Cardinal Cadence Spring/Summer 2012

SOUTHLAND TOURNEY CHAMPS

2012 Championship TeamCards gather senior strength
to capture NCAA bid

Pat Knight began his Lamar coaching career with a bang in 2011-12, leading the Cardinals back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2000.

On their way to their sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament, the Cardinals rolled to the Southland Conference Tournament title, finished with a 23-12 overall record and won the Southland East Division crown with an 11-5 league record.

The Cardinals’ season came to an end in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in a First Four game from University of Dayton Arena against Vermont. While Knight was certainly hoping to advance further in the tournament, he was very proud of his firstever Lamar team.

“We won the division, went to the NCAA Tournament, and they haven't been to the NCAA Tournament since 2000,” said Knight after the loss to Vermont. “I think these guys did a heck of a job of leaving their legacy. These guys just made Lamar basketball relevant again. And it gives us something to build on from here on out, and it puts pressure on the team next year to get something done.

“These guys were a blast to coach all year long. It was fun and a heck of a ride. I enjoyed it, and I'm going to miss them. But these guys, boy, I'll be talking about them until the day I die, this group.”

Knight joined his father, the legendary Bob Knight, as the 13th father-son duo to coach a team to the NCAA Tournament. The elder Knight led Indiana and Texas Tech to a combined 28 NCAA Tournament appearances, including winning three national titles with the Hoosiers.

Lamar’s 23-12 record marks its highest win total since the 1983-84 team finished 26-5. It ties for the third-highest win total in school history and was a 10-game improvement over the previous season when the Cardinals finished with a 13-17 record. Next year’s team will have big shoes to fill, and not only because the Cardinals had such a terrific season in 2011-12. Lamar will be losing six seniors off this year’s team who were the key pieces to the team’s success. Lamar’s 2012 senior class of Brandon Davis, Charlie Harper, Mike James, Devon Lamb, Anthony Miles and Vincenzo Nelson accounted for 86 percent of Lamar’s scoring and 67 percent of its rebounds.

While the collective group is what led Lamar to its success, the individual play of three Cardinals earned them all-conference accolades. James, who led the Cardinals in scoring at 17.1 points per game, was a First-Team All-Southland Conference selection. Miles and Lamb each was named to the second-team after their outstanding seasons.

James played just two seasons at Lamar after transferring from Eastern Arizona College, but his name is etched in the Lamar record books after he scored a school record 52 points in a game as a junior. The 6-foot-1 guard hit 11 3-pointers in the contest against Louisiana College on his way to setting five Montagne Center records.

A Houston native, Miles closed out his impressive four-year tenure as the school’s all-time leader in games played with 126. He is seventh on Lamar’s all-time scoring list with 1,487 points and is the only player in school history with at least 1,400 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists. Lamb led Lamar with 10 doubledoubles on the year and posted per game averages of 12.1 points and a team-best 7.9 rebounds. What makes Lamb’s rebounding totals so impressive—he also led Lamar as a junior at 8.3 per game—is that he stands just over 6-foot.

The league recognized Davis in equally impressive fashion as he was named to the 2012 Southland Conference All-Academic First-Team. Lamar’s leading 3-point shooter during the past two seasons, Davis owns a 3.16 grade point average and graduated in May.

A point of emphasis for Knight has been putting together a tough preconference schedule to get his team ready for Southland play. He did just that in his first season as the Cardinals took on some of the nation’s best and were the only team in the country to face at least three teams that played in the NCAA Final Four.

Behind 29 points from James, Lamar played a tough game against eventual National Champion Kentucky before falling 86-64. The Cardinals also faced then No. 2 Ohio State and then No. 9 Louisville who went on to the Final Four.

Lamar’s scheduling paid off as the Cardinals were ready for the grind of the Southland Conference regular season. After missing the conference tournament for three straight years, Lamar won the East Division with an 11-5 record and was the three seed in the tournament.

Playing at the Merrell Center in Katy, Texas, Lamar opened the conference tournament with a 76-69 win over Northwestern State. The Cardinals then handed Stephen F. Austin a 55-44 loss in the semifinals before dismantling rival McNeese State 70-49 in the championship game. James was named the MVP of the Southland Conference Tournament, while Miles and Lamb joined him on the five-player all-tournament team.

Quick hits

The Lamar baseball team has four wins over Top 25 teams this year, including a 5-4 victory at No. 7 Rice.

The Lady Cardinal golf team won team titles at the Ladyjack Crown Classic and HBU Husky Invitational this year.

Junior Julie Aime was the individual medalist at the Ladyjack Crown Classic, picking up her second career victory.

With first-place finishes in cross country and golf, Lamar University earned the top spot in the Southland Conference Commissioner’s Cup Men’s All-Sport standings for its best finish since placing second in 2008.

Senior M.J. Daffue took home individual medalist honors at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate and the Border Olympics. He has four career individual titles.

Freshman Luke Jerling picked up his first collegiate win as he won the Wolfpack Spring Open.

Kalis Loyd of the Lamar University women’s basketball team was named a first-team All-Southland Conference selection for the second straight season. Loyd,

a junior from Malmoe, Sweden, led the Lady Cardinals in scoring (16.1 points per game), rebounding (6.4 per game), assists (84) and steals (64). She is the only player in program history to rank in the Top 10 in career points, rebounds, assists and steals.

Ang Green of the women’s basketball team was named a second team all-academic conference selection.

by Erik Cox

May 2012