston. Senior guard Phil Hawkins finished with 10 points.
“It was a very difficult transition,” Hawkins said. “As everyone’s adjusting it’s just something that you get used to. You go from doing whatever you want to having order and structure. It’s all about being focused and paying attention to detail.”
Gant and Wright combined for 37 points and 12 rebounds against Houston, this marked the first time two players tallied 18-plus points in a single game since Feb. 23 against Lamar. All 10 Bobcats recorded at least one rebound in their playing time.