Cowboys face Rockets today in BracketBuster game

By By Alex Hickey / American Press

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.”