Northeastern State wins the opener 54-52 over Central Oklahoma. Next up for NSU will be Washburn, a 72-61 winner over Central Missouri. Emporia State and Tarleton set to tip off at 7:00, followed by WTAM and St Marys at around 9:30.
Lady Buffs focus on present
Texans ready for 'Madness' in Wichita Falls
By BRAD KEITH
With only two seniors on his roster and three players with NCAA Division II playoff experience, Tarleton State head men's basketball coach Lonn Reisman knows there will be some wide eyes on the faces of his young team when the Texans make the school's seventh tournament appearance this weekend.
Tarleton (23-7) is the No. 4 seed in the South Central Region and tips off regional tournament play against fifth-seeded Nebraska-Omaha (22-8) at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at D.L. Ligon Coliseum in Wichita Falls.
The winner faces either top-seeded host Midwestern State or eighth-seeded Incarnate Word in the semifinal round at7 p.m. Sunday. The championship is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The Texans are 12-6 all-time in the NCAA playoffs, all under Reisman. Tarleton won regional tournaments and advanced to the Elite Eight in 2005 and 2006.
Nebraska-Omaha has been to the playoffs 12 times and is 7-13 all-time. The Mavericks have never advanced past the second round.
It is Tarleton's seventh Division II tournament in the last nine years, but few of those past teams were as inexperienced as this group of Texans.
Only senior Effran Bryant, junior Wale Ogunoye and sophomore Warren Webb were around when Tarleton hosted the 2008 regional and won two games before seeing a 15-point lead evaporate down the stretch in a 77-76 loss to Lone Star Conference rival Central Oklahoma.
The Texans missed the regional in 2009.
"We have a very young team, and this is going to be a positive experience for those young kids," said Reisman. "We want this young team to experience playoff pressure because it will only benefit them in the future."
Reisman said earning the No. 4 seed with so many underclassmen is a special accomplishment.
"Being the four-seed is a blessing just like reaching the conference championship game last week was a blessing," he said. "When the season started I don't think many people believed we could achieve those feats with only two seniors."
Jeremiah Wilson, Tarleton's only senior besides Bryant, was a junior college transfer last year when the Texans missed the NCAA tournament for only the second time since their first trip in 2002.
That puts the leadership role this week squarely on the shoulders of Bryant, a 5-6 guard with a good outside shooting touch who made the all-tournament team in last week's LSC tourney.
"That's nothing new for Effran, he's been a leader for us all season and really most of last season," Reisman said. "He's a four-year letterman who has been a part of a lot of big games here, and he knows what to expect as far as the playoff atmosphere we will be faced with Saturday night."
Nebraska-Omaha has one four-year letterman in point guard Andrew Bridger. The Mavericks have three seniors, just one more than Tarleton. Like the Texans, they missed the tournament last year.
The Mavs, led by Tyler Bullock's 19.2 points per game, won an automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs when they captured the championship in last weekend's MIAA tournament.
Tarleton junior Devon Hills will be matched up with Bullock, a 6-2 guard. Reisman likes the matchup.
"Devon is long at 6-4, he's a very intelligent player and he's done a good job defensively for us all season," he said.
Defense has been the Texans' strong suit all season, topping the LSC and ranking fifth in the nation in points allowed at 58.6 points per game.
UNO relies more on offense, averaging 85.1 points per contest while surrendering 77.9.
"We definitely have contrasting styles," Reisman said. "We have to be ready defensively, especially in transition, and we have to run our offense and make them defend us when we have the ball."
Something in those contrasting styles has to give.
"They are playing very well right now," Reisman said of UNO. "We're playing pretty well, too, having reached the final in the LSC tournament last week. Both teams have more than 20 wins and like everyone else at this time of the year, we're both playing for our lives. It should be a great basketball game."
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Jefferson returns to Javelina Stadium
KINGSVILLE — It had been 15 years since James Jefferson strapped on shoulder pads and a helmet.
Taking one for his old team, but staying out of any trouble, the former Texas A&I All-American returned to the Javelina Stadium turf Thursday night. Now 48, Jefferson played in the secondary in approximately six series as the White outscored the Blue 20-19 in the finale of Texas A&M-Kingsville’s spring football workouts.
“It was fun. I sat and thought about it and I said, ‘Let’s try it, raise a little money,’ and it worked out,” said Jefferson, who was credited with one tackle. “I’m glad everybody chipped in and it was fun. I played corner so I could get out of the way. My knee’s going to be a little bit sore but it was OK.”