Southeastern Louisiana Lions (24-8)
Location: Hammond, La.
Bid: Southland Conference champs
NCAA history: First appearance
Coach: Billy Kennedy, 80-92 in six seasons
About the Lions: Junior forward Ricky Woods averaged more than 17 points per game to earn Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year honors. Woods and 6-foot-10 center Nate Lofton, who the OSU coaching staff considered recruiting, were both first team All-Southland Conference selections... The Lions attempted just 104 three-pointers and made just 31 percent this season, both the fewest in the conference... The Lions averaged just 63.8 points per game (lowest in the conference) but allowed just 55.8 points (the best in the league)... Southeastern Louisiana was picked to finish fifth in the preseason conference polls but surprised everyone to finish 13-3 during the regular season and then won the conference tournament with 49-42 victory over Northwestern (La.) State this past Sunday.
Sutton on Southeastern Louisiana and some of the Lions' best players:
"(Southeastern Louisiana) plays the game just like Mr. Iba taught the game. Exactly," Sutton said. "They want a game in the 50s if they can possibly keep it there. If the game gets higher than that then it's certainly an advantage to the other ball club. We know their coach, Billy Kennedy. His dad was an outstanding coach in the New Orleans area, and he was really a disciple of Mr. Iba. And then Billy picked up that.
"They will shoot the ball quickly if they can in transition, if they get a shot. If not, they're going to try to shoot the ball with less than 5 to 10 seconds (left on the shot clock). So speeding up tempo will be a very important key to this ball club. They want to have a grinder. They want you to play a half-court game. We hope that our defense is active enough that we can speed the tempo up and maybe force some turnovers."
Southeastern Louisiana probable starters (stats)
C: 25 Nate Lofton (6-10, 250, Sr., 11.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 54.9 FG%)
F: 1 Ricky Woods (6-5, 200, Jr., 17.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 55.9 FG%)
G: 10 Terry Bryant (6-1, 170, So., 9.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 43.6 FG%)
G: 22 Chris Lee (6-3, 185, Jr., 2.9 ppg, 1.6 rpg)
G: 24 Jonathan Patton (6-2, 200, Sr., 11.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 72.9 FT%, 37.6 3FG%)
Southeastern Louisiana top reserves (stats)
F: 42 Jonathan Walker (6-8, 215, Jr., 5.8 ppg, 33.3 3FG%)
G: 13 Neill Berry (6-3, 195, Sr., 2.4 ppg, 26.4 3FG%)
G: 12 Scott Roniger (6-1, 185, Jr., 42.9 FG%)
"Their best players ... they have a young man by the name of (Ricky) Woods. He's a good rebounder. he's very athletic, and he's very good at driving the basketball.," Sutton continued. "(Nate) Lofton is a young man who played for one of my former coaches, Doc Sadler, who is now the head coach at UTEP, at Westark. We looked at him and just didn't feel like he was exactly what we were looking for. But he's a very good player. He's a big 6-10 ... just a big body and very good around the basket. He leads the team in assists. Then they have a guard, (Jonathan) Patton, who is a very good three-point shooter. He can really shoot the basketball.
"The team is very athletic. They play solid defense. They will play some zone. Like I said, they try to control the tempo as best they can. They have very good spacing on their offense, they try to spread the floor where it's hard to give help."
Eddie on Southeastern Louisiana
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