NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - When Stephen F. Austin State University head basketball coach Kyle Keller started building this year’s team, he knew they were good, but he wasn’t sure how good.
“I think we have exceeded my expectations so far,” Keller said. “ I knew the team was good but I wasn’t sure how fast they would come together. The most telling win for me was the Arkansas State win. We went there and won big on a nine-win team. It was big to come off the Duke game and get that one a few days later.”
The Lumberjacks are 10-2 on the season and 2-0 in conference play. This weekend the team held on for an 81-73 win over McNeese. The Christmas break for the team comes at the perfect time. The team will be off until the day after Christmas and then focus on their final non-conference game against Paul Quinn before 18-straight conference games to end the regular season.
“We are off for five days and the kids need a break,” Keller said. “It will be good for them. We have been going since July. They will be excited to play a game against Paul Quinn versus two-a-days in the gym after Christmas. It can become monotonous.”
The 20-game conference scheduls is new this year for the Southland Conference. The teams have sounded excited about it because it opens up the door for another home game for the fans and players. The downside is that the conference schedule starts before Christmas and can be road heavy.
“Six of our first eight conference games are on the road,” Keller said. “The league hasn’t done us any favors by putting all these road games early. We will be up to the challenge. Then we go to Lousiana for Southeast and UNO. Our staff has not won at UNO. We won’t be here for New Year’s Eve. We will be gone in that period of time. It will be a challenge to see how we can sustain our winning ways.”
A big part of their success has been the senior leadership of Kevon Harris. In the first 12 games, he is averaging 17.4 points a game and shooting .460 on field goals.
“I don’t have to do much coaching with Kevon,” Keller said. “He knows what I am thinking and he goes out and does it. He is a great player. We have heard from some professional entities and what will get him on the next level is how much we win and he helps with that.”
SFA is off for Christmas then returns to the floor on Dec. 28 for a final non-conference game against Paul Quinn. After that, the team will play two straight road games at Southeastern Louisiana and New Orleans.