Louisiana Tech Enters WAC Tourny as 4th Seed

There was a time in the season when Louisiana Tech looked like a bubble team for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

There were some nagging injuries down the stretch, but Louisiana Tech should be the same team it was when it had a 10-game winning streak through mid-January.

"It's really been a three-year process," third-year coach Kerry Rupp told NewOrleans.com at the time.

"What we wanted from the start was to come in here and lay the foundation to establish a good, solid program, do the right things on and off the court, and get the right guys in here."

Fatigue could be pointed to as a factor. Tech isn't deep, so the rotation has been short, even though the Bulldogs like to play fast to take advantage of the starters' athleticism. Four starters -- Kyle Gibson, Magnum Rolle, Jamel Guyton and DeAndre Brown -- averaged at least 31 minutes per game through the regular season.

The fifth starter -- Olu Ashaolu -- averaged nearly 28 minutes. Forward David Jackson has been the only reserve of note.

Perhaps the Bulldogs can find their legs again as it's now single-elimination mode in the WAC tournament. Tech finished the regular season at 22-9 overall and 9-7 in the WAC, earning a fourth seed for the league tourney.

That's not where Tech thought it would be when it was 17-2 overall and 5-0 in the WAC.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Late in the regular season, coach Kerry Rupp announced the dismissal of two players from the team -- sophomore guard Yonas Behre (who had appeared in 18 games as a deep backup) and freshman guard Trey Felder, who was redshirting.

--Four Louisiana Tech seniors are closing out their college careers. They are SG Kyle Gibson, SF Jamel Guyton, C Magnum Rolle and F David Jackson.

ON THE SPOT: G Kyle Gibson, the fourth-leading scorer in the WAC through the regular season with 19.1 points per game, has to be a big-time threat in the league tournament. He played only 18 minutes in the regular-season finale, going scoreless, after missing the previous two games because of an ankle injury. Tech doesn't have the depth to survive if Gibson is at much less than 100 percent.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's not enough to just play hard. You got to understand the game plan and can't give guys wide open three's. You just got to play smart and we didn't do that." -- Coach Kerry Rupp, after a season-ending loss at Fresno State.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL SEASON RECAP: Louisiana Tech was becoming a national story at one point, reaching 17-2 overall and receiving votes in the Top 25 polls. A BracketBusters win at Northeastern provided a nice late-season win on Feb. 20, but it didn't halt the team's slide to end the regular season. Still, with 22 victories heading into the WAC tournament, the Bulldogs should find themselves in one of the national postseason tournaments.

PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- PG DeAndre Brown, SG Kyle Gibson, SF Jamel Guyton, PF Olu Ashaolu, C Magnum Rolle. Key Subs -- F David Jackson, F Darius Redding, G Yonas Berhe, G Anson Bartlett.

GAME REVIEW: Louisiana Tech 60, Idaho 49 Fresno State 66, Louisiana Tech 59 Nevada 79, Louisiana Tech 68

GAME PREVIEW: vs. Fresno State, WAC quarterfinal (Reno, Nev.), Thursday, March 11 IN FOCUS: Tech just lost to Fresno State, but it didn't have Kyle Gibson and that game was in Fresno. Add Gibson back to the lineup and put the game on a neutral court, and Louisiana Tech likes its chances in the conference quarterfinals against the fifth-seeded Bulldogs. More problematic could be a potential semifinal against host Nevada, which defeated Tech 79-68 in Reno to end the regular season.

ROSTER REPORT:

--C Magnum Rolle had 22 points and 17 rebounds in the regular-season finale at Nevada. That marked his 11th double-double of the season. He led the WAC in the regular season with 2.2 blocks per game.

--G Kyle Gibson and C Magnum Rolle were selected second-team All-WAC.

--Freshman F Darius Redding scored 10 points in 15 minutes off the bench at Nevada, coming within one point of his career high.


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