Last Modified: Friday, February 22, 2013 6:58 PM
This year’s McNeese State basketball team has gone through more identity changes than Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in “Catch Me If You Can.”
There were the seven games without three players waiting to get eligibility, the 10-game stretch that saw Ledrick Eackles become a go-to scorer off the bench, and then the seven games since he left the team.
Each of those segments required the Cowboys to take some time to adjust and figure out who they are.
As McNeese heads to today’s BracketBuster game at Toledo, everyone’s role has finally become clear — ideally for the last time this season.
“The past few games we seem to have found the formula for what it takes to win,” said sophomore Kevin Hardy. “We just want to keep pressing on it and build from it and keep getting better.”
Senior point guard Dontae Cannon has stepped up as a scorer, averaging 16.2 points over the last five games.
Forward Desharick Guidry has suddenly become an outside threat, going 7-for-12 from 3-point range in the past six games after making none in the previous 18.
And St. Louis grad Keelan Garrett has gone from rarely playing to averaging 8.3 points per game in McNeese’s last three contests, two of which were wins.
“It feels good to have my high school teammate,” Hardy said of Garrett. “Whenever he gets going, we’re able to feed off each other because we’ve played together so long.”
Now that the Cowboys are finding their stride with three wins in that last four games, they’ll try to keep it up at Toledo. The Rockets ended McNeese’s season in the first round of last year’s College Insider.com Tournament.
Toledo returns most of its personnel from last year, which gave Cowboys coach Dave Simmons a much easier scouting assignment than most coaches across the country for the BracketBuster.
“They’ve basically got the same team they had last year,” Simmons said. “They shoot the ball well and are well-coached. Four starters are back and the other one was the sixth man. It’s not like we’re going in blind. We’ve got a familiarity with their personnel.”
This is the final year of the BracketBuster event, allowing one to infer that it has gained more detractors than fans over the years.
However, Simmons is a fan for the fact it will allow him to give more minutes to freshman forward Austin Lewis in a nonconference setting. Lewis missed three games with a knee injury and played only 9 minutes against Southeastern Louisiana in his return to the floor.
“This a good opportunity to get him some good, quality minutes. That’s a big positive,” Simmons said. “The only negative is it’s going to be awfully cold.”