2008-09 Lamar Basketball Preview: #133
Overall Rank: #133
Conference Rank: #2 Southland
2007-08: 19-11, 13-3, 1st East
2007-08 postseason: none
Lamar was playing some great basketball in February, but unfortunately for fans of the Cardinals that did not last into March. Still, Coach Steve Roccaforte’s team ended up with a 13-3 conference record and a share of the Southland title. But for this year there is quite a bit of rebuilding to do from a team that many considered to overachieve. Ending up on the top of the standings this year will not be any easier than it was last year, but there is a solid foundation to build around.
The loss of Lamar Sanders is big. It was not just his 11.7 points or 7.0 rebounds or 1.3 blocks per game that made him a valuable asset to the team, but he was the leader on the floor. Without part-time starters Currye Todd, Darren Hopkins and Matthew Barrow, the team will need to find some more shooters to fill in on the perimeter.
And perimeter players are exactly what Lamar’s recruiting class has plenty of. Anthony Miles is a quick point guard who will push the ball in transition but remain under control. He will have a couple years before he is expected to step into the starting lineup, but getting some quality minutes from him off the bench as a freshman would be beneficial. Brandon Moton could be the shooter the team needs on the wing. The junior college transfer can consistently knock down the long ball and, at 6-5, can provide some much needed help on the glass. Charlie Harper excels in open court play and that makes him a good fit at Lamar. The 6-4 shooting guard has a nice mid-range game and will score from anywhere on the floor. Skyler Williams, another junior college transfer, does not have the size that Moton and Harper have, but he is a quick player and can be an explosive scorer. Shane Mahoney returns after missing last season with an injury and will add even more depth on the perimeter.
Who to Watch:
The recruiting class has yet to address the need for a big man. Forward Justin Nabors is expected to perform well during his senior campaign after averaging 11.2 points and 6.4 rebounds last season, but he needs some help. Tristan Worrell took over the starting job at the five spot by the end of last season, but he is not much of a scoring threat. Neither is Lawrence Nwevo. Coy Custer, a 6-10 sophomore, could be the answer, but he only made ten appearances last year. If Coy can develop into a decent big man off the bench, it would at least give the team some options. Jay Brown and Ashton Hall will probably fill in at the small forward spot, but could spend some time at the four when Nabors needs a rest. A lot of these guys were seeing their first playing time last year at Lamar, whether out of high school or the junior college level, so improvement is a possibility. And time is almost out for junior college transfers like Brown and Worrell. If somebody can turn from a newcoming roleplayer into a leading veteran, preferably one of the centers, then the Lamar frontcourt will be decent.
Meanwhile the backcourt, well Kenny Dawkins, has to carry the Cardinals. After averaging 14.6 points and 4.5 assists his first year at Lamar via Arizona Western College, Dawkins is the uncontested leader of the team. He is a superb shooter and knocked down 42.0 percent of his attempts from long range. He hit 2.3 long balls per game and nobody else returning hit over one. However, Brandon McThay, along with the newcomers, will get more opportunities this time around. McThay shot over 42 percent from beyond the arc; he just did not take too many shots. If he is going to help replace the departures in the backcourt, he will certainly get his chances to hit more three-pointers.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Kenny Dawkins, Senior, Guard, 14.6 points per game
Brandon McThay, Senior, Guard, 5.9 points per game
Brandon Moton, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Justin Nabors, Senior, Forward, 11.2 points per game
Tristan Worrell, Senior, Forward, 3.4 points per game