HOUSTON, Texas – The Lamar University men’s basketball team has been picked to finish second in a preseason poll of the league head coaches and media relations directors announced Southland Conference officials at the league’s basketball media day in Houston Monday morning.
The Cardinals have been receiving high praise from several preseason pollsters in the lead up to the 2017-18 season with multiple publications picking LU as their preseason favorite, and one publication selecting the Cardinals to advance to the NCAA Championships.
Monday’s selection is the highest preseason pick for the Cardinals since the 2007 season with Big Red was selected to win the SLC East division (that year the league was broken up into the east and west divisions).
The Cardinals received five first-place votes and 234 points to finish second behind Stephen F. Austin (268 points), and 25 points ahead of Southeastern Louisiana. The 2017 poll is one of the more unique in conference history as the league did away with the separate head coaches and media relations directors’ polls, electing to combine the two into one poll, and from the standpoint that there was not one clear favorite entering the season. Six different teams received at least one first-place vote, including defending conference champion New Orleans who was picked sixth overall.
“I think every coach here will tell you they don’t put too much stock in preseason polls,” said LU head coach Tic Price. “Whether we’re picked first or last, it won’t change how we approach each game. These polls are largely based off the players each team has returning and the success you had last season. Nothing in this league will be given to you. Our guys understand that they have to go out and earn it in every practice and every game.”
A great deal of the excitement surrounding the program is centered around the veteran leadership the Cardinals have returning. Big Red returns seven letterwinners and four starters from last season’s 19-win campaign that stunned Oregon State, put the Cardinals back in the Southland Conference tournament and made its first trip to the postseason since 2012.
The Cardinals list of returning players includes preseason first-team All-Southland Conference selection Colton Weisbrod. The Nederland senior led the team and ranked among the league’s top 10 in scoring and rebounding a year ago, and some publications have listed him as a preseason favorite for player of the year honors. Weisbrod enters the year as the conference’s top returning rebounder (8.1 rpg).
In addition to Weisbrod, the Cardinals return their top five scorers, including one of the top three-point threats in the Southland Conference – Nick Garth. A junior from Houston, Garth averaged just under 12 points per game last season while shooting 42.7 percent from beyond the arc. The team’s returning starters include point guard Joey Frenchwood (senior), forward Josh Nzeakor (junior), guard Zjori Bosha (senior) and Weisbrod.
The preseason all-conference team was released Monday morning at the Southland Conference Basketball Media Day at the Toyota Center in Houston. The media day included the men’s and women’s basketball coaches from every league institution. The Southland Conference basketball preview show will air on ESPN3 Monday evening at 6 p.m.