Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks
2012-2013 Overall Rank: #115
Conference Rank: #1 Southland
Stephen F. Austin Team Page
Stephen F. Austin wins games with defense and this is a group that will play stellar defense for 40 minutes every game. Coach Danny Kaspar has the depth to play nine or ten deep again this year and that is always difficult for the opposition. Even more talented teams will be worn down by the Lumberjacks sooner or later. The Southland Conference got a little tougher with the addition of Oral Roberts, but SFA is a tough nut to crack. It will all come down to the offense and if this team can score enough points on a consistent basis to beat the teams they should beat.
2011-12 Record: 20-12, 12-4
2011-12 Postseason: None
Coach: Danny Kaspar
Coach Record: 219-136 at Stephen F. Austin, 219-136 overall
And scoring points could prove problematic without center Jereal Scott. This is not a good shooting team, but the presence of Scott in the paint did give the few shooters on the team some open looks. Scott led SFA with 12.4 points per game and added 5.4 rebounds. He was only 6-7, but he was a decent presence in the paint, especially on the offensive end. Fellow forward Jonathan King is also gone. He looked more like a wing than a forward at 6-5, but he would do the dirty work in the paint. Losing Scott is big, but losing point guard Darius Gardner is bigger. Gardner was never much of a scorer, but he took care of the ball. For a team that is not going up and down the floor in a hurry, every possession counts and Gardner at least would not throw those possessions away.
Coach Kaspar did a fine job filling the needs of this team. They need a couple big bodies, a point guard or two and somebody who can shoot the ball. Nick Cates redshirted last season to add some bulk to his 6-10 frame. He now weighs in at 240 pounds and is physically ready to battle in the paint. Ice Asortse should make a bigger impact for now though. The 6-8 junior college transfer could be starting from day one. He will not likely replace the scoring output of Scott, but he is a better rebounder and a stronger presence in the paint on both ends of the floor. Nikola Gajic is a big 6-5 wing who can score in bunches. The Lumberjacks hope he can emerge as a shooter, but he also has the size and strength to attack the basket. DeShaunt Walker could run the point, but for now he will likely spend most of his time off the ball. He is not a great shooter, but he is capable of knocking down the long ball. His experience at the junior college level and his leadership could prove very important to this team. Thomas Walkup, a redshirt freshman, will add more depth to the shooting guard position. The new point guards are junior college transfer Jared Harrison and the lone incoming freshman, Trey Pinkney. Harrison, unlike the departing Gardner, is a point guard who can score and SFA needs all the scorers they can get on the floor.
Who to Watch:
Just about all of the newcomers will battle for significant playing time, but this is a team that returns six major contributors. For now the starting jobs are theirs to lose. Hal Bateman was the backup point guard last season and the 5-11 senior is more than capable of running the show as a starter. He is not a shooter, but he can do some scoring around the basket. Antonio Bostic can do a little bit of everything and a lot of scoring. He averaged 11.3 points per game as a junior and added 4.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals. Bostic is only 6-2, so he really needs to stay at the shooting guard spot for defensive reasons. Unfortunately, he is not a shooter; he is a scorer. Desmond Haymon has a little more size and spent last season on the wing beside Bostic. Haymon did connect on more three-pointers than anybody else on the team last year, but he only knocked down 26.4 percent of his attempts. Haymon is a good rebounder on the wing however and a decent slasher. Yet, if one of the newcomers turns into a consistent shooter, Haymon may be relegated to the bench a little more often than he was last season.
Like the backcourt, the frontcourt has options, although most are less experienced. Taylor Smith averaged less than 20 minutes per game last season, but still ranked third on the team with 9.2 points per game and led the Lumberjacks with 6.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per contest. Smith, at 6-6 and 215 pounds, is not the most intimidating presence on either end of the floor, but he gets the job done. With more playing time likely headed his way, Smith could put up some big numbers for his senior season. Forwards Jacob Parker and Joe Bright do not bring any more size to the table, but both started a handful of games last season. Parker, a 6-6 sophomore, is a decent all-around forward who can do some passing and will always work hard on the glass. If he can improve his decision making and take smart shots, or maybe fewer shots, Parker could find himself in a starting role. But the newcomers will have something to say about that and Coach Kaspar will spend some time early in the year figuring out what works best for this team. Coach Kaspar has been down this road before. It will not be the first time he injects quite a few junior college transfers into a roster that returns some quality players. The important thing is this team has a lot more experience than it appears and the overall team depth should be very good barring any surprises. That is what Stephen F. Austin needs to play suffocating defense and win the Southland title. But a shooter would not hurt either.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Hal Bateman, Senior, Guard, 4.1 points per game
Antonio Bostic, Senior, Guard, 11.3 points per game
Desmond Haymon, Junior, Guard, 8.2 points per game
Jacob Parker, Sophomore, Forward, 1.9 points per game
Taylor Smith, Senior, Forward, 9.2 points per game