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LA Tech Searches For Rotation

With four key players returning this season, Louisiana Tech Head Coach Mike White knew he could count on having a solid starting lineup. His problem was going o be which of the nine new players would step in and fill key roles.

Erik McCree has given Head Coach Mike White a major boost inside
Erik McCree has given Head Coach Mike White a major boost inside
Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Five games into the season, Louisiana Tech is 4-1 and the Bulldogs are relying on five starters that all average over 23 minutes per game. The biggest addition to the team has been Erik McCree, who is second on the team in scoring (14.0) and rebounding (5.4).  The 6'8" sophomore transferred in from Murray State and was able to practice with the team last season.

The bench so far has been led by three 6-6 wings. True freshman Xavian Stapleton is averaging 6.0 points in 18 minutes per game and he has made six 3-point shots. Fellow true freshman Jacobi Boykins has been a little more efficient, averaging 5.4 points in 11.6 minutes while only attempting 16 shots. 

Quiydar Davis, a 6-6 junior transfer had been struggling to make an impact on offense, but he exploded for 17 points and 9 rebounds in just 15 minutes of action against Presbyterian in his last game.

6-11 true freshman Joniah White has 10 rebounds and 4 blocks on the season while playing in 9 minutes per game. 6-9 redshirt freshman Leo Edwards is expected to also contribute at center this year. 

6-8 sophomore Merrill Holden had 7 points, 2 rebounds, and a block in just five minutes in Tech's opening win against Southern. He has struggled to etch out a consistent spot in the rotation, but should eventually be a great energy guy behind McCree at power forward. The Bulldogs need his size and athleticism on the court; right now the 190 pound Stapleton is being used as a fourth guard on the court. 

6-5 true freshman guard Dayon Griffin is averaging 7 minutes per game, he had 4 rebounds and 2 blocks in 9 mins against American University. 

The Bulldogs have four games in the next two weeks, including to in-state road tests against the always dangerous Northwestern State Demons and the ULL Ragin Cajuns. The Cajuns are led by NBA prospect Shawn Long, who is a major force in the paint.

The Bulldogs have chances for big resume builders later in the month against Syracuse and N.C. State. If they are going to pull off an upset, they will likely need a couple of guys to come up big off the bench. 

Coach White also needs to find a way to get Alex Hamilton going offensively. Raheem Appleby and Erik McCree are the only Bulldogs in double figures. Hamilton is only shooting .415 from the field, including just 2-11  from deep. 

The season is young, but it's time for the baby Bulldogs to grow up fast. With eight freshmen and sophomores on the team, there was certainly going to be a learning curve. The seniors have their sights on the Big Dance and they will need a lot of help to get there.