Jimmie Tramel's Southland Insider
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Thursday, January 17, 2013
1/17/13 at 4:47 AM
Stephen F. Austin: The standings don't lie. Stephen F. Austin is the only Southland Conference team with an unbeaten league record. The Lumberjacks improved to 5-0 when they went on the road Saturday to defeat preseason favorite Oral Roberts. There was no question who the aggressor was when they shared a court.
Southeastern Louisiana: Oral Roberts threatened to run Southeastern Louisiana out of its gym in a conference opener, leading by as many as 25 points before "settling" for a 14-point victory. And all the Lions have done since is win. They have won three games in a row, second-longest current streak by a Southland team (Stephen F. Austin has won nine in a row).
Lamar and Central Arkansas: Two weeks into the Southland Conference season, Central Arkansas is 0-4, and Lamar, which won the 2012 Southland Conference Tournament, is 0-5.
News and notes
Haves, have-nots: RPI numbers suggest ORU's new conference is top-heavy. Three Southland Conference teams (Stephen F. Austin, Northwestern State, ORU) are in the top 100 of the RPI. But the league's other seven teams are 200 or higher in the RPI.
Big jump: Because ORU played Southland opponents with top-100 RPIs last week, the Golden Eagles vaulted into the top 100 themselves. At No. 86, they own the best RPI of any team in the nation with a losing record against Division I competition.
ORU is 8-8 with a 7-8 mark against D-I competition. Seven defeats came against teams in the top 70 of the RPI.
Now the Golden Eagles can brace for a fall. Their RPI will take a hit because they face Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (272) and Sam Houston State (208) this week.
Don't call me Princeton: Stephen F. Austin leads the nation in scoring defense and has held 47 consecutive opponents below 70 points. Yes, some of the success at playing lowball can be attributed to style of play on both ends of the court. Coach Danny Kaspar admits his team tries to control the game. But he quickly followed that by saying "we're not Princeton."
Said Kaspar, "I don't think anybody would call us Princeton, where you make 10 passes every possession, if you know what I'm saying. I refuse to be labeled a Princeton-type team. On a scale of 1 to 10, if Princeton is a 1 and Loyola Marymount is a 10, I would like to call us about a 6 or 6 1/2."
Former ORU coach honored: It was announced Tuesday that Kansas basketball coach Bill Self, who was ORU's head coach for seasons in the 1990s, was selected for induction into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.
Current ORU head coach Scott Sutton launched his coaching career while working for Self. Sutton said Self is "without question" hall of fame-worthy, citing Self's playing career (he helped OSU to an NCAA Tournament appearance in 1983) and Self's body of work in coaching.
Self shepherded ORU to an NIT trip in 1997, and that was considered an important step since the program was only six years removed from competing at the NAIA level. He left ORU to become Tulsa's head coach and led the Golden Hurricane to an Elite Eight season in 2000.
"He is as deserving as anybody I know of," Sutton said before adding this: "He has always been a great ambassador for high school basketball in this state through his different team camps, and he has always had great relationships with high school coaches in this state. I think that's another area where he has done a great job."
Player of the week: Northwestern State junior forward DeQuan Hicks, who averaged 18.1 points and 8.3 rebounds in three games, is the league's player of the week.
1. Stephen F. Austin: The Lumberjacks own the league's best RPI. They stretched their winning streak to nine games and they improved to 3-0 in road games against Oklahoma teams when they beat Oral Roberts last Saturday.
2. Oral Roberts: The Golden Eagles learned they have to get tougher - and healthier - after losing on their homecourt to Stephen F. Austin.
3. Northwestern State: The Demons own the second-best RPI (66) of any Southland Conference member. They had the best RPI before splitting road games against ORU and Central Arkansas last week.
4. Sam Houston State: The Bearkats have won seven of their last eight games and are coming off a 15-point road victory over the next team on this list.
5. McNeese State: The Cowboys still are in possession (by a smidgen over Sam Houston State) of the Southland's fourth-best RPI, but they need to do better (1-4 so far) in league play.
6. Southeastern Louisiana: The Lions are off to their best four-game start (3-1) in league play since the 2004-05 season, when they reached the NCAA Tournament and lost a first-round game to Oklahoma State.
7. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi: The Islanders aren't fumble-prone. They have committed 10 or fewer turnovers in five games.
8. Nicholls State: The Colonels are only 3-11, but they are 2-2 in Southland Conference games.
9. Central Arkansas: The Bears (0-4 in league play) fell behind by 20 points in the first half of a Saturday homecourt loss to Northwestern State.
10. Lamar: The Cardinals played a monstrous non-league schedule and haven't recovered. They are 0-5 in Southland games.
GAME OF THE WEEK:
Oral Roberts at Sam Houston St., 4 p.m. Saturday
Stephen F. Austin, Oral Roberts and Northwestern State are considered the primary contenders for the Southland Conference title. While the Lumberjacks and Demons play home games against teams with losing records this week, the Golden Eagles follow a Thursday trip to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi with a Saturday road game against Sam Houston State, which is 10-6 overall, 6-2 at home and 3-1 in league play.