Dunkin’ Dogs Open Season at Home versus Patriots
Nov. 9, 2017
RUSTON – Louisiana Tech spent countless hours in the summer going through strength and conditioning and individual workouts, followed by 28 team practices and two closed scrimmages in the fall.
The much-anticipated wait for the 2017-18 season is now almost over as the Bulldogs get set to host UT Tyler on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. inside the Thomas Assembly Center.
The regular season opener can be seen with a paid subscription to CUSA.tv. Fans can listen to the “Voice of the Bulldogs” Dave Nitz and Jack Thigpen call the action on the LA Tech Sports Network on KXKZ 107.5 FM (Ruston) as well as on the Louisiana Tech X mobile app.
LA Tech, also known this year as Team 91, will begin its 91st season as a program. The Bulldogs return seven of their top nine scorers off the 23-win team last season, yet there is only one senior on this year’s roster.
“By age, by classification in school, we are a young team,” third-year head coach Eric Konkol said. “We have one senior, but we have a really good one in Jacobi Boykins. We have some upperclassmen that have increased their experience levels and their roles since they have been here at Louisiana Tech.
“And then we have some youth, particularly our sophomore class, that had a lot of experience last year. It is really about experience, but there are roles and age that comes into play here. That is what these early season games are for, to gain that experience together.”
Boykins is the centerpiece. The Preseason All-Conference USA selection was second on the squad in scoring last season with an average of 14.7 points per game. The lefty sharp-shooter also did plenty of damage on the defensive end, ranking first in the league with 2.0 steals per contest.
Another Preseason All-Conference USA selection was sophomore DaQuan Bracey. The point guard had zero issues adjusting to the speed of the college game. In fact, he was probably faster.
He started 27 games last season, averaging 8.9 points and a team-high 5.8 assists per game. What was the most impressive stat though for the Baltimore, Maryland native was his +3.51 assist/turnover ratio which ranked fourth in the country.
There are quite a few new faces though. Five newcomers to be exact – two junior college transfers and three freshmen.
With the potential of being the deepest team in the Konkol era, much of the team practices and the closed scrimmages were spent trying to see what lineups worked best together.
“We wanted to see a lot of different guys play individually and collectively,” Konkol said. “See what different groupings we can play at different times in the game. And then take a look at some of the thing in our strategies and our schemes that we are trying to get better at. When you play each other, you can be happy at the offense on one play and then mad at the defense. But when you play somebody else, you get to really evaluate how you are doing as a unit and that was important to us.”
The Patriots of UT Tyler are a Division III school that plays in the American Southwest Conference and are led by fifth-year head coach Jamon Copeland.
UT Tyler’s Melvin Anthony, Skyler Hadden and Emeka Obukwelu were named to the ASC Players to Watch list and the Patriots were picked third in the ASC East Division. They are coming off a 15-win season last year where they were led by the forward Anthony who registered 12.8 points and 7.8 boards per game.
Despite the two teams being separated by only 160 miles down Interstate 20, they have never faced off against one another on the hardwood. This will be the first ever meeting in the series.
The Bulldogs will look to extend a couple of home streaks – seven-game home winning streak and 10-game home opener winning streak.
Twitter users can receive live in-game updates by following @LATechHoops.
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