Team preview: Northwestern State

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

Ignore the 13 Southland Conference victories, the most since the Demons joined the league in 1987, and the regular-season league title.

Northwestern State coach Mike McConathy spent much of his summer thinking about one of just four losses his team suffered against conference foes. Unfortunately, the fourth one was the last one -- a defeat at the hands of Southeastern Louisiana in the championship game of the conference tournament.

That's the one that kept the Demons, despite their remarkable run through league play, out of the NCAA Tournament.

"It was pretty frustrating. It was probably the toughest loss we've had here in several years," McConathy said. "We lost to a very good team and a very well-coached team, but it was just not our day. If we had played to the best of our ability and shot the ball well and still lost, it probably wouldn't bother me as much.

"Too often we keep trying to chase getting back to that goal, and it seems like this summer instead of relaxing and smelling the roses and realizing that we did accomplish a lot, I just felt like the job was incomplete. So it was frustrating, but maybe not winning that title could work in our best interest."

Many of his players thought the same.

"It was harder for me than losing in the high school state semifinals two years in a row," said 6-9 senior center Alfonse Dyer (5.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg). "We were just getting better every game, and we wanted that win to get to the tournament. That just made us want to get back this year even more."