Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks
Southland (24-7, 13-3)
Big Wins: 12/12 vs North Dakota State (112-111), 12/19 vs Austin Peay (93-54), 2/28 at Texas A&M Corpus Christi (71-66)
Bad Losses: 11/25 at Louisiana Monroe (58-60), 1/21 at Texas Arlington (52-67), 2/14 at McNeese State (59-56)
Last NCAA Appearance: none
Coach: Danny Kaspar (First NCAA appearance)
Eric Bell, Junior, Guard, 3.6 ppg, 3.6 apg
Girod Adams, Junior, Guard, 5.4 ppg, 1.5 apg
Josh Alexander, Senior, Forward, 14.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg
Nick Shaw, Senior, Forward, 6.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg
Matt Kingsley, Senior, Forward, 16.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.3 bpg
Benson Akpan, Senior, Forward, 5.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg
Walt Harris, Junior, Guard, 3.9 ppg
Eddie Williams, Sophomore, Guard, 7.6 ppg, 2.6 apg
Why They Can Surprise:
Stephen F. Austin had another great showing in the Southland Conference due to their tough defense. Only Washington State allows fewer points per game than the Lumberjacks and Coach Danny Kasper’s squad only allows the opposition to shoot a mere 37.2 percent from the floor. The low point total is in part due to the rebounding presence at SFA. When the opposition finally gets a shot off, you can be sure the Lumberjacks will not make it easy for them to get another opportunity any time soon.
The frontcourt trio of Josh Alexander, Nick Shaw and Matt Kingsley do a great job of crashing the boards. Alexander, who is an undersized 6-4 forward, is also a superb shooter and a dynamic scorer. He will hit over two long balls per contest and also use his size to get to the basket. Shaw is not as effective of a scorer, but he can stretch the defense with his outside shooting. Kingsley has turned into one of the most efficient big men in the nation and leads the team in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots. At 6-9 and 225 pounds, Kingsley has the body to be a force in the paint against teams that sport bigger centers than he usually saw in the Southland Conference.
Why They Can Disappoint:
If SFA begins to slip behind in a game, they usually have a difficult time coming back. The team as a whole does not make, or shoot, a lot of three pointers. Alexander is pretty much the lone outside shooting threat. Eddie Williams is the usual starter at the two guard spot and he is certainly not a shooter. In fact, he struggled late in the season and lost his starting job for a while. Girod Adams did an admirable job trying to replace him, and is definitely a more consistent outside shooter, but that weapon may be better utilized to spark the offense off of the bench.
Who To Watch:
The other advantage of Adams’ game is his ability to handle the ball. When he is on the floor with point guard Eric Bell, a team that rarely turns the ball over anyway, is even more efficient. Bell, a 5-3 junior, had a slow start to the year due to an injury, but he is back in full force now. His tenacious defense and ability to find his way through the big guys make him a very effective player despite his diminutive stature. Bell will have a difficult time finishing around the basket because of his size and he rarely scores many points, but he will hit the occasional outside shot when necessary.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 66.3 (197th in nation, 9th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 55.8 (2, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.3 (142, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 37.2 (3, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.6 (226, 7)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 31.8 (234, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 63.5 (301, 11)
Rebound Margin: 1.2 (151, 9)
Assists Per Game: 13.2 (155, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.5 (46, 1)
Joel’s Bracket Says: First Round loss to Syracuse