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Sam Houston Advances In College Tournament

By Cheval John

Sam Houston State rebounded from their Southland Conference Tournament Finals lost with a 87-71 win over the University of North Carolina-Wilmington last night during the first round of the College Tournament at Johnson Coliseum.

In the process, the Bearkats achieved their 26th win of the season, the most ever since they moved up to the NCAA Division I almost 30 years ago.

The Bearkats shot 43.8 percent from the field and shot 47.4 percent from behind the arc.

What is even better is that Sam Houston State shot 66.7 percent from the three point line in the first half.

Most of those treys in the first half came from Lithuanian national, Aurimas Majauskas.

Majauskas came off the bench and was the main reason why SHSU’s bench outscored UNC-Wilmington’s bench 38-8.

Majauskas led all scorers with 27 points.

The Seahawks (18-14) tied the matchup at 17 with 8:04 left in the first half after Addison Spruill, who finished with 11 points, made a layup in the paint.

That was as close as UNC-Wilmington got as Sam Houston exploded on a 14-2 run, which included an ally-hoop play from Jabari Peters to Michael Holyfield, to expand their lead to 31-19.

By halftime, the Bearkats was leading 46-25.

Holyfield finished the game with a double-double (10 points and 11 rebounds) while Peters had 11 points and 6 rebounds.

Sam Houston plays host to the University of Louisiana-Lafayette this Saturday in the second round of the College Insider Tournament.

UL-Lafayette brings a 21-13 record to this matchup and also former Bearkat coach Bob Marlin in facing his former assistant, current Sam Houston coach Jason Hooten.

Hooten will try to get his 100th win of his head coaching career in this contest.

Leveling Out The “Madness” In The NCAA

By Cheval John

Photo Courtesy of Naypong

Photo Courtesy of Naypong

It’s that time of year again as tonight begins March Madness.

This year’s NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament, which consists of 68 teams, will be very intriguing because of the fact that the University of Kentucky is trying to become the first undefeated team to win the national championship since 1976 when the University of Indiana won the championship undefeated.

Though the focus will be whether they will finish undefeated or suffer a loss at the worst time that can derail their hopes of a great season, I want to chat about how as always how this whole system works.

You might have noticed in my last blog post, “Choose Yourself In Order To Earn Attention For Your Talent,” I shared how the only way for teams from mid-majors and lesser known schools to gain the same exposure as the big named schools is if they are in the NCAA tourmanent.

The sad thing is that many schools who have mediocre records are in the tournament because they are in the top conferences (SEC, Big 12, Big 10, ACC, Pac 12) and they are perceived to have played a tougher schedule than the schools who are in lesser known conferences.

So if a school in a lesser known conference had a great season, won the regular season title and then lost in the tournament, they don’t have a chance to make the tournament.

I think that in any professional sports like the NBA, anyone can make the playoffs if they had a great record and are in the top 8 of their conference.

Except for the NCAA.

If you are not in the big five conference, possibly a few mid-majors or a school like Gonzaga who have made 16 consecutive NCAA Tournaments and have given the chance for the West Coast Conference to have other at-large bid teams, then you have no shot.

Merit does not rule in most NCAA sports like football, basketball and baseball.

I suspect that the name of the game for these tournaments is money.

Of course the big name schools like the University of Texas, Notre Dame, etc. has a large fan and alumni base.

So if they are many big name schools in the tournament, that gives the NCAA a better chance to make more money because it has a bigger draw to television viewers.

It is a big reason why they are in the midst of a 14 year, near 11 billion deal with CBS/Turner Broadcasting to showcase the men’s basketball tournament.

That means the NCAA has to put out a great showcase of top talent every year in order to prove to CBS/Turner that they made the right decision to spend all of that money for them to be the exclusive home of the tournament.

Of course, many mid-majors and lesser known schools have to compete every year with the big name schools and also schedule to play these big name schools even if they are going to lose.

Not just because they want to make their team tougher, but it helps to possibly improve their Rating Percentage Index (RPI), which is one of the metrics that the NCAA selection committee uses to choose the teams who will be in the tournament.

So even if a team have a mediocre record like a 18-12 or 17-11, etc., if they are in one of the Big 5 conferences, they have a much better chance to make the national tournament even if they did not win their respective conference tournament.

It is unlikely that the system for selecting teams in the NCAA tournaments will change anytime soon.

All of what the teams in the lesser conferences can do to make the big dance is to win their respective conference tournament, schedule tougher non-conference teams in the Big 5 conferences, or advance in the tournament like Gonzaga has done in order to show the nation that their conference is not as easy as they think it is.

Perhaps, this will level out the playing field of collegiate basketball at the Division I level.

What are your thoughts on the way the NCAA basketball tournament is run? You can leave your comment below.

5:13 Seconds That Led To Second Championship For Stephen F. Austin

By Cheval John

KATY, TEXAS-When Sam Houston State narrowly defeated Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 70-67 on Friday night to advance to the finals of the Southland Conference (SLC) Men’s Basketball Tournament, they shot 20% from the field in the first half.

The Bearkats, who were the No.2 seed, had to play near perfect basketball if they wanted to defeat their arch-rival and No.1 seeded Stephen F. Austin.

Unfortunately, the Bearkats was not able to meet the challenge of playing near perfect basketball as horrendous shooting in the closing minutes of the first half led to the Lumberjacks pulling away with an 83-70 victory to claim their second consecutive SLC tournament championship and clinched an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

In the process, Stephen F. Austin (29-4 overall) became the second team to repeat as SLC tournament champions since former conference member, the University of Louisiana at Monroe, won four straight tournament titles (1990-93).

After a back and forth matchup in which Sam Houston State took a 25-24 lead on Kaheem Ransom’s three pointer, things started to fall apart in the final 5:13 of the first half.

The Bearkats (25-8 overall) missed shots and turned the basketball over while the Lumberjacks capitalized with a 13-2 spurt to close out the half with a 37-27 lead.

The dagger that shut Sam Houston’s coffin during that run happened with 02.5 seconds when the Lumberjacks inbounded the basketball and found Tanner Clayton, who hit a buzzer-beating trey from 40 feet.

Sam Houston shot 30 percent from the field in the first half and finished the game shooting 36.1 percent from the field.

The Bearkats also shot 15 percent from three point range.

Lumberjack basketball player, Thomas Walkup, who won the tournament MVP, led all scorers with 24 points and 8 rebounds.

Bearkat senior Michael Holyfield, who made the all-tournament team, led SHSU with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Stephen F. Austin will find out later today who they will face in the opening round of the NCAA tournament on Selection Sunday that will air on CBS starting at 6 p.m. eastern, 5 p.m. central.

The Bearkats also have a strong possibility to make a post-season as well, but not the NCAAs.

No.8 Houston Baptist In SLC Finals After Upset Win Over SFA

By Cheval John

Photo Courtesy of Erik Williams

Photo Courtesy of Erik Williams

When Houston Baptist and Stephen F. Austin met each other twice in the regular season, the Lumberjacks won both of those contests.

Both teams had a date with destiny for the third meeting in the Southland Conference (SLC) Women’s Basketball Tournament semifinals today at the Leonard Merrell Center in Katy, Texas.

The Huskies, who were the No.8 seed, reached the semifinals with two upsets wins over No.5 McNeese State and No.4 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi while the No.1 seeded, Stephen F. Austin, had a double-bye into the semifinals after finishing the regular season in the top 2 spots in the league.

It should have been an easy road for the Lady Jacks to make the finals.

Instead, the Huskies pulled off the upset with an 88-81 win that put them in the finals of the tournament.

It is the first time in the history of the SLC tournament that a No.8 seed has made an appearance in the finals.

The Lady Jacks (23-7), who will receive an automatic invitation in the Women’s National Invitation Tourmanent (WNIT) because of winning the SLC regular season title, had at one point an 18 point lead at 30-12 at the 8:37 mark in the first half.

However, the Huskies chipped away with a 9-0 run to make it 30-20 courtesy of a jumper by Tayler Jefferson and consecutive treys by Heidi Sihvola.

By half time, the Lumberjacks were hanging on to a 41-37 lead.

The Huskies kept chipping away before they were able to regain the lead at 70-68 when Monet Neal, who finished with 9 points, made a layup and was fouled in the process, which allowed her to go to the line and complete the three point play.

Both teams went back and forth in the next three minutes that tied the game up again at 76 with 2:07 left in the game.

Then the Huskies scored four straight points to make it 80-76 with 44 seconds left thanks to layups by Anna Strickland and Rachel Arthur.

Stephen F. Austin made it more interesting as they pulled within a 80-79 lead courtesy of a three pointer by Tierany Henderson with 36 seconds left.

The Huskies sanked two free throws to extend the lead to 82-79 and the Lumberjacks cut the lead again to 82-81 on bucket by Brittney Mathew with 15 seconds left.

After two made free throws again to extend the lead to 84-81, the Lumberjacks tried to tie the game.

However, Mathew was called for the offensive foul and the Huskies iced the game with four straight free throws and a chance to become the second team in their school history to advance to the NCAA tournament (Huskies soccer team advanced to NCAA’s tournament in the fall of last year).

They will face No.6 seed Northwestern State, who defeated No.2 Lamar 70-64 in overtime.

Choose Yourself In Order To Earn Attention For Your Talent

By Cheval John

Photo Courtesy of Tigger 11th

Photo Courtesy of Tigger 11th

As we are almost in the middle of March, most of the U.S. are anticipating the NCAA Division I basketball tournament, which is dubbed as “March Madness.”

This week, teams are vying for a chance to make this prestigious tournament and have an opportunity to showcase their talent in front of a national television audience.

Let me rephrase that, teams who are normally not featured almost regularly on national media outlets like their counterparts in the top conferences (ACC, Big 12, SEC, Pac 12, Big East).

The only way these “unknowns” have the same opportunity to showcase their talents on national television is if they are in the finals of their respective conference tournaments and if the winner is playing in the national tournament.

Now things have kind of changed in recent years with the “unknowns” getting some television coverage during the regular season.

Before, a person would only know of the big name schools like Texas A&M, Florida State, the University of Florida, the University of Texas, etc. because their teams would always receive constant television coverage.

You could say that collegiate sports have always been the best marketing tactics to gain exposure for their respective schools.

Others would say that it a particular degree programs or world class teachers that allowed their institution to gain either national attention or world-wide attention.

The truth of the matter is that collegiate sports is the reason why universities are gaining national exposure.

And prospective students would always dream of going to the big name schools because they want to be part of the attention that the schools are receiving.

And the branded schools would be able to recruit the 5-star athletes because they have the capabilities of helping them reach the professional sports levels like the NFL and the NBA.

So the not-so branded schools like Davidson, Sam Houston State, McNeese State, Stephen F. Austin, etc., were at a disadvantage because they could not recruit the 5-star athlete and also gain the best and brightest students in the world (the exception of gaining the brightest students are the Ivy League schools like Harvard and Princeton).

The lesser known conferences would at times gain national attention if their schools made a national tournament (mainly the NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament, the College World Series and in football, the Divison I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs).

In this day and age, the playing field have been leveled to a large degree for all universities.

Some of the mid-major conferences made deals with television networks like ESPN and Fox Sports to broadcast their games on television.

While conferences of the “lesser known schools” in the words of James Altucher, “choose themselves”* and create their own television networks to showcase their athletes. term paraprhased*

One of the conferences who “choose themselves” was the Southland Conference.

They have always found a way to remain competitive in the midst of realignments of schools in their now 51st year of operation.

However, they went to another level under the direction of commissioner Tom Burnett.

With his leadership, the conference decided to create the Southland Conference Television Network in 2008 to showcase their member school’s athletes (regular season, football, basketball and in tournament time, all of the sports teams) via television affiliates to about 13 million viewers in the states of Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.

If the Southland did not choose themselves, then the nation would not have been able to see former Sam Houston State running back, Timothy Flanders flipped over the defender and landed in the endzone for the touchdown.

And because the Southland choose themselves, they have earned the attention of national media outlets to where their members’ regular season football games and basketball games are now broadcast live nationally on ESPN3 in addition to their network.

The lesson that can be learned from this is that if you want to gain your dream job, but you are not “qualified” for the job, then you have to create your own opportunities to succeed.

Most of the time, job seekers just send in their resumes and hoping that someone will call them in for an interview with the possibility to work at their company.

Instead of waiting and hoping for that call after putting in the resume, be proactive.

You can do internships to get your foot in the door, attend networking events, etc.

From there, you can share your knowledge and the lessons from the work experience you gained either with your own blog, a podcast, or YouTube channel.

When you do the above, nine times out of ten, you will have a much better chance to gain your dream job.

In the case of podcasting, you can interview anyone who are in the industry that you want to work in like public relations and share their story of success with your audience.

I can guarantee you the most busy professionals will say yes to the opportunities to be on your show because they see the opportunity to promoting themselves and their companies without spending a whole lot of money for marketing.

In conclusion, do not wait for someone to validate your talent or expertise because you will probably be waiting forever.

Instead, create your own opportunities by blogging, podcasting, etc and prove to the prospective employers that you are very knowledgeable in your chosen career field.

Over time, you will gain the recognition and even earn your dream job with the company you always wanted to work for.

Video courtesy of the Southland Conference Digital Network