Coach Doug Davalos sat down with the Star to discuss how the off-season went for the Bobcat men’s basketball team and what Davalos’ goals are for the first season in the WAC, which tips off November 9.
SR: This year, Texas State is moving into the WAC. What’s the biggest adjustment, and what is the level of excitement at moving into a different conference?
DD: You can feel the excitement. We’ve been given a preview from football, volleyball and soccer. Now, our team is ready for the start and movement to the WAC. Any time you move into a new conference, there’s an unfamiliarity that goes with it. We are not familiar with the opponents we’re about to play, the venues, or the towns we’ll travel to. We’re going to have much longer trips. In the Southland, we were mostly a bus riding conference, but now we’re going to have mostly plane trips. It is an adjustment period.
SR: Matthew Staff lead Texas State in scoring and rebounding last year. What is his leadership and role for the team beyond the stat sheet?
DD: Matt was our leading scorer and rebounder, but we didn’t have a winning season. So you kind of put an asterisk by that. Our ultimate goal when we compete is to win. So, Matt was a productive player, but nobody feels good while not winning as a team. I believe Matt is ready to take the next step, not only as the most productive player, but also as a leader in our program. Sometimes your most productive players aren’t your leaders, but Matt has taken the right steps in the maturity standpoint from his junior to senior year.
SR: Apart from Staff, last year’s next top three players in PPG are no longer with the team. Who are you looking at to help fill these roles?
DD: Last year was such a good experience for guys like Vonn Jones, Wesley Davis and Reid Koenen. Prior to last year, they didn’t have any real gaming experience for us. Now those three guys are part-time starters for us. They know how the year played out and the things we didn’t do well in our losses, but also the things we did well in our wins. I’m excited for their opportunities and we have a lot of reason for optimism this year.
SR: With eight returning players from last year along with eight newcomers, what was the team chemistry during off-season and going into the WAC?
DD: The NCAA passed legislation that allowed all Division I men’s basketball programs to work with their players in the summer to have more access which allowed for two hours a week on the floor. This has never been done before in the past. All workouts were voluntary. It’s great because when you bring in a freshman or a new player, you can start integrating them into your system and teaching them habits. The NCAA also allows you to tour and go out of the country to play basketball, and we decided to go to Costa Rica this year. So when you talk about chemistry, all of this gives you chemistry, because the guys have been on the road together, stayed in hotels together, played games together along with more practices. It gives us a jump-start to a new environment in the WAC.