|Northwestern State is coming off an even 16-16 season last year. (Northwestern Athletics)|
In our Trippin' series, we're talking to teams as they return from preseason trips to foreign locales. Check here for all Trippin'-related stories.
There was a stretch in the mid 2000's when Northwestern State coach Mike McConathy and the Demons were a lock to compete for Southland titles. Three consecutive first-place finishes in their division and also a couple of big-time upsets. Over the last few years, the program has endured a rough stretch -- but McConathy, fresh off a trip to Canada, feels that it's getting back to where it was.
"We've turned the corner back to where we need to be," McConathy said. "This trip helped us psychologically to put us in position to improve. We've made steps to get it back."
While he will have plenty back from last year's squad that won 18 games and finished second in the east, McConathy will have to adjust to losing defensive game-changer William Mosley, who averaged 9.5 boards per game and swatted 126 shots.
What McConathy learned: "Sometimes we try and give kids too much. We learned what we need to prioritize and we'll going to focus on those things. I also think it's important for them to be serious, but this trip was obviously relaxed and I wanted them to have fun."
Who stood out: "Three guys. Jalan West, Shamir Davis and James Hulbin. Those were our three best and most productive players on the trip. Hulbin really stepped it up and showed what he was capable of doing."
Biggest concern: "Rebounding. We need Hulbin, DeQuan Hicks and O.J. Evans -- as well as Marvin Frazier -- to give us rebounding. They all need to be good rebounders because that's the area that concerns me the most."
- Redshirt freshman Jalan West was terrific on the trip. He had 20 points one game, 18 another and 11 points and 11 assists in a third contest. "He'll make a big difference for us. He pushes it, knows how to score and has great pace and savvy," McConathy said. The 5-foot-10 Bossier, La., native wasn't academically eligible last season and wound up redshirting. Davis, last year's leading scorer at 13.3 points per game, also played well and that duo should be potent in the Southland this season.
- As was the case with many of the teams that have gone overseas, McConathy said that the 24-second shot clock was a major adjustment. "It was difficult because we tried to run offense and didn't have enough time to move the ball the way we would have liked," McConathy said.
- Four players weren't able to make the trip. Freshman Brandon Williams, a late signee; DeQuan Hicks, who finished his junior college requirements too late; Tyler Washington, who is recovering from knee surgery; and junior college guard Brison White. "White is the one guy we should have had," McConathy said. "But we weren't aware of the rule that they needed to pass three hours."
- McConathy said the optimistic approach is that Washington, a junior guard who played sparingly last season, will be back in November. However, he anticipates it could be mid-December before Washington is ready to go -- and that could mean he winds up redshirting.
- Brison White is the X-factor. "I've been told he's one of the top five junior college guys in terms of getting to the bucket," McConathy said. "He's a high-flyer." McConathy anticipates going with a small ball, three-guard lineup of Davis, West and White this season.
- Freshman twins Austin and Dustin Adams had a strong first game overseas with 10 points and six boards apiece, but then they were a non-factor. "They are both incredible catching the ball and rebounding the ball. They've both got a chance."
- McConathy said that he was able to get everyone quality playing time on the trip, largely because they added 20 minutes onto two games and also had a JV affair.
- William Mosley wound up signing with a team in Bologna, Italy, in the second division.