More than halfway through Southland Conference play, Sam Houston State’s men’s basketball team stands second in the SLC with an overall record of 19-5 and a 10-1 league mark.
After losing to Stephen F. Austin State in the SLC tournament championship last March, the Kats used this for fuel all offseason. With this year’s tournament just more than a month away, they have put themselves in good position to make another run at it.
The 2014-15 season has shown the Kats to be a well-oiled machine playing good team basketball.
“I think a lot of the experience from last year has given the guys confidence,” head coach Jason Hooten said.
With four seniors and one junior in the starting lineup, Hooten said it has a lot do with the amount of leadership on this year’s team.
SHSU features a balanced attack with three players averaging in double figures in Southland Conference play. Hooten said this has a lot do with their offensive identity.
“Our ball screen motion is an equal opportunity offense, so it gets a lot of different people involved,” Hooten said. “It’s not an offense where you can just key on a certain guy.”
Junior shooting guard Dakarai Henderson said what makes this team different from last year is their defensive play.
“Even when we have off games shooting, defense has been saving us,” Henderson said.
SHSU is third in the nation in rebounding, a statistic that says a lot about the will of this team.
“I think a lot of it is because we’re so good defensively and guys are in the right places, and then the other part of it is just our toughness and guys sacrificing themselves and willing to put it all on the line,” Hooten said.
Now in the backstretch of the season, the Kats continue to chase their dream and make history at SHSU by winning the SLC title and advancing past the first round of the NCAA tournament.
“This school has only been to the big dance twice, and no one has ever won there,” Henderson said. “Our ultimate goal is to not only get there, but be the first team to win in the NCAA Tournament.”
The Kats next battle will be Saturday at Houston Baptist. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.