Arkansas State coach John Brady made a couple of comments recently about his Red Wolves basketball team that perhaps best explain this sudden revival of A-State hoops.
The Red Wolves, who have won five straight and six of seven, rallied to defeat UL-Lafayette 71-69 on Saturdaynight at the Convocation Center, just two days after clipping UL-Monroe 68-65 in overtime on the home floor. ULL and ULM are two of the better teams in the league. They rallied to win both games.
“What our team showed Thursday night, down six with a little over four minutes to go against ULM and win it in overtime, and then tonight down 13 with eight minutes to go and to come back and win this game shows a lot of character and toughness and resiliency,” said Brady. “We’ve developed some of the intangibles that flow through good teams. Everything that could have gone against us to start the second half did. We had pretty good shots, so, at timeouts we just told the team keep doing what you’re doing.”
The victories improved the Red Wolves to 8-7 overall and 4-0 in the league.
So with time to prepare for the ESPN3 game with Appalachian State (3-12 1-3) on Saturday at the Convocation Center, the Red Wolves are in good position to stay atop the Sun Belt standings with UALR and Texas-Arlington. They follow with a Monday home game vs. UALR.
“I told our team we are preparing for Saturday and nothing else,’’ said Brady.
Brady is doing his best to keep the team from thinking about Monday’s game with UALR.
“We are preparing for Saturday and if we win that then Monday should be really fun,’’ said junior forward Devin Carter on an interview with The Drive with Brad Bobo and Kara Richey.
The game with Monroe started a 7-game stretch where the Red Wolves will find out where they really stand in the Sun Belt pecking order. ULM and ULL were picked among the top teams in the league. ULL was named league favorite by the coaches in November.
“Only in the Sun Belt,’’ said Brady. “This is the only league that schedules like this.”
After the App State and UALR games the Red Wolves head to Texas to play at UTA (12-2, 3-0) and Texas State (7-5, 1-2) to conclude a four-game in seven-day stretch. And when A-State returns home, Georgia State (10-3, 3-1) waits on Jan. 28.
What started as a season of apathy among a lot of Red Wolves followers is has suddenly become a perfect scenario. The team is starting to win, no worries about John Brady’s future, an element that had fractured the fan base somewhat. Red Wolves fans faced similar circumstances in Dickey Nutt’s final seasons. Attendance has started to pick up with more than 2,000 being a season high vs. ULL.
“I’ve noticed more and more people coming out,’’ said Carter. “If we keep winning maybe we can fill up this place.”
Brady announced he would not seek a new contract and the end of the season when his current 3-year deal expires at the end of the season.
“I don’t know if winning in Alabama was the turning point of the season,’’ said Brady. “When we look back at the end it might be. But this team has started to come together, and trust each other and believe in each other.
“We are playing better on defense. Early in the year we had two teams shoot 40 free throws on us. Now teams are shooting 18.”