Dunkin’ Dogs’ defense key to winning streak

February 5, 2017


Erik McCree (2) earned Louisiana Sport’s Writers Association Men’s Basketball Co-Player of the Week honors after scoring in double digits for two games. – Photo courtesy of Donny Crowe


Alex Heard
Staff Reporter | amh072@latech.edu


Find a fire extinguisher because the “Dunkin’ Dogs” are on fire.


The Louisiana Tech men’s basketball team has won four straight games – all against conference opponents to add icing on top of the cake. The games have been against Charlotte, Old Dominion, and most recently Rice and North Texas.


Tech is currently 14-6 and 6-1 in Conference-USA play. One key to Tech’s success has been its hard-nosed defense. Tech held North Texas to its season-low in points scored (57).


Eric Konkol, head coach at Tech, said the team’s stingy defense can be credited to its most-seasoned players, Erik McCree and Jacobi Boykins, for leading by example.


“(Those guys) are two of our upperclassmen that we count on a great bit, both inside and outside and from their defense,” Konkol said. “Both guys getting ten rebounds was huge and something that we have been challenging Jacobi to do, to help us on the backboard. He gets blocks. He gets steals. He is a tremendous defender. Erik has been doing it on the backboard all year, as well. Those two guys have been leaders for us and we certainly expect and count on their production.”


Tech has continued to get their act together more in the second half of games during this winning streak.
Konkol said North Texas, much like Rice, started out the game playing well but were buckled down after he challenged his team’s toughness.


“I give North Texas a lot of credit,” Konkol said. “I thought they played hard, fast and tough. They showed some great toughness playing with a smaller lineup. They really gave us some trouble early. I just challenged our guys at halftime to play faster and tougher. I thought we were not as sharp and not working as hard, as well as a little bit on our heels. I think that was the difference and we just came out with a lot more pop (in the second half).”


Omar Sherman (with ball) defends the ball from the reach of NTSU. – Photo by Ashley Kober

Konkol said when Tech plays fast and tough they can get into teams’ heads, Rice succumbed to Tech’s mental games on defense.


“We wanted to be active and really try to keep them guessing,” Konkol said. “There were some individual defensive efforts that happened. We were also switching and being in gaps and the team defense was there tonight. We wanted to make things difficult for both (Egor) Koulechov and (Marcus) Evans. They are two terrific talents and great scorers. I really thought that was the difference in the game.”


Tech will take its win streak on the road these next two games, the toughest road trip of the season for the Bulldogs, to play conference foes University of Alabama-Birmingham and Middle Tennessee.


UAB is 5-2 in conference play while Middle Tennessee is undefeated at 7-0.


Tech plays against UAB at 8 p.m. today in Birmingham, Alabama.


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