- Conference/Location: Southland (Beaumont, TX)
- 2016-2017 Record: 1-0 (Def. Howard Payne [DIII] on Nov. 11, 90-47)
- Head Coach: Tic Price (3rd Season)
- Top Performer: Josh Nzeakor (20.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG)
- Points For: 90.0 PPG (T-62nd)
- Points Against: 47.0 PPG (T-13th)
Coming off last year’s 11-19 season, head coach Tic Price will have to work his magic in his third season in Beaumont to help this Cardinals team outperform the expectations of being picked 12th in the Southland Conference Pre-Season Poll. With a cast of unheralded underclassmen, that task may be a bit easier said than done.
The Cardinals boast a line-up of mostly sophomores and juniors, headlined by sophomore forward Josh Nzeakor, junior swingman Colton Weisbrod and sophomore guard Nick Garth. In their season-opener, only two seniors, in guards Marcus Owens and Lincoln Davis, saw action for Lamar, combining for just two points. That being said, what the Cardinals may lack in experience, they sure aren’t missing in brashness and confidence.
Lamar may be just one game into this young season, (a 90-47 thrashing of Division III opponent Howard Payne) but already, the Cardinals have discovered some factors that will be crucial to their success. One of those is their free-wheeling style of play, that allowed a sometimes offensively-challenged team to hit the ninety-point plateau. If they can turn this one against Oregon State into a track-meet, there is the potential for the Cardinals to hang around in this one. However, if the Beavers can execute and put the pressure on Lamar in the half-court, head coach Wayne Tinkle and company could have one of their easier tune-up games of the season.
Keys To The Game
⇛ Keep Lamar As A Perimeter-Oriented Offensive Team
The Cardinals will play up-tempo and take their open shots when available, which was more than apparent in their season opening win over Howard Payne. However, the Cardinals also have a bit of “share the love” policy, that allowed 8 different players to attempt a three-point shot in their debut. Lamar connected on only 8 of their 25 three-point tries, with much help from Nick Garth’s 4-7 day from behind the arc.
⇛ Exploit Lamar’s “Non-Nzeakor” Interior Defensive Match-Up
It’s not a definite that Lamar forward Josh Nzeakor will match-up against Oregon State’s Tres Tinkle but it only takes one look down the Cardinals’ roster to see that natural size isn’t exactly one of their strengths. The Beavers need to utilize the advantage given by whichever forward Nzeakor doesn’t line-up against and keep pounding this Lamar team on the interior.
⇛ Put The Cardinals’ In Foul Trouble
Oregon State got to the free throw stripe 37 times in their 8 point win over UT-San Antonio and their renewed aggressiveness in the second half was one of the changes that erased an 8 point UT-San Antonio halftime lead. Depth is a great concern for the Cardinals, meaning putting key players in foul trouble could spell doom for Tic Price and company.
Player To Watch
Guard - Nick Garth (Sophomore)
It’s not often that a team’s returning leading scorer comes off the bench, but in the case of sophomore guard Nick Garth, his “Ginobili-esque” role for Lamar seems to be the position that fits him and his team, the best. Garth averaged 13.4 PPG a season ago for the Cardinals, while starting on the pine in 23 of the team’s 29 games. An explosive scorer, Garth looks to mesh better with the mix of starters and reserves with Lamar’s “1A” unit, while the sixth man role also keeps his early-game minutes down, preserving him for the rest of the contest. In the Cardinals’ season-opening win over Division III school Howard Payne, Garth played the most minutes (22) while also finishing the game as the team’s second leading scorer with 14 points on 4-7 shooting.