It is make or break time for Kats

It is time to see who wants it the most.

The Southland Conference tournament starts this week with a chance to go to the big dance on the line.

The Sam Houston State Bearkats received a first round bye in the conference tournament and will host McNeese State on Wednesday.

Stephen F. Austin, who finished second in the SLC, also received a bye and will host Southwest Texas State,the highest remaining seed.

The third seeded University of Texas-Arlington Mavericks lost to No. 6 McNeese State Monday night and No. 4 Southwest Texas State defeated No. 5 Louisiana-Monroe.

Bearkat head coach Bob Marlin was unaware of the Kats opponent for Wednesday on Monday afternoon, but said that the team will prepare the same as usual.

“Normally you would think that we would play Southwest because they are (number) four and (number) two would play (number) three, but it is tournament time and usually logic goes out the window,” Marlin said. “We are just going through our normal routine, but Tuesday we will know who we play and we will have one day to prepare.”

The post-season awards are piling up for the Bearkats following the end of the regular season.

Donald Cole was voted the Southland Conference “Player of the Year” and first team All-Conference by SLC head coaches and a panel of media members on Sunday.

The 6 foot, 8 inch senior from Port Arthur was second in the league in scoring, averaging 17.4 points per game and third in rebounding with 8.2.

“I’m excited for him,” Marlin said. “Cole works hard and he had some big games for us. He was a good player when we got him and hopefully we have made him better.”

Cole was twice named “Player of the Week” throughout the season in leading the Kats to a 21-6 record.

Marlin was named SLC “Coach of the Year” for the second time after spearheading a 17-3 conference championship season. Marlin won his first “Coach of the Year” award in the 2000 season when he guided the Bearkats to their first ever SLC title.

Senior guard Robert Shannon and junior center Eddy Fobbs also received All-Southland Conference honors.

Shannon was named to the second team after leading the conference in assists for the second consecutive year.

Shannon was second on the team in scoring with 10.6 points per game. Like Cole he was named conference “Player of the Week” two times.

“We thought that Robert would get second team even though we were hoping for first team, but they don’t give the little guys much love,” Marlin said. “We knew Fobbs had a chance for third team and we were pleased that he made it.”

Fobbs was named to the third team after he led the conference in blocked shots on his way to setting a new school record with 71.

Fobbs averaged 6.6 points, 2.73 blocks and 5.3 rebounds per game.

Wednesday’s tournament game is scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m. at Johnson Coliseum.

For the first time since the SLC tournament has been around, admission will be free to students with a valid student identification card. The conference voted on this resolution last week.

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