Sept. 27, 2013
RUSTON - Preparation for the upcoming season begins Saturday morning for head coach Michael White and the Louisiana Tech men's basketball team as the Bulldogs conduct their first official practice.
LA Tech opens up the regular season in just 42 days when they travel on Nov. 8 to face Saint Mary's, one of six opponents this year who went to the big dance last season.
Coach White returns for his third season at the helm and the Bulldogs return a whopping 11 players from last year's 27-win team, including its top three scorers, top rebounder, top shot blocker and top assist man.
Four regulars in the starting lineup in Raheem Appleby, Kenneth Smith, Michale Kyser and Cordarius Johnson are part of that experienced core who enters 2013-14 with new uniforms, a new court design in to play on and a new league to play in, but with the same goal - make the NCAA Tournament.
Appleby, a first team All-WAC member last season, enters his junior year just 48 points shy of becoming the 35th Bulldog to join the 1,000-point club. He led the team in scoring with an average of 14.9 points per game, registering 24 double-digit scoring games.
Smith, also a first team All-WAC selection and a member of the WAC All-Defensive team, averaged a team-best 5.0 assists per game, tallying 171 dishes. He also totaled 57 steals, breaking the sophomore record and finishing tied for fourth for the most steals ever in a single season.
Kyser was another member of the WAC All-Defensive team with the junior forward being a key centerpiece of the pressuring man-to-man defense the `Dogs love to run. The junior led the team in rebounding last season with an average of 5.3 boards per game and swatted 92 balls, setting the sophomore record and tying Willie Simmons (1984-85) for the most blocks ever by a Bulldog in a single season.
Also returning with plenty of game experience is senior guard Kenyon McNeail who has played in 99 career games as a Bulldog, including 56 starts. The sharp shooter tied the program record with nine made three-pointers in a single game, adding to his 136 career makes which ranks fourth.
Chris Anderson and Alex Hamilton gained valuable experience in their first year with LA Tech. Both returners came on strong midway through the season with the senior forward Anderson starting in 10 conference games and the sophomore guard Hamilton starting in the two NIT games.
Jaron Johnson is the fourth senior. The athletic guard saw action in all 34 games last season.
The lone newcomer on the team is freshman Leo Edwards from Detroit, Michigan. The forward was a member of the Class A state champions at Romulus High School, recording 13 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in the title game.
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