For the first time since the 2015-16 season, the Lamar men’s basketball team failed to finish with a winning record. Yes, 2020-21 was chaotic with COVID issues. But, at 10-14 overall, and 6-10 in Southland Conference play, it just wasn’t the type of season Cardinals fans have come to expect.
Enter new head coach Alvin Brooks. 37 years of college coaching experience. Multiple conference championships at different schools as a coach. Add fuel to the fire. Brooks is a Lamar alum, leading the Cardinals to three NCAA Tournament wins, two Southland Conference titles, and a Sweet 16 appearance. Most recently, Brooks was part of the Houston coaching staff that took the Cougars to the 2021 Final Four. Lamar fans should be ecstatic to have an experienced veteran leading the Cardinals into their first season in the WAC.
Alvin Brooks, 1st season
Anderson Kopp, 6-6, SO, G
Avery Sullivan, 6-8, SR, F/C
Quinlan Bennett, 6-3, JR, G
Jordyn Adams, 6-3, RSJR, G (Austin Peay)
Xavier Ball, 6-7, JR, F (JUCO)
Valentin Catt, 6-10, SO, F/C (JUCO)
Davion Buster, 5-10, SR, G
Kasen Harrison, 6-1, SO, G
Ellis Jefferson, 6-0, SR, G
Predicted WAC Finish
Yes, Lamar fans should be ecstatic to have Alvin Brooks back as the head coach. That is the easy part. Add in the fact that Brooks got both Davion Buster and Kasen Harrison to stay in Beaumont and it makes the job slightly less rough to begin. Buster led the Cardinals in scoring in 2020-21 at 15.0 points per game. Harrison was second on the team in scoring at 13.1 points. Pretty dynamic backcourt that Brooks inherits.
Add in Austin Peay transfer Jordyn Adams and there are a lot of options around the perimeter. Adams averaged 17.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists and was a First-Team All-OVC selection during his first year for the Governors. Overall, in two seasons at Austin Peay, Adams averaged 14.4 points while shooting 35 percent from beyond the arc.
Here is where the bad news comes in. Lamar is really lacking in the size department. According to the current roster, the Cardinals only have two players 6-9 or taller. Clayton Carpenter is 6-9 but hasn’t played a minute of college hoops due to sitting out the 2020-21 season due to transfer rules. And at 216 pounds, doesn’t scream ready to compete at the highest level. JUCO transfer Valentin Catt stands at 6-10, 220 pounds. Catt averaged 15 points, better than 11 rebounds and 5.1 blocks per game Orangefield High School. Catt played a year at South Plains College before transferring to Lamar.
In an already loaded WAC, size could play a huge factor in whether or not Lamar has success in its first season in the newly-revamped conference. In 2020-21, Lamar was -2.4 in rebounding margin. That won’t cut it against the big men in the WAC.
Brooks has his work cut out for him. But, with recent success, the former Lamar Cardinal can and will get his Alma Mater back on a competitive level. It may just take a year or two so be patient Cardinals fans.
Here is a tweet from Rocco Miller showing some of the non-conference slate for the Cardinals.
Here is what we have for Lamar's non-conference schedule: pic.twitter.com/xZx2ctve6a
— Rocco Miller (@roccomiller8) August 9, 2021