Basketball fans might be surprised who the best men’s college basketball team in Texas is. Their campus isn’t located in a major metropolitan area like Austin, College Station or Houston. They’re not members of the Big 12 or Southeastern conferences. And, although they’ve had modest success over the years, they’ve only made one appearance in the NCAA tournament.
Lumberjacks have 25-3 record heading into regular season finale
Stephen F. Austin, located in the Piney Woods of East Texas, ran its season record to 25-3 on Thursday, March 7 with a 57-42 win over arch-rival Sam Houston State. With only a regular season home game at William R. Johnson Coliseum in Nacogdoches against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Saturday, March 9, the Lumberjacks seem poised to be the top seed in the Southland Conference Tournament in Katy, Texas that will be held March 13-16.
Danny Kasper has led team for thirteen years
The Lumberjacks success can be attributed to Coach Danny Kasper. During his thirteen years at the helm Kasper has amassed a 244-139 record, including an NCAA bid and a post-season NIT appearance.
Patient offense, stifling defense keys to success
Kasper’s teams aren’t the most exciting to watch – they employ a deliberate, slow-down, ball-movement offense and a smothering, fundamentally-sound, stingy defense (they lead the nation in scoring defense) – but his coaching style has resulted in seven 20-win seasons and he has twice taken teams into Norman and defeated Oklahoma from the Big 12 (including this season).
‘Jacks Top-Rated Texas University in CBS Basketball Poll
In the latest CBS College Basketball poll, which factors in Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) – a complicated formula that is primarily comprised of a team’s winning percentage against Division 1 opponents as well as the team’s opponents’ Division 1 winning percentage – and strength of schedule, the Lumberjacks are ranked 61st, ahead of heavyweights Baylor University (70th), 85th ranked Texas A&M (who beat the Lumberjacks by eight points in College Station this season), Texas-El Paso (104th), and Texas (115). SFA is also ranked ahead of Atlantic Coast Conference members’ Maryland and Virginia, St. John’s from the Big East Conference, and Alabama from the Southeastern Conference.
NCAA Tournament hopes most-likely rest on winning conference tournament
Despite this years’ remarkable won-loss record – after Thursday’s, March 7 win against Sam Houston State University, the ‘Jacks and top-ranked Gonzaga of the West Coast Conference are the only two of 347 Division 1 teams with three or fewer losses – If past history is any indicator, SFA’s only hope to make the NCAA tourney is by winning the SLC tournament: No SLC team has ever received an at-large bid.
Engel, Mac (March 3, 2013) Most Successful Coach in Texas Deserves a Shot. Fort Worth Star- Telegram