Grizzlies to face Texas-sized challenge after 12-day lay-off
ASC to play at Tarleton State for first time, Thursday night
STEPHENVILLE, Texas— The Adams State College men’s basketball team will return to the floor for the first time in 12 days when they take on Tarleton State University, Thursday night here at Texans’ Wisdom Gym.
Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m. (CST) and can be heard live on KSPK-FM (104.1 in Alamosa) and via the internet at www.kspk.com. Live statistics and video coverage of the game can also be found on TSU’s website.
Second-year coach Mark Murdock and his Grizzlies enter the game, their first since Nov. 22, with a 2-2 record. The Texans are 4-2 thus far in the season but have lost their last two games while falling out of the National Association of Basketball Coaches Division II Poll.
Veteran coach Lonn Reisman and his Texans were ranked 14th in the nation last week but fell 85-67 at home to Texas A&M Commerce last Tuesday before dropping an 88-70 road decision at St. Edward’s last Saturday.
Reisman’s squad advanced to the South Central Regional Championship game last year but he returns just one starter from that team that went 25-7 in 2007-08.
That man is 6-foot-6 senior forward Eric Williams who averaged in double figures last year and is pacing this year’s Texan squad with his 14.5 point per game average. He tallied 24 points and nine rebounds in the loss to Texas A&M-Commerce and had an 11-point, 11-rebound double-double effort in the loss to St. Edward’s, now receiving votes in the NABC Poll.
The Grizzlies’ last opponent— Cal State-Dominguez Hills— is also receiving votes in the poll, a slight bit of solace Murdock and the Grizzlies can take into Thursday’s game.
The Grizzlies were embarrassed by the Toros, 83-58, in the final game of the Adams State Bankers Classic. Although the Grizzlies have not faced an opposition since then, they have nearly two full weeks of practice and rest.
The Grizzlies, who Murdock says are playing well defensively, have struggled to consistently score thus far in the season. However, they do have three players averaging in double figures, including senior Sean Amos (Philadelphia, Pa.), who is pouring in 16.0 points per game.
Sophomore Seth Heinbaugh (Prescott, Ariz.) is not far behind averaging 13.8 points per game. He also paces the team with his 8.5 rebounding average, the best mark in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
The Grizzlies also lead the RMAC as a team in rebounding margin (+5.0) but will face a tough task in that regard against the Texans who have a +8.0 rebounding margin of their own.
Jeremiah Wilson, a 6-foot-8 junior college transfer from Casper (Wyo.), is leading that charge grabbing 11.2 rebounds per game. He had 12 or more boards in each of the Texans’ four victories and is scoring 11.3 points per game as well.
Williams is nearly averaging a double-double as well and is second on the Texan squad with his 9.8 per game average.
As a team, the Grizzlies are not very familiar with TSU and have played them just once before. TSU claimed victory by a 62-56 score in that meeting on Nov. 26, 1994 in Durango, Colo.
Although the team as a whole is not familiar with Reisman or the Texas, Murdock has an inside knowledge of how tough the Texans are, especially at home. He served as an assistant coach at Eastern New Mexico, which like TSU, is a member of the Lone Star Conference’s South Division, for five years prior to coming to ASC. Murdock also coached at Eastfield College, a junior college located in nearby Dallas for eight years, the last four of which as the head man.
The Texans have advanced to the NCAA Tournament in six of the last seven years and have posted a 421-188 record in Reisman’s 20-plus years. They have reached the Elite 8 twice and have gone 270-55 at home in his tenure, dropping just 12 home games since the 2001-02 season, the last of which came just over a week ago.
The Grizzlies, who hold wins over Oklahoma Panhandle State and Colorado College this year, have alternated wins and losses thus far, a trend that Murdock is hoping continues at least for one more game.
However, he would like to break that trend on Saturday as the Grizzlies remain in the Lone Star state for a Saturday neutral-site contest against NAIA Huston-Tillotson (Texas) on the campus of Dallas Baptist University.
The Rams are 2-3 thus far but have a high-octane offense that is averaging 90.0 pints per game. They scored 116 points in a 14-point win over Concordia on Nov. 15 and tallied 92 in a 2-point double-overtime win at Abilene Christian in their last contest.
Second-year coach Curtis Jones’ team has also been off since Nov. 22 but will play two more games before facing the Grizzlies in what will be their third game in as many days.
6-foot-6 freshman center D’Mond Grismore is averaging and impressive 24.0 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. Robert Hatfield, a 6-foot-4 senior forward who used to play for Tarleton State, is not slouch either and is scoring 19.2 points per game. Gabe Haskins and James Black are also averaging in double figures with 17.4 and 14.2 point per game averages.
Jones’ top five scorers have scored all but 35 of Rams’ 450 total points thus far, an apparent cause for optimism for the Grizzlies who will have a day of rest before the Saturday afternoon contest that begins at 4 p.m. (CST).