Stephen F. Austin head coach Brad Underwood set a simple goal for his basketball team this season: dream bigger. Dream of more than just winning the Southland Conference. Dream of bigger things than just advancing to the NCAA Tournament, of winning just one game at the tournament. Dream big. Dream of winning every game.
The Lumberjacks (29-4) haven't won every game this season. But after Saturday's 83-70 Southland Conference tournament title game dismembering of Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin has come damn close. It lost just one conference game this season. It's the repeat conference champion, making a second straight trip to the NCAA tournament. It's got a RPI of 33, one of the best in the country. Underwood expects his team to be perfect in an imperfect game.
The SFA team that played in Katy this past weekend was a fun basketball team to watch. There was a precision to the offense, no wasted movement, no rushing of shots. The defense swarmed, the players with good footwork, never out of position. When the offense got into rhythm, the players pushed up the court, hitting quick shots, getting back down the court and forcing opponents to work and work and work for a decent shot. There was never a sense of panic, but never a sense of elation on the court.