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Dunkin’ ‘Dogs begin new era

October 15, 2015

 

ALEX HEARD

Staff Reporter | amh072@latech.edu 

Senior guard Qiydar Davis shoots a free throw at one of the first practices of the new season. Davis is one of three seniors on the team–Photo by Jonathan Shaul

Senior guard Qiydar Davis shoots a free throw at one of the first practices of the new season. Davis is one of three seniors on the team–Photo by Jonathan Shaul

 

The Louisiana Tech men’s basketball team has hit the court and a new era is set to begin in Ruston.

 

Tech began practice on Saturday with fans questioning what is to come of Bulldog basketball in the upcoming future?

 

Former head coach Michael White took the job at the University of Florida in May, taking more than 100 wins with him and leaving Tech Athletics Director Tommy McClelland with the tough assignment of replacing such an established leader. Enter Eric Konkol.

 

Konkol comes to Tech from the University of Miami where he learned under coach Jim Larranaga, a well-established coach himself with more than 500-plus career wins under his belt. Konkol was also previously under Larranaga’s wing at George Mason University.

 

Konkol said he will use the important coaching strategies he learned from Larranaga to put Tech basketball in the best position to win.

 

“Coach Larranga is one of the very best, he has been doing it for a long time,” Konkol said. “There are two particular things I will remember from him. One, there is no detail too small; we have to do the little things well and the big things will work themselves. And two, we have to play to the strengths of our team, mold the program around those strengths and make it a players-first program.”

 

Not only did White depart, but Tech also lost three core senior players. Michale Kyser, the defensive anchor, is in the NBA with the Toronto Raptors while Raheem Appleby, an ESPN SportsCenter Top Play owner and Kenneth “Speedy” Smith, former C-USA Player of the Year, are playing overseas in Europe.

 

Those players and the fast paced, defense-oriented style they played helped lead Tech to an undefeated home stand last season at 17-0. That extended their winning streak  in the TAC to 29 games and counting.

 

Konkol said despite those players leaving, he does not plan on changing Tech’s offensive strategy and overall style of play.

 

“We absolutely want to keep the Dunkin’ Dogs’ style of play,” Konkol said. “We want to be aggressive and we want to be fast on both sides of the floor and create turnovers. Offensively, we want to turn those turnovers into quick points, preferably dunks.”

 

Unfortunately, White and the “Big Three” were never able get over the postseason hump during their tenure. The best they reached was the NIT quarterfinals while never reahcing a NCAA Tournament bid.

 

Alex Hamilton, a senior shooting guard, said if the team wants to continue winning and finally earn a NCAA bid, they must focus on the defensive side of the ball.

 

“To get over the hump we have to play more consistently on defense,” Hamilton said. “We have to get stops when we need them while also being able to execute on offense.”

 

Hamilton said he must use his experience with the “Big Three” to help him lead this season and continue the success of Bulldog basketball.

 

“I feel like I have to lead and be more vocal,” Hamilton said. “I have a big role to fill from the three seniors from last year’s team. I have to be a leader.”

 

Tech will tip off its men’s basketball season at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 17 in the Thomas Assembly Center against Texas-Arlington.

 

For more on Tech athletics, follow the Tech Talk Sports Desk’s Twitter page at twitter.com/techtalksports.

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