Thursday, January 1, 2009

Louisiana Tech at Walt McPherson Court on Saturday

Kerry Rupp took over the Louisiana Tech program last season and suffered through a dismal time with just eight or so players eligible -- a number of them freshman -- and the real talent on the team sitting out due to NCAA transfer requirements. Now he pretty much has all his 'horses' available and it's a matter of getting his team to play congruently and consistently.

Kerry Rupp Bio (aided by Louisiana Tech athletics)

Louisiana Tech announced April 13, 2007, that Kerry Rupp has been named the sixteenth men's basketball head coach...Rupp comes to Tech after stints at Alabama-Birmingham, Indiana and Utah...

...Prior to this past season at UAB, Rupp was associate head coach under Mike Davis at Indiana from 2004-2006...From 2000-2004, Rupp coached under Rick Majerus for the University of Utah...

Rupp also had duties as interim head coach for the part of the 2004 season at Utah and finished with a 10-4 record with a Mountain West Tournament Championship for the first time in school history.

Prior to entering the college ranks, he had an extensive career in the Utah high school coaching circles.

The LT Season To Date

11/15/08 at Louisiana Lafayette W 61-59
11/18/08 at Grambling State W 80-74
11/22/08 at UALR L 69-78
11/27/08 vs Seattle (Alaska) L 46-61
11/28/08 vs Western Carolina (Alaska) L 62-76
11/29/08 at Alaska Anchorage L 57-62
12/06/08 Grambling State W 77-47
12/10/08 ULM W 69-57
12/13/08 Centenary W 77-71
12/15/08 at McNeese State L 44-61
12/18/08 at Samford L 58-71
12/22/08 Texas Christian W 72-67
12/28/08 at UCLA L 55-78

The Bulldog starting five

Kenneth Cooper
C 6-10 260 11.9 ppg., 6.9 rpg., 43% from the floor, 60% from foul line
Magnum Rolle F 6-11 225 11.3 ppg., 6.8 rpg., 56% from the floor, leads team with 12 blocks
David Jackson F 6-8 195 5.5 ppg., 4.4 rpg.
Jamel Guyton G 6-3 180 13 ppg., 3.4 rpg., 38% from the floor, 30% from three (team-leading 82 shots), 28 assists, team-leading 19 steals
Kyle Gibson G 6-5 205 16.1 ppg. 3.6 rpg., 44% shooting overall, 43% from three, team-leading 38 assists & team-leading 48 turnovers

Cooper -- He is a Louisiana native who transferred out of Oklahoma State after two years. He was known for his defensive play rather than any offensive proclivity. But in 13 games so far this season, Cooper has just three blocked shots and also has an intriguingly low total of just 24 fouls -- this in 32 minutes of play a game. He's obviously big and strong but not necessarily the most maneuverable.

Rolle -- He is a Louisiana native who transferred from LSU. Call him the best athlete in the WAC, a near seven-footer who can run and jump with the best. He's averaged just under eight shots a game to date this season -- we thought that number would have been higher at this point. He's the top shotblocker for the Bulldogs and also second in steals, playing just under 26 minutes a game. He can produce numbers -- it's a matter of doing so every time out for him. He has the potential to be a dominant player.

Jackson -- He's an intra-conference transfer who played as a freshman at Idaho but left and attended an Arizona junior college last season. He may or may not start Monday night but he's playing close to 28 minutes a game and chipping in with contributions across the board for LT. He's long and lean and hurt SJSU with some timely shots as a short-lived Vandal.

Guyton -- Basketball doesn't have official designated shooters but Guyton would qualify if such is ever instituted. He's a transfer from a Florida junior college who started out hot with his scoring and shooting but has tailed off since. He's tops on the team in three-point attempts -- in fact, he's taken far more trey attempts (82) than from closer in (58) in 12 games. Guyton leads the team in steals, is second in assists and is also controbuting 3.4 boards a game in 33 minutes a contest.

Gibson -- Forced to play at the point for the majority of games, Gibson is the best Bulldog player but he's most proficient as an off guard or wing. He's more a scorer type whose overall shooting percentage is equal to his his longrange one -- 43%. He tops the team in assists with 37 but has committed 48 turnovers.

Olu Ashaolu -- A lot was expected immediately of Ashaolu but he has truly struggled. He's a physical specimen at a very athletic 6-7, 230 but his numbers indicate he's in the midst of a learning process: 37% overall from the floor, 46% from the foul line and four assists to 30 turnovers.

James Loe -- He's started eight games so far this season (and may start in place of Jackson on Saturday) but is truly a fourth or fifth backcourter on most teams. The key is to maintain defensive pressure on him and force errors.

Jamel White, a point guard transfer from Nebraska, was booted off the team prior to the season, causing both a depth and a starting issue at that position for Louisiana Tech.

As A Team

*** Louisiana Tech is shooting 43% as a team from the floor but holding opponents to a just lower 42%

*** With three-point shooting, the Techsters and their opponents are essentially tied at 32%

*** In free throw shooting, LT is at 65%

*** The Bulldogs are out-boarding opponents 36 to 33 per game. The team has a number of players who are working the offensive boards: Cooper has a ratio of 56/27 defensive to offensive rebounds -- Rolle is at 43/25 -- Jackson 38/19 and Ashaolu is 29-18. Blocking these guys out will be imperative.

*** Many of the other numbers don't tell a positive story: 135 Tech assists this season to 167 for opponents -- 226 Bulldog turnovers to 177 for opposing teams -- 65 steals to 98 for opponents

*** Louisiana Tech is performing better in the first halves of games, totaling 373 points while giving up 368. The second half shows a deficit with 440 for and the allowance of 486

The Louisiana Tech men's roster (by position & alphabetical)

Olu Ashaolu 6-7 230 G redshirt freshman
Yonas Berhe 6-0 170 G freshman
Brandon Gibson 6-5 230 G freshman
Kyle Gibson 6-5 205 G junior
Jamel Guyton 6-3 180 G junior
James Loe 5-11 190 G senior
Anson Bartlett 6-3 175 G freshman

David Jackson 6-8 195 F junior
Adrian Rogers 6-6 235 F senior
Magnum Rolle 6-11 225 C/F junior

Kenneth Cooper 6-10 260 C junior
Shawn Oliverson 6-10 250 C/F sophomore

Tech has enjoyed a bit of a Canadian pipeline with two players from up north on the roster and a third stashed away at Salt Lake City College. Two Bulldog high school signees from last year had academic problems and were placed in the junior college ranks. Kerry Rupp also has a transfer from the Ivy League (Cornell) in Shawn Oliverson.

What else

*** Louisiana Tech is 2-5 on the road this season, plus 0-2 on neutral courts.

*** We are not sure how often or for how long, but Rupp has used a 1-3-1 zone at times this season with the 6-11 Rolle at the top. But then that puts the team's best shotblocker positioned far away from the basket.

*** As applicable to a number of teams still in process of an indentity, which LA TECH team will appear on Saturday? Will it be the assertive version of Cooper and Rolle in action? Will Gibson be able to shift away from playing the point in order to maximize his skills set? Can Loe produce more assists than turnovers? Will Ashaolu work the offensive boards? Can Tech as a team limit errors and miscues? Or not?

*** Losses to Seattle, Western Carolina and Alaska Anchorage were clearly not forseen but that was a while ago. A recent win against Texas Christian indicates the Bulldogs have the wherewithawal to be players this season in the WAC. The $64,000 questions are when and how often?

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