Great Expectations

The Sam Houston State men’s basketball has set the bar high for the 2002-2003 season. Friday night the Kats will begin the journey to what the team hopes will end with a trip to the NCAA tournament in March.”Our expectation are real high,” senior Donald Cole said. “The whole team expects for us to go undefeated; we don’t think we should lose a game. Everybody has the same thing in their heart. We think we have the best team in the conference and if we go out and play as hard as we can every night, we will accomplish our goal.”Bearkat head coach Bob Marlin said this year’s team has everything needed to accomplish its goal.”This is the deepest team we’ve had, the biggest and probably the most athletic team,” Marlin said. “With six seniors back, we feel like we have a chance to do some good things. We were picked first in the conference, which is a first for Sam Houston basketball. We’re just going to meet it head on.”Last year when we beat (Texas) Tech and Nebraska, everybody was coming at us and we lost too many close games. Hopefully this year, with another year of maturity and being a year older, it will help our mentality and concentration.”Last season the Kats picked up big road wins at Texas Tech, giving Bobby Knight his first home loss of the season, and against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The momentum from those wins, however, did not carry over to Southland Conference play, as SHSU finished in seventh place, one spot out of the conference tournament.This season, Marlin is looking for Cole to be a leader on the team, a job Cole believes he can handle.Cole is the fifth-leading returning rebounder in the country, but his personal accomplishments are the least of his worries this season.”My personal goals have nothing to do with individual accomplishments,” Cole said. “This year I want to make my team better. I know people will be keying in on me a lot this year so I know with the teammates I have, they’ll help me out.”Marlin said the fact that Cole said his team is ahead of his personal goals is a sign he is ready to be a leader.”Last year he tried to lead but he was new,” Marlin said. “I think he has really doing much better in the leadership role this year. He wants to make the team better. He understands he’s a big part of what we’re doing, but he also understands he has to play better defensively and he’s working on that.While Marlin is looking at Cole to be a leader, he also knows the rest of his team is full of talent.The Kats have six players that can play the point guard position this season, an asset he is happy to have.”I think that’s a good thing,” Marlin said. “You can never have too many point guards. With our versatility we are able to do some things. Last year, Robert Shannon lead the league in assists and the year before that Eddy Barlow lead the league and Marcus Ebow is the best passer on our team.”Sam Houston will also look to 6-foot-11-inch center Eddy Fobbs for a powerful post presence. Fobbs is the biggest player in the conference this year and will be the tallest player on the court Friday nigh at TCU.”We’re excited about Eddy,” Marlin said. “He’s heavier; he weighs 232 pounds. He’s stronger; he spent part of the summer up here and he did a good job. He’s figured out how to play. Offensively and defensively, he’s thinking ahead to the next play, and the game has slowed down for him from when he came in as a freshman.”The Kats will also receive a big boost in December when they are able to utilize the skills of Marion Kinsey. Kinsey, a transfer from the University of Kansas, is not eligible to play until the Kats game against Arkansas on Dec. 18.”I think the biggest thing he brings to the team is leadership,” Marlin said. “Being at the high-major level and playing for a guy like Roy Williams (Kansas head coach), he may be our smartest player. On top of that, he’s one of our best competitor, and that’s a pretty good combination.”Friday night the Kats will tip off the regular season against the TCU Horned Frogs. The game will be the first step of the journey to what the team hopes will be something great.”Friday night we have to go out and play ball,” Kinsey said. “Sort of like a pace setter in track; that’s what these first couple of games are like. They will show us where we’re at . It all starts Friday and we’ll see how we play.”

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