Team preview: Sam Houston State

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

Everyone talks about the importance of defense, and how they want to win games by shutting down the opposition. It's a ubiquitous mantra, one nearly as overused by coaches and players as the "we've got to play like a team" cliché.

But at Sam Houston State, they mean it.

And they've got the numbers to prove it.

Last year, the Bearkats finished an impressive ninth among all NCAA Division I schools in field-goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to make just 38.9 percent of their attempts. Just two years earlier, Sam Houston had the fifth-best field-goal percentage defense in the land, proving that defense is priority one in Huntsville.

Of course, that defensive dominance came for a reason. And two of the biggest -- 6-4 forward Joe Thompson and 6-11 center Eddy Fobbs -- are now gone.

Thompson was the Southland Conference Player of the Year last season, and not just because of his 16 points per game, but also because of his near five rebounds per game and his team-leading 41 steals. All Fobbs did was lead the league with 68 blocked shots last year -- 17 more than the No. 2 man in the conference -- and he leaves Sam Houston holding school records for blocks in a game (eight), season (79) and career (266).

They'll be missed. Terribly.