Now that we are in full swing in the winter sports, it is time to take a look at our Basketball teams and their respective seasons thus far. As always, Ladies first.
- Jason Burton’s 6th year is off to a fantastic start. At 8-0 and ranked 10th nationally, he has this group of Lions ready to take the next step. Last year was huge to get back into the NCAA National tournament and make a run at the LSC Championship. This team he has now is by all intents and measures, his best that he has had so far.
- Let me key in on Jason Burton. I have played Basketball all my life and have two brothers who coach Basketball for large High Schools in Texas. I know the game and I know a good coach when I see one. Burton is a true student of the game. He is also a true teacher of the game as well. He learns and gets better every year in developing the program in Commerce to make it Championship level. When he was hired, those of us who knew about Jason knew that he had what it took to build a successful program because being a Man coaching a Women’s team on any level can also be more of a challenge in communication as well, not everyone can do that, but Burton can and has. It takes a special kind of person to do that and also mold those players into what he needs to win Championships.
- So far, the season has shown the Lions to only have one game that was even remotely close. All the rest have been blowout wins. That has to do with playing complete Basketball games. Hitting free throws, grabbing rebounds, not giving up second and third shots, setting up mismatches against other players. This team is playing championship level basketball as of now. Their record and scores reflect that.
- Burton has had a chance to build his own culture as I stated in the earlier points and that includes who he has surrounding him. Markeith Brown has been with Burton for 4 seasons now and he has a proven record of setting up quality programs. Joining them as Director of Basketball operations is a face that should be familiar to Lion Basketball fans from last year, Ekaterina Zhibareva. The Russia native was a key player on last year’s team and also has Division I experience as she transferred from Marshall University. Having someone who knows what Burton expects and what he is building is vital, as Kat has literally just gotten out of the shoes that so many of these players are in now.
- Finally, the LSC is now 19 members which will make winning a title that much harder. They were picked 4th in the preseason poll behind Lubbock Christian, West Texas A&M, and Angelo State. Winning home games is a must and winning the games you should be winning is also a must. The task has gotten tougher, and the margin for error has gotten that much slimmer. However, this team’s talent along with a seasoned coaching staff could give Lion Nation something we have not had in over a decade, and only had once, a Conference title and run at a National Championship. The next game is Saturday at 2 in Commerce at the University Fieldhouse.