Feb. 28, 2013
RUSTON - The Southland Conference, as part of its year-long 50th Anniversary commemoration, has announced its 1970s and 1980s All-Decade Men's Basketball teams which includes 10 former Louisiana Tech greats.
A total of 20 student-athletes were selected for each decade, and four Bulldogs made the list for the 1970s All-Decade Team in Mike Green, Victor King, Mike McConathy and Lawrence "Lanky" Wells.
Under the guidance of coach Scotty Robertson and behind the play of Mike Green, LA Tech opened its first season in the Southland Conference in 1971-72 with a bang by picking up the school's fifth 20-win season with a 23-3 mark.
Green returned for his senior season in 1972-73 and helped lead the Bulldogs to an 18-8 record while averaging a school record 30.9 points per game. His efforts that season earned him the AP Player of the Year honors and first team All-American status to go along with being named twice to the All-Southland Conference team.
The 6-foot-10-inch center from McComb, Miss. ended his Bulldog career having scored 2,340 points and 1,575 rebounds, records that still stand today, before being selected as the fourth overall player in the 1973 NBA draft.
The following season came the likes of guard Mike McConathy from Bossier City, La. and forward Lanky Wells from Little Rock, Ark.
In 1975, under second-year head coach Emmett Hendricks, LA Tech claimed its second Southland Conference championship behind the leadership of McConathy and Wells.
McConathy finished his career as a three-time All-Southland Conference selection as well as being named honorable mention All-American and finished his Bulldog career second in points scored with 2,033, behind only Mike Green.
Both McConathy and Green also earned Southland Conference Player of the Year honors.
Wells was a three-time All-Southland Conference selection, averaging 16.4 points per game with a total of 1,608 points scored along with 6.9 rebounds per game in his Bulldog career.
Victor King, a 6-foot-9-inch center from Newellton, La., carried the Bulldogs after the departures of McConathy and Wells.
The 1978-79 proved to be the second biggest turnaround in school history, finishing the season 17-8, an 11-game difference over the previous season.
In 1979, one of the most successful coaches in the school's history took over the program and that was coach Andy Russo who was honored as Co-Coach of the Decade for the 1980s, along with his Bulldog players chosen to the 1980s All-Decade Team in Robert Godbolt, Karl Malone, Dave Simmons, Willie Simmons and Wayne Smith.
Russo guided LA Tech for the next six seasons, winning 69 percent of his games and claiming the 1984 Southland Tournament championship and the 1985 regular season and tournament titles.
The head coach took the Bulldogs to new heights during those two seasons. During the 1983-84 season, he guided the team to a 26-7 record and a berth into the NCAA Tournament. LA Tech defeated Fresno State in the first round before falling to Houston 77-69.
However, the 1984-85 season went down as the greatest in Bulldog history, notching a 29-3 record, and being ranked as high as No. 7 in the nation before advancing all the way to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament before dropping a heartbreaking 86-84 overtime loss to No. 1 seed Oklahoma.
The five players represented by LA Tech during the 1980s all played a huge part in the success of these Bulldog teams.
Malone, a 6-foot-9-inch forward, was a three-time all-conference choice who also took home the 1983 Southland Player and Freshman of the Year honors while also being named three-time All-American. The Summerfield, La. native went on to be drafted in the first round of the NBA draft by the Utah Jazz.
Willie Simmons, a 6-foot-11-inch center out of New Orleans, La., was named all-conference in 1984-85, eclipsing the 1,000 point mark that season and currently holds the career blocks record with 268 blocked shots.
Also from Shreveport was Wayne Smith, a 6-foot-4-inch guard, who was chosen to the all-conference team twice and is the career leader in assists with 712 and second in steals with 185.
Robert Godbolt, a 6-foot-5-inch forward all the way from Detroit, Mich., was twice named to the all-conference team. He led the Bulldogs to 20-win seasons during both his junior and senior year while also leading the team in scoring.
Prior to the Dunkin' Dogs being formed, Dave Simmons was a three-time selection to the all-conference team from 1979-1981 under coach Russo. The 6-foot-2-inch guard from DeRidder, La. ranks 12th on the all-time scoring list with 1,563 points.
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