NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) -It was not hard to spot the theme to this year’s Lumberjack basketball team. Suited up in practice uniforms that carried the words ‘disruption’ and ‘chaos’ the 2018-19 squad made it a point to go hard on the first official day of practice as they look to make the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in six years.
“Defense is our bread and butter,” guard Aaron Augustine said. “That is what separates from the rest of the teams. That is what will get us far.”
The team is coming off of an up and down season that saw them finish third in the Southland Conference regular season but win the conference tournament and advance to the NCAA Tournament where they fell just short of beating Texas Tech.
We had a team retreat last week," Head Coach Kyle Keller said. ""The common thing was disappointment. We felt like we were really close to being no different then being Texas Tech and playing Vilanova and going to the Final 4. "
The team is entering the season with a new crop of talent but also lost three key players in Leon Gilmore III, Ty Charles and Ivan Cannette.
“This year’s team is so different than last year’s team even though we return a lot,” Keller said. “The roles have changed so much even though the personnel hasn’t. “Just going down the line, I’m anxious to see Aaron Augustin grow into a true leader and how he embraces that because all he has done is ever win. And I’m eager to see Kevon Harris become a really dominant leader. Then you move over to what can Shannon Bogues do in his final year of basketball and TJ Holyfield - even though he has won so much and has a chance to become the school’s leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker - he’s almost under the radar and the question with him is how is he going to embrace being responsible for leading this team?”
Keller said it will not be hard to get this group of players ready for the big stage.
“We recruit guys that, I think, are pretty hungry and they understand the pride that it is and who they’re playing for and what this program means to so many people,” Keller said. “This brand continues to grow nationally because of what so many people before us have done. People understand how good basketball is in Nacogdoches. We are East Texas' basketball team. This is East Texas' University. We represent everyone in East Texas, between Houston and all the way up to Oklahoma.”