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Date Posted: Wed, November 03 2004, 12:49:53
Author: GBM
Subject: CBS Sportsline SLC Preview

Southland Conference preview
By Gregg Doyel
SportsLine.com Senior Writer
Tell Gregg your opinion!


The Southland Conference -- already an interesting conference regarding its coaching composition -- just got more interesting. Fascinating, you might even say.


Center Eddy Fobbs with four returning Sam Houston State starters? Sounds like a recipe for success.(Getty Images)
The league has former Oklahoma and Texas Christian wins leader Billy Tubbs back on the bench for his second turn at Lamar. It has former Memphis coach Tic Price about to unleash his son as his starting point guard at McNeese State. And it has the brother of Arkansas football coach Dickey Nutt, Dennis Nutt, as the coach at Texas State.

But it no longer has Ricky Blanton, the former LSU star who was trying to revive the program at Nicholls State. Less than a week after practice began for his third season at the helm, Blanton resigned citing family reasons.

Interesting. Very interesting. Oh, as for the product on the court?

Read on.

Stock Chart
Team Stock
1. Northwestern State
2. Sam Houston State
3. Lamar
4. Texas-San Antonio
5. Southeastern Louisiana
6. Texas-Arlington
7. Stephen F. Austin
8. Nicholls State
9. Louisiana-Monroe
10. Texas State-San Marcos
11. McNeese State

Accolades
First team
F -- Clifton Lee, Northwestern State
F -- Joe Thompson, Sam Houston State
C -- Nate Lofton, Southeastern Louisiana
G -- Raymond Anthony, Lamar
G -- Willie Depron, Nicholls State
Second team
F -- Daryl Mason, Louisiana-Monroe
F -- Ray Selvage, Texas-San Antonio
C -- Eddy Fobbs, Sam Houston State
G -- Teddy Davis, Lamar
G -- Jermaine Wallace, Northwestern State
Player of the year
Nate Lofton, Southeastern Louisiana
Newcomer of the year
Teddy Davis, Lamar
Breakthrough player
Steven Thomas, Texas-Arlington

Northwestern State

Top three: G Jermaine Wallace, F Clifton Lee, F Byron Allen.

On the rise: Teams in the Southland Conference don't return five starters. It's probably a rule, though we can't be sure. But what we can be sure of is this: The Demons have broken that rule. They return all five starters from last season's team that tied for fifth place in the league, and just to show off they return a starter from 2002-03 as well, sophomore wing Jermaine Spencer. Plus three key reserves from a year ago. Wow.

Sam Houston State
Top three: F Joe Thompson, C Eddy Fobbs, F Wilder Auguste.

On the rise: One year after having to replace all five starters, the Bearkats return four starters plus 2002-03 stud Fobbs, who redshirted last season. The Bearkats tied Northwestern State for fifth last season, and it wouldn't surprise us if they tie the Demons for first this time around.

Lamar

Top three: G Raymond Anthony, G Jeremy Long, G Teddy Davis.

On the rise: What, you thought Billy Tubbs came out of (coaching) retirement to lose? Not likely. In his first full season on the recruiting trail, he put together a whopper of a nine-player class that was ranked in the top five by the Hoop Scoop, which takes into account quantity but noted that Tubbs had lured quality to Lamar as well. Like we're surprised.

Texas-San Antonio

Top three: F Justin Harbert, F John Millsap, F Ray Selvage.

On the decline: Every starter but one is back. So why the projected decline? The one missing starter is LeRoy Hurd, the Southland's player of the year in 2003-04.

Southeastern Louisiana

Top three: C Nate Clifton, G Jonathan Patton, F Jonathan Walker.

On the decline: The Lions have admirable size, with the 6-foot-10, 250-pound Clifton back as well as the 6-8, 225-pound Walker and former Miami recruit Leonard Harden, who goes 6-9, 260. If they can get the ball past half court, the Lions will play volleyball on the offensive glass until the darned thing goes in the hoop.

Texas-Arlington

Top three: F Steven Thomas, G Stephen Floyd, G Jarrett Howell.

On the decline: After losing four starters from last season's team that tied for first in the league, Texas-Arlington is going down. The question is, how far? Part of the answer will lie with the recovery of junior guard Brady Dawkins, a 3-point specialist who can run the point but who suffered a knee injury in May and might redshirt.

Stephen F. Austin

Top three: C Taylor Moore, G Marcus Clark, F Hank Rivers.

On the decline: Stephen F. Austin has won at least 20 games each of the past two seasons, so far be it from us to say it can't happen again. Well, on second thought, that's exactly what we're saying. It can't happen again. Not this season.

Nicholls State

Top three: G Willie Depron, F Jason Wilkins, F Dominique Geason.

On the rise: The Colonels were rocked in October by the mysterious departure of coach Ricky Blanton, who left behind a program that went 1-15 in the league last season but returned four starters.

Louisiana-Monroe

Top three: F Daryl Mason, F DeAndre Alexander, G Tony Helton.

On the decline: Four starters are gone but nine new players are in the program, including Texas A&M transfer Mason, a part-time starter as a freshman in the Big 12. If he's not a star in this league, we'll be stunned. If the Indians finish in the top three, though, we'll be equally stunned.

Texas State

Top three: G Josh Naylor, F Anthony Dill, F Zach Allison.

On the decline: Two-thirds of the starting backcourt must be replaced. Add to that backcourt inexperience a tiny frontcourt, and Texas State has the makings of a problem.

McNeese State

Top three: G Edward Garriet, G Ryan Price, G Troy Aaron.

On the decline: Four starters are gone, but two potential new starters are very interesting. One is the coach's son, Ryan Price, the likely starting point guard. The other is Aaron, a local hero who transferred to McNeese State after a season at Tulane.

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