Stephen F. Austin has never been what you would call a basketball school.
Located in Nacogdoches in the eastern part of the state, and like in all of Texas, football comes first.
But the Lumberjacks had a glorious era under Brad Underwood, now at Illinois, and current coach Kyle Keller has done well too.
SFA has become a tournament regular in the last few years although last year, at 14-16, was a bit of a comedown.
The Lumberjacks have started off 4-1 though with wins over two familiar opponents - NCCU, by 30, and Greg Paulus’ Niagara, by nine. The sole loss comes to Rutgers by eight.
Keller is using a deep rotation with 11 guys getting meaningful minutes. He has four guys who are the primary scorers.
First among them is Kevon Harris. A 6-6 senior from Georgia, Harris is averaging nearly 20 ppg. He’s supported by Gavin Kensmil is a thick (6-7/255) junior from Suriname who is putting up 12 ppg and seven boards.
SFA uses three guards. John Comeaux is a 5-11 senior averaging 10.6 ppg. Cameron Johnson is a 6-4 junior averaging 10.8 ppg and Roti Ware is a 6-3 junior putting up 5.2 ppg.
Roti Ware is just behind the starters in terms of minutes. He’s a 6-3 junior.
Stephen F. Austin, like Northwest Missouri State, has a significant advantage in experience, and as we learned in that game, experience is a big freaking deal.
On the other hand, look how much Duke has changed since that exhibition game left tongues wagging (unaware tongues for the most part). Vernon Carey has shown he can dominate. Cassius Stanley has carved out a major role for himself.
And more recently, so has Wendell Moore.
The 6-6 native of Concorde really changes things for Duke. He is athletic and versatile and Duke can plug him into any number of situations.
If Duke can get some separation from the Lumberjacks, look for Coach K to continue to tinker with lineups and to try to get a couple of guys going. Alex O’Connell could really help the team with scoring, experience and Matthew Hurt, who has shown a lot of potential, is having some typical freshmen ups and downs. No one questions his ability to shoot though and he’s a smarter than average player. Like Moore, he’ll figure it out and like everyone, on his own schedule.
If the Blue Devils can continue to build on tough defense and around the emerging core of Tre Jones, Carey, Stanley, Moore, Jack White and Javin DeLaurier, more success will follow.
Stephen F. Austin is still a bit of an unknown but basketball riches beckon if the Blue Devils continue to improve.
- Lumberjacks battle No. 1-ranked Duke tonight
- Duke men’s basketball to return home for contest against Stephen F. Austin
- X-Factor: Joey Baker looks to energize Duke men’s basketball in return to Cameron Indoor Stadium
- Thoughts on the AP poll: Duke men’s basketball remains in top spot
- Not getting caught up in the moment key for SFA against No.1 Duke