Change is the order of the day for Lamar Cardinals basketball. Steve
Roccaforte has replaced coaching icon Billy Tubbs on the sidelines.
Roccaforte had spent the previous three seasons as Tubbs’ top assistant and
recruiting coordinator, and Tubbs will remain as the school’s director of athletics.
The Cardinals return two starters and five letterwinners from last
year’s 17-14 squad that finished tied for fourth place in the Southland
Conference standings with a 9-7 mark. Lamar advanced to the semifinals of
the SLC Tournament before losing at top-seeded and eventual tournament
champion Northwestern State.
Roccaforte will have the unenviable task of replacing Alan Daniels,
who led the team and the conference in scoring for the second straight season
at 23.5 points per game. In fact, the Cardinals return just 24 percent of
their scoring and 13 percent of their rebounding from last season.
The recruiting haul landed five junior college transfers and three freshman
that will need to have an immediate impact for the Cardinals to contend
for the conference championship. The class was heavy in frontcourt players,
which was definitely a need area with the departure of four players that were
6-9 or taller.
Led by junior college All-America center James Davis (7’0”, 300-
pounds), the Cardinals added five players that are at least 6’6” and weigh at
least 230 pounds. That should bolster the team’s interior defense and
Senior Brandon Chappell (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen HS) and junior
Matthew Barrow (Baton Rouge, La./Southern Lab HS) are the lone returning
starters for the Cardinals.
Chappell (6-0, 172) played in all 31 games last season, making 23
starts. He averaged 8.1 ppg and 3.3 rpg, and led the team with 124 assists
(4.0 apg). He was second on the team with 57 three-pointers made and shot
41.0 percent (57-of-139) from three-point range.
Barrow (6-4, 185) started 24 of 26 games before missing the final five
games with a season-ending knee injury. He is the team’s leading returning
scorer at 12.3 ppg. He averaged 2.4 rpg and was second on the team in
assists with 99 (3.8). He shot 41.8 percent from the field and 83.3 percent
(80-of-96) from three-point range.
Also returning to the back court is senior Dee Burchett (Memphis,
Tenn./Southwest Tennessee CC). Burchett (6-3, 200) was slowed by a sore
knee early in the season and played in just eight games.
Junior college transfers Darren Hopkins (Baltimore, Md./Panola JC)
and Currye Todd (Byhalia, Miss./Northwest Mississippi CC) are expected to
provide some scoring punch and long-range shooting. Hopkins averaged
17.0 ppg and 4.0 apg as a sophomore last season at Panola JC.
Todd (6-4, 190), who redshirted last season while completing his
degree requirements, averaged 13.0 ppg and 5.0 rpg as a sophomore at
Northwest Mississippi CC during the 2004-05 season.
Shane Mahoney (Simi Valley, Calif./Stoneridge Prep), a 6-1, 175-
pound point guard, averaged 9.4 ppg, 5.1 apg and 3.1 rpg this season. He
scored over 1,000 points and dished out over 500 assists during his prep
Lamar, who lost nearly its entire front line from last year’s team, added
five players to reload the front court. All five players weigh at least 230
pounds, which is expected to help the Cardinals rebounding and interior
The front court additions are led by junior college transfers James Davis (Minneapolis, Minn./Schoolcraft JC), Lamar Sanders (Hickory,
Miss./Northwest Mississippi CC) and Stephen Musa (Lagos,
Davis (7-0, 300) ranked 18th in the country in scoring at 21.2 ppg and
12th in rebounding at 12.1 rpg, and shot 67.9 percent from the field. He was
named first-team NJCAA All-America selection and first-team all-region.
Sanders (6-6, 240), who redshirted last season while completing his
degree requirements, averaged 18.0 ppg, 11.0 rpg and shot 69.0 percent
from the field as a sophomore in 2004-05. He earned NJCAA All-America
Musa (6-9, 245) was slowed by a foot injury last season and averaged
4.0 ppg and 4.1 rpg. He shot 52 percent from the field and helped Redlands
post a 27-6 record and advance to the regional finals.
The Cardinals also added high schoolers Franklin Reed (Coldspring,
Texas/Coldspring HS) and Coy Custer (League City, Texas/Clear Creek
Reed (6-8, 280) averaged 21 ppg, 14 rpg and 12 bpg last season as a
senior. He helped Coldspring reach the Class 3A regional final for the first
time in school history.
Custer (6-10, 235) averaged 13 ppg, 9 rpg and 3.1 bpg and was a unanimous
All-District 24-5A selection. He helped Clear Creek post a 28-9
record and advance to the regional quarterfinals.
Lamar will be embarking on its 55th season as a four-year institution.
The Cardinals open the regular season Nov. 11 with a home game against
Texas Southern, which will be earliest start to the season in school history.
Lamar travels to College Station for Texas A&M’s Tournament where
the Cardinals will play the host Aggies, Saint Louis and Louisiana Tech in a
The Cardinals return home to host the University of New Orleans and
St. Gregory’s before embarking on a three-game road trip with games at
Tulsa, Oral Roberts and Rice.
Lamar closes out the non-conference schedule with home games
against Brigham Young, Northern Illinois and Louisiana College, and road
games at Wyoming and Memphis.
There are lots of changes in the Southland Conference schedule and
format for the 2006-07 season. Louisiana-Monroe left the league to join the
Sun Belt Conference while the conference welcomed Texas A&M-Corpus
Christi and Central Arkansas.
The 12-team league will be split into two six-team divisions. Lamar is
in the same division as McNeese State, Nicholls State, Southeastern
Louisiana, Northwestern State and Central Arkansas. The other division will
be Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin, Texas-Arlington, Texas-San
Antonio, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Texas State.
Lamar will play the other five team’s in its division twice, once home
and once away, and will play schools from the other division once, three
home and three away. The Cardinals will play Stephen F. Austin, Texas
State and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at home and play Texas-San Antonio,
Sam Houston and Texas-Arlington on the road.
The SLC Tournament will be played at the Campbell Center in
Houston, which marks the first time since the 2000-01 season that the tournament
will be contested at a neutral site. The top two teams from each division
and the next four teams with the best record will advance to the eightteam
tournament. The tournament winner will receive the league’s automatic
bid to the NCAA Tournament.