White is Alright

Louisiana Tech (8-7) takes on New Mexico State (10-5) in the WAC opener for both teams. The Aggies have won five of their last six, including a 73-72 road win against Cal-State Bakersfield on Monday. Louisiana Tech will play their first three WAC games at home as Idaho and Utah State visit next week.

First Year Head Coach Mike White has his young team ahead of schedule going into conference play. He has 9 players averaging 15 or more minutes per game, including three freshmen and two sophomores.

The three freshmen, Kenneth Smith, Raheem Appleby, and Michale Kyser have been the biggest surprises so far. Appleby is averaing 16.67 in 29.9 minutes over the last 9 games. The 6'2" guard has hit several big shots in key situations. Smith is second on the team in minutes with 24.6 and leads the team with 4.1 assists per game to go with 4.1 points per game. Kyser leads the team with 2.4 blocks per game in just 15 minutes.

Veterans Trevor Gaskins and Brandon Gibson have been steady, with Gibson coming on strong recently. The 6'5" Florida native scored 14 recently against Northeastern and he led the Bulldogs in their last game with 22 against SMU.

The future is bright with the three outstanding freshmen, and three sophomores have also played well. Cordarius Johnson is third on the team in scoring at 110.1 points per game. Kenyon McNeaill is fourth in scoring and second in assists. McNeaill had 9 points and 8 asists recently against McNeese State.

With freshman Isaiah Massey coming back next month, and two very good signees in Demetrius Moore and three star guard Alex Hamilton, Coach White will have plenty of options at his disposal.

The Bulldogs were not picked to finish very high in the WAC standings, but after their first 15 games, the young guys are showing that they are better than anyone expected. They play aggressive defense and really get up the floor in a hurry. Kenneth "Speedy" Smith puts pressure on the other team to get back on defense because he can get from free throw line to free throw line in the blink of an eye. That's the thing about this team; they keep the foot on the gas the entire game. If the shots aren't falling, they just keep shooting and keep pressing. The ball will eventually bounce their way, the shots will start falling, and deficits can disappear in a hurry.

Maybe President Obama should contact Coach White about the national budget deficit, because no lead is safe when you're playing his Bulldogs.

White has done a great job getting the most out of his player's abilities. Kyser isn't the heaviest big man on the court, but he is extremely effective at blocking shots and heading the press on defense. Smith isn't the best shooter, but he can really fly. Centers J.L. Lewis and Romario Souza struggled at times last year in the first action as Bulldogs. White and his staff have maximized the minutes they get from Lewis and Souza, and the two big men look like totally new and confident players.

The Bulldogs may not challenge for the WAC crown this year, but I wouldn't put anything past them. They will make it interesting at the very least and show that this program is it for the long haul. You won't want to miss the second half of the season at the Thomas Assembly Center. These guys are exciting and they don't stop playing hard. There have been some exciting finishes already and more are sure to come. Don't miss it.

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