Posted 10/20/2011 9:52 PM E-mail | Print |
Western Athletic Conference Standings
W L W L
Nevada 0 0 8 3
New Mexico St. 0 0 7 4
Idaho 0 0 7 4
Louisiana Tech 0 0 6 5
Hawaii 0 0 5 4
Utah State 0 0 5 5
Fresno St. 0 0 4 8
San Jose St. 0 0 3 7
Louisiana Tech has a new coach who will add seven new players to the program. Chances are that 34-year-old Michael White, who was hired after spending the last seven years as an assistant at Ole Miss, will also instill a new attitude with the Ragin' Cajuns.
White succeeds Kerry Rupp, who was fired after going 57-69 overall and 20-42 in the WAC in four seasons.
With the roster overhaul and White learning on the job, Louisiana Tech was selected to finish last in the WAC in both the preseason coaches' and media polls. White, the son of Duke athletic director Kevin White, is only concerned about how his players believe in themselves and his up-tempo style of play.
"Even though we lost our top two scorers (DeAndre Brown and Olu Ashaolu) from last season, we will find offensive production and hope to be competitive as we implement a new style of play," White told reporters.
The Cajuns' top returner is forward Brandon Gibson, who played only half of last season because he blew out his knee four minutes into the first WAC game. Gibson (9.2 points and 5.1 rebounds a game last season) is one of three returning starters.
Kenyon McNeaill (8.7 points a game) gained valuable experience at point guard as a freshman. Romario Souza, the other returning starter, offers Louisiana Tech some size inside at 6-10, 245 pounds.
White brought two players with him from Ole Miss, including senior guard Trevor Gaskins, who is eligible immediately because he already earned his degree at Mississippi. Gaskins started the first 10 games for Ole Miss last season and averaged 11 points.
The other former Ole Miss player is Isaiah Massey, a freshman forward who redshirted last season. Massey is eligible because he did not play with Mississippi. White recruited Massey to Ole Miss, beating programs such as St. John's and South Florida.
--F Olu Ashaolu, 6-7, will play his senior season at Oregon immediately because he also has completed his undergraduate degree. Ashaolu averaged 14.2 points and 9.4 rebounds a game last season.
--One thing in Michael White's favor is the schedule. The only non-conference game of note is at Arkansas on Dec. 22. Louisiana Tech also has 15 home games this season, tied for the most in the last 10 years.
--The Ragin' Cajuns are clearly the youngest team in the WAC, featuring 10 players who are freshmen and sophomores. At least the three sophomores on the roster -- Kenyon McNeaill, Cordarius Johnson and Lonnie Smith -- all had extensive playing time last season.
LAST YEAR: 12-20 overall, 2-14 in the WAC
HEAD COACH: Michael White, first year as head coach
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Overall, we need to improve our team athleticism and our play making ability," White told the media in his first press conference. "We need to start recruiting guys to help us implement a new style of play. I'm inheriting a group that was recruited for a different style. I do like the kids we have." -- First-year Cajuns coach Michael White
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUP: PG Kenyan McNeaill, G Trevor Gaskins, F Brandon Gibson, F Cordarius Johnson, C Romario Souza.
LINEUP BREAKDOWN: The backcourt of McNeaill and Gaskins is not bad and both have some experience. Gibson, Johnson and Souza are also experienced but they were recruited to the program by the previous staff. White will undoubtedly mix and match to come up with a lineup by the time the WAC games start.
SCOUTING THE NEWCOMERS: The seven newcomers are headlined by Gaskins, who should ease the transition for White to becoming a head coach. Gaskins is familiar with White and the system he will implement. Isaiah Massey, another Ole Miss transfer, should see plenty of playing time because of his familiarity with White since he was in high school. Freshman post player Michale Kyser attended Christian Life Center Academy (Humble, Texas) for one year and averaged 15 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks a game.
--G Lonnie Smith can also be implemented into the starting lineup. He broke the school record for best three-point percentage by a freshman with a 39.8 mark (eighth best in the WAC), shattering the previous record of 30.5 percent set by Lonnie Cooper in 1995-96.
--G Darius Redding, who would be a junior, is not listed on the Ragin' Cajuns' roster. He played six games last year, starting three of them, before he was ruled academically eligible. Alex Carr, a freshman from Adamsville, Ala., is wearing Redding's No. 24 uniform.
--C Romario Souza must improve his production. He played in 28 games and started in 15 last year, averaging only 3.7 points and 2.7 rebounds in 15.4 minutes a game.