Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Louisiana Tech here Thursday night

So how is Louisiana Tech doing it -- being 5-0 in the WAC -- after years of basketball mediocrity?

We call the 2009-2010 situation "the right players at the right time" -- say a type of harmonic convergence but that actually negates the effort and hard work put in by all involved in order to reach the standing of the Kerry Rupp's squad today.

Let's explain.

When Rupp came aboard, he had something like six players on scholarship. Growing pains were indeed suffered but he slowly added and subtracted his way to a group of talented guys who finally and truly complement each other. A sloth-like playing style -- necessary due to the lack of talent and bodies -- kept the Bulldogs in many games in previous seasons but that has been replaced by a more modern tempo.

LT is currently a true pick-you-poison team, with each starter scoring in double figures. Plus, the Bulldogs are shooting 51% as a team while holding opponents to just a 42% average. That will win a lot of games right there. Add in the factor of a 5+ per game rebounding superiority and beating Tech is a difficult 40-minute task.

Most of all, player improvement has proven to be an enormous factor in the resurgence of the program. Four of Rupp's five starters have much better numbers a year ago (the fifth is a newcomer). We more than note this below.

WAC Schedule To Date

01/02/10 vs. Nevada W, 77-71
01/04/10 vs. Utah State W, 82-60
01/09/10 at Idaho W, 77-71
01/11/10 at Boise State W, 79-64
01/14/10 vs. Fresno State W, 81-73

The Bulldog Starting Five

6-foot-10 Magnum Rolle - He is the most magnificent athlete in the WAC as he can move, run and jump with anyone, is averaging 14.8 ppg. and 9.8 rpg. in WAC play (higher numbers than in his non-conference games), while shooting 62% -- the strength to dominate inside offensively remains absent but look for him to perform at least a couple of highlight reel plays a game -- Rolle averaged 12.2 ppg. and 7.2 rpg. last season while shooting 53%

6-foot-7 Olu Ashaolu - Talk about improvement! He is averaging 10.4 ppg. and 8.2 rpg. in conference play and has enjoyed seven double-doubles so far this season -- a weakness is his going just 9-22 at the foul line -- Ashaolu averaged 5.3 ppg. and 4.3 rpg. last season

6-foot-5 Kyle Gibson - Doesn't it seem like Gibson has been in Ruston forever? He is Mr. Indispensible at 22 ppg. and 4 rpg. and is extremely difficult to defend as exemplified by his attempting seven three-pointers (outside) plus earning eight foul shots a game (inside) this go-around -- Gibson averaged 16.1 ppg. last season

6-foot-3 Jamel Guyton - His 14.4 ppg. average is also higher than what he scored in non-league action and he is shooting 51% overall and 50% on trey attempts. Guyton is deadly at the foul line -- nine for 10 -- but this small number indicates he cannot be left alone on the perimeter or even in the mid-range area -- Guyton averaged 11.8 ppg. last season, shooting 38% overall and 34% from long range

5-foot-11 DeAndre Brown - The Bulldogs finally have a true point, one who is athletic, can create and also score. He is yet another Bulldog who is shooting better in league play -- currently 56% to 47% prior to the WAC schedule

The Cavalry

6-foot-8 David Jackson - He began at Idaho as a freshman, then transferred to a community college in his homestate of Arizona and finally landed in Ruston. Jackson does a little bit of everything, rarely hurts his team and accepts his off-the-bench role. He averages 20 minutes of playing time

6-foot-0 Yonas Berhe - His on-the-court time has dropped to five minutes a contest with WAC play -- he fills in at the point

6-foot-3 Anson Bartlett - A backup in the backcourt averaging eight minutes a game -- shooting appears to be his best asset

6-foot-10 Shawn Oliverson - Call this the most unusal transfer ever, going from Cornell to Louisiana Tech. He is a backup in the middle averaging six minutes a contest

The LT roster, by position

Brandon Gibson 6-5 225 G SO
Jamel Guyton 6-3 200 G SR
Yonas Berhe 6-0 170 G SO
DeAndre Brown 5-11 160 G JR
Andres Marmolejo 6-3 215 G JR
Kyle Gibson 6-5 205 G SR
Darius Redding 6-4 205 F FR
Tevin Hall 5-10 155 PG FR
Anson Bartlett 6-3 175 G SO
Justin Rake 6-3 200 SG FR

Olu Ashaolu 6-7 220 G/F SO
Trey Felder 6-5 169 SG/SF FR
David Jackson 6-8 205 F SR
Kaiser Stegall 6-3 205 SF FR

Magnum Rolle 6-11 225 C/F SR
Shawn Oliverson 6-10 250 C/F JR

What To Expect

Louisiana Tech doesn't have much in the way of a bench as each starter -- save one -- is above 30 minutes of playing time a game and the exception is averaging 28 -- getting the Bulldogs into foul trouble can cause much less proficiency offensively and defensively but it's something easier written than done

* This is not your father's Bulldog team where walking the ball up the court and draining possessons of at least 35 seconds of time are the norm

* One way or the other, Kyle Gibson is going to get his points -- reducing the others from their scoring averages is a much more feasible feat

* LT leads the WAC in scoring and is second in scoring defense -- a tough to crack combination

* The Bulldogs are also tops in shooting percentage and second in field goal percentage defense

* Rupp's team is last in assists indicating a lot of one-on-one, dribble-drive play plus some offensive rebounds converted into baskets

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