Another Season, More History Made


 

 

April 8, 2014

RUSTON - As the 2013-14 college basketball season officially came to a close last night, teams are already gearing up for offseason workouts in preparation for the next season.

But before players get back to pumping iron in the weight room and sweating through individual drills on the court, many will be reflecting on what was and what could have been.

For Louisiana Tech, what could have been was something that has eluded the program for the past 23 years - a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

The Bulldogs got so close they could envision the ear-to-ear smiles on their faces as their team was called during Selection Sunday.

They were leading Tulsa, 51-50, with 6:30 to go in the Conference USA title game, but the Golden Hurricane went on a 7-0 run and never looked back as they ended what was the only goal for LA Tech.

"We will have a chance to be very competitive in C-USA again next year," said head coach Michael White. "Of course, several factors will determine our level of success. Our young bench may be the biggest factor, in terms of how quickly they can contribute."

It could be assumed that an NCAA Tournament appearance could be the only thing to trump the previous year which was highlighted by 27 wins, a Western Athletic Conference regular season title, an AP top 25 ranking, an 18-game winning streak and a second round appearance in the National Invitation Tournament.

However, LA Tech managed to match and, in some cases, even eclipse the 2012-13 season.

The `Dogs racked up 29 wins, tying the program record, and in the process won another conference regular season title, this time as a member of C-USA, and advanced to the NIT quarterfinals for just the second time in the school's history.

Two highlight wins of the 29 came on the road against Oklahoma, the second place finisher in the Big 12, and against Georgia, the second place finisher in the SEC.

 

 

There were also 10 other single season records tied or broken by the team, as well as individual records shattered by Kenyon McNeail for three-pointers made and attempted, Kenneth Smith for steals and assists and Michale Kyser for blocks.

LA Tech also had three players - Raheem Appleby, Cordarius Johnson and McNeail - reach 1,000 career points.

"Winning at Oklahoma and winning a share of the C-USA Championship, as well as winning two games in the NIT were all significant achievements," said White. "We were better than a year ago. Not only was C-USA a better league than the WAC, but we also won on the road at two BCS schools.

"All of the individual accomplishments and honors that our players garnered further exemplified how special this season was."

Next season, the team will look very different in some ways and very similar in others.

The Bulldogs return a stellar backcourt which features not one, not two but three all-conference guards.

Throw in a fourth starter in Michale Kyser, one of the best shot blockers in the country, and a star-studded recruiting class and you still have the makings of a team that has that singular goal - a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

For complete coverage of Bulldog Basketball, please follow @LATechHoops on Twitter or visit the official website of Louisiana Tech Athletics at www.LATechSports.com.