Up to this point, the Southland Conference has been most known for being the last known whereabouts of Pat Knight, formerly the head coach of Lamar University; but Stephen F Austin is ready to change all that.
After falling one game short of an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament last season, the Stephen F Austin Lumberjacks have rolled through the 2013-14 campaign like a hot axe through butter. Sitting at a whopping 27-2, the eye test seems to lend itself to upset Cinderella-type talk. So that is what I will attempt to do.
A team with a mark like unto Stephen F Austin, but with no national exposure, must have played a weak schedule. Indeed, the Jacks’ only major competition was a November date against the Texas Longhorns in Austin, which SFA lost 72-62. Yet after an eight point loss at the hands of East Tennessee State eight days later, the Lumberjacks have yet to taste defeat again.
Count them. 24 wins in a row. While the victories came against the likes of Incarnate Word, Elmhurst, and, well, Lamar, they are all still wins. No one is saying that all wins are created equal. I get that. But at what point does a team become so comfortable with winning that it thinks it could beat anyone else? Such is the attitude with Stephen F Austin.
Even without winning the Southland Conference title, the Lumberjacks could still, possibly, receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. And once in, they could do some damage. SFA averages just over 75 points per game and keeps its opponents in the low 60s. Their have a balanced scoring attack with four players in double figures and a fifth just under 10 per game. Leading the way is 6’6″ Junior forward Jacob Parker, who leads the team in both scoring (15) and rebounding (7) and senior guard Desmond Haymon who puts in just over 14 a game.
As is the case with all Cinderella stories, going deep into the tournament is a long shot. With a superb overall record, look for the Lumberjacks to get a higher than usual seed for the Southland Conference representatives. And with that higher seed, SFA could certainly chop down a big power in the NCAA Tournament.
Please stay tuned to this Website for more our Cinderella Series, like this one on Stephen F Austin. And follow me on Twitter @coachdarin22. Also follow Matt Bigelow and his Cinderella profiles.
Feature Image: Stephen F. Austin University Facebook Page