Price hopes will to win resonates with team
Before the start of the season, Lamar men’s basketball coach Tic Price showed his team video clips of select NCAA tournament teams from last season.
Among those he chose, by design, were Oregon State and Stephen F. Austin.
Lamar’s first road trip of the season includes the Beavers and Fresno State, both of which made the tournament a year ago.
Price knows if Lamar is to compete with both teams and with Southland champion Stephen F. Austin come conference play, the Cardinals will need to emulate their winning qualities.
“I wanted to show our guys what it takes to win,” Price said. “I wanted them to see the intensity these teams always play with at all times and their will to win.”
It’s a savvy move from Price, whose 2015-16 team finished 4-10 on the road and struggled away from the Montagne Center in early-season road games.
Three of Lamar’s starters in its season-opening 90-47 win over Howard Payne were playing their first game for the school, so the early road games give Price a chance to mold his team differently than last year’s.
Facing a tournament team like Oregon State will give Price that opportunity.
Three of the Beavers’ starting five are 6-foot-8 or taller. Lamar’s tallest starter, sophomore Josh Nzeakor, is listed at 6-foot-8, a generous measurement.
That means Lamar will have to be more physical and out-hustle Oregon State to make up for its obvious size disadvantage.
It’s a precedent Price is hoping to cement with his team early in the season.
“Coach Price showed us those videos to show the extra effort we have to bring every game,” Nzeakor said. “We have to win those 50-50 balls and play hard and really come with something different.”
Fresno State, through two games, is the lesser of the two teams on Lamar’s road trip.
The Bulldogs beat UTSA - Lamar’s next home opponent - 69-66 to open the season but fell 84-78 to Prairie View A&M at home on Monday.
Lamar played Fresno State a season ago and lost 90-81 in one of their better road performances of the season.
The Cardinals, however, never improved from their near-upset of the Bulldogs.
“We have to throw the first punch and not back down,” sophomore guard Nick Garth said. “It’s all about having that right mindset and sticking with it for all 40 minutes.”
Price will be happy with a split from the road trip, especially if Lamar follows cues from the video clips.
Price expects his team will.
“This is the time of year for David to beat Goliath,” Price said. “I’m not sure how we’ll react to adversity but I’d hope we represent Lamar University well.”