Head Coach Danny Kaspar is known for winning, and his track record proves it. Whether it be during his time at Incarnate Word, or Stephen F. Austin, his footprint has been tough defense, a methodical offense, and in the end the recipe has provided wins.
Monday evening, the Bobcats square off against UT-Tyler, hosting the Patriots for a 7 p.m. tip off from Strahan. It'll mark Coach Kaspar's third season at the helm of Texas State basketball, and expectations are growing for the program.
Last season Texas State, nearly doubled it's win total from his first season, finishing 14-17, and playing into the second round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. Add to that, the 'Cats lost 5 games by 6 points or less, and you can see why thoughts of potentially having an 18 or 19 win season are part of the team goals.
So far during fall camp, Texas State is running with the following group as it's starting five:
Ojai Black PG (Jr.) 6'1"
Ethan Montalvo SG (Sr.) 6'0"
Kavin Gilder-Tilbury SF (Jr.) 6'7"
Cameron Naylor PF (Sr.) 6'7"
Emani Gant PF (Sr.) 6'8"
Gant was selected by Sun Belt coaches as a Pre-Season 1st Team All Conference Selection. As a junior he finished averaging 13 & 7 a game. In his final year as a Bobcat, expectations are for him to be the anchor on the offensive end, and increase his production to make him average a double-double, night in and night out. He is expected to carry the 'Cats.
Shooting guard Ethan Montalvo will be the key to Texas State's long range game. As a junior he showed he could be streaky from behind the arc, but a solid off-season and fall camp have shown him being more consistent and accurate from deep.
Of the starting five, the player who has made great strides has been Ojai Black. He is only 1 of 2 bobcats that saw action in all 31 games last season, and after averaging 12 minutes a contest as a sophomore juco transfer, he looks ready to take the reigns of the Texas State offense. He's increased his strength and has shown the ability to attack the hoop, and finish.
Coaches have also been eyeing the improvement of Cameron Naylor and his potential to be a good compliment to Emani Gant, and be a double digit scorer in his own right. He started 16 games as a junior and averaged 8 pts and 5 rebs.
Texas State did sign 6 newcomers for the '15 class, 3 juco's and 3 freshman. Of the JC transfers, expect to see PF Maljhum McCrea (Jr.) and PG Bobby Conley (Jr.), be heavily involved off the bench. SG Anthony Roberson, only a sophomore, will have his shot at earning minutes for Coach Kaspar as well. If he can play solid defense, play smart ball and provide a scoring punch if needed, expect him to be a part of the "2 Deep."
Of the freshman, SG Courtney Julien, PG K.J. Malveau, and D'Angelo West, could all very well to see the floor, but minutes at the shooting guard spot will be tight with Montalvo, Roberson, and even Conley, all being able to play the two guard. Thus far in camp Conley has shown to have a solid shot beyond the 3-point line, and could be the extra shooter that the TXST offense needs.
Speaking of offense, the 'Cats will deploy the same offensive set, a "4 around 1" motion. A scheme that is predicated off the success of low post play and scoring. The offense will run through Emani Gant and his ability to finish down low, or make the pass to the open cutter or shooter.
Defensively, Coach Kaspar is always known for having a tough, pesky, defensive team. The Bobcats will continue to defend with a heavy dose of man to man.
In all, with a fairly easy non-conference schedule, it's completely within reason to see Texas State improve on their win total from last season. The early season match-ups are highlighted by a trip to UTEP, Washington State of the PAC-12, and the I-35 rivalry will continue with UTSA, but this year the 'Runners will travel to Strahan, for what is sure to be an intense game between long time rivals.