SAN MARCOS - The Texas State Bobcats have a bevy of banners hanging from the rafters of Strahan Arena showing a proud history of basketball success. The only problem? That success, including a 1960 national championship, came when the program was a small NAIA operation. Simply put, making the postseason has been a far-fetched dream since the program's transition to Division I in 1983.
Fast forward to the 2018-19 season and Bobcat men's basketball has something brewing. Only two years removed from a CIT quarterfinals appearance, Texas State has raced out to an impressive 12-3 start. Not bad for a team that was picked eighth in the Sun Belt preseason coaches' poll.
"We really made some believers out of people when we went up to Arkansas and competed," said head coach Danny Kasper. Six years into his tenure, the former Incarnate Word head coach might have his best team in San Marcos.
"It's going to be a real test to win this league, but I think we're capable of doing that," Kasper said.
The Bobcats' three blemishes this season have all come against strong opponents, including a 3-point loss to Arkansas in Fayetteville and a close loss to league-leading Georgia State. It's quite the turnaround for a team that finished below .500 last season.
"I'm used to winning a lot, so last season was really rough on me and the team," said senior guard Tre'Larenz Nottingham. "This year, it feels good to be back on track and winning again."
So what's the difference between this season and last? For one, health. The Bobcats were bitten by the injury bug last year. A healthy roster this season, combined with talent, leadership and a tight-knit roster has translated to on-court success.
"We understand how talented we are, and we believe in each other, believe in ourselves and believe in our coaching staff," said junior guard Nijal Pearson.
The end goal for this year? Get to the NCAA tournament. The players insist they are taking it one game at a time and not focusing on the postseason, but Nottingham admits this is a unit that could get it done.
"We've got the pieces, the talent and the coaching staff to get it done," Nottingham said. "I would love to get to the tournament, and I know we can. We'll do a lot of damage when we get there, too."
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