Wednesday, March 7, 2018
The Independent Student Newspaper of Sam Houston State University
The Official News Source of Sam Houston State University POLITICAL CELEB, P. 2 Democratic nominee for Senate, Beto O’Rourke, visited Huntsville and received a warm welcome. Volume 129 | Issue 19
CURRICULUM, P. 2 Sam Houston State University will be implementing 95 additional classes.
WOMEN’S HISTORY, P. 3 March is Women’s History Month, and Sam Houston State University has a full docket of events.
HUMANS AT SAM, P. 3 Rachael Varner spotlights Sam Houston State University alumna Leslie Suggs. @HoustonianSHSU
PLAYOFF HOOPS, P. 4 Sam Houston State University men’s basketball holds the No. 4 seed heading to Katy. HoustonianOnline.com
Athletic Director Bobby Williams: SHSU and KA President “Insensitivity and poor judgement” STD’s: raw A prominent Bearkat student-athlete posted a racially insensitive video on data tells David Snapchat in blackface discussing “makeup goals fr” the tale Johnson: “New house... new era” EMILY DAVIS News/ Viewpoints Editor
RYAN REYNOLDS Editor-in-Chief The Gamma Tau chapter of Kappa Alpha Order (KA) at Sam Houston State University is eyeing a new stomping ground starting Fall 2018. Plans are in the works to build a new two-story, nine-bedroom house, and will be built on the current location KA has owned since 1993. The new residence will cost around $700,000. “I know the guys are excited and the alumni are excited about it,” KA Alumnus Advisor Ronny Snow said. “This has been 15 to 20 years in the making, so everyone is just excited. It’s been a long journey and we’re about at the end of it.” The house will sit at 905 15 Street and will feature a heated and cooled area of about 4,600 square feet, according to Snow. The house will also contain 5,800 square feet under roof and will have a roomy back porch, which Snow said is one of the main attractions. “All the bedrooms will be upstairs so the back porch will have that high roof over it coming off that second story,” Snow said. “When we have homecoming, and we have a bunch of alumni back, it’s going to be a really nice place for us to gather, and it’s going to be a really nice place for all the actives. We’re going to try and see about putting a big screen up.” KA plans to bulldoze the current house. According to Snow, the fraternity has been battling continuous problems with the house due to its age. The original house was built by the Zeta Mu chapter of Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) in the 1960s, and KA acquired the piece in 1993. The fraternity recently had to tweak with the plumbing system due to the deteriorating clay piping, Snow said. “It [the house] served its purpose,” Snow said. “We had to get rid of all the clay pipe so someone KA continues on page 2
Photo courtesy Brian Blalock | SHSU Athletics
Screen grab taken from Snapchat video
RACIAL VIDEO. Sam Houston State University sophomore guard Jenniffer Oramas received serious backlash on social media after a video surfaced on Snapchat of her with dark makeup saying “Black girl Jenn.”
cal makeup used predominately by non-black performers to represent a black person. It was popular in the 1800s and contributed to the spread of several racial stereotypes. Both Oramas and Knight
Athletic Director Bobby Williams said neither Oramas nor the women’s basketball coach would comment on the story, but WilSam Houston State Univerliams and the athletic department sity sophomore guard Jenniffer did issue a statement regarding Oramas is taking heat following social media rea racially insensitive video that sponsibility Tuessurfaced on Twitter around I don’t understand how y’all can fight for this day afternoon. midnight on Tuesday. The Ath“Our program letic Department issued a state- girl to be expelled for this. Y’all really want this ment, but no further action has girl to fail. I was raised to pray for people so they fosters an inclufix their problems, not help add fuel so they can sive environment been taken. The video appeared on fresh- have their life ruined. I pray for those who do encouraging respect of diverse man post Hannah Knight’s wrong also.” backgrounds and Snapchat and was later shared to Twitter causing SHSU to trend - P.J. Hall, former Bearkat defensive lineman on ideas,” Williams said. “We uphold on the social media platform. Twitter these core values The 14-second video showed despite any insensitivity and poor Oramas sitting on a bathroom are Caucasian. The point guard deactivated judgment on social media by an countertop wearing blackface makeup, bobbing her head around her Twitter account following individual.” Oramas joined the Bearkats in before looking at the camera and the video going viral and has yet saying “black girl Jenn.” Oramas to release an official statement re- 2016 and immediately made her presence known on the court. The then jumped down and blew a kiss garding the incident. Athletics Emphasizes Social sophomore led the team in scoring at the camera. Oramas continues on page 4 Blackface is a form of theatri- Media Responsibility RYAN REYNOLDS Editor-in-Chief
In 2016, Sam Houston State University’s sexually transmitted infection (STI) rates among students made national news. According to the campus Student Health Center, the numbers have only fluctuated slightly since then. It is important to note that the Student Health Center is a service offered to all enrolled students who have paid the medical services fee which allows them access to STI testing and education/ prevention services. However, the center is not the sole provider of this type of service for SHSU students as other avenues of testing and treatment are available through primary care physicians and the state health department. As a result, statistics cited by the Student Health Center are not an exact representation of the prevalence of STI cases in SHSU’s student body. According to the Student Health Center, in 2014-15 1,159 students were tested for STI’s.18.6 percent (220) of those students tested positive for Gonorrhea or Chlamydia. From 2015-16, 20.6 percent of students tested positive: more specifically, 261 out of 1,265. “Due to STD (sexually transmitted diseases) awareness programs, testing increased by 106 students in the academic year 2015-16,” Associate Director of Communications Emily Binetti said. Between 2016-17, STI testing participation decreased by six students and positive results decreased by 14, resulting in 19.6 percent positive test results. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that youth ages 15-24 make up just over 25 percent of the sexually active population, but account for half of the 20 million new STIs that occur in the United States each year. According to the Student Health Center and Office of Health Promotion, their mission is to provide convenient and accessible services of testing, sexual health education and protection methods. STD continues on page 2
Jordan Likens | The Houstonian
KNOWING YOUR STATUS. Sam Houston State University made Photos courtesy Southland Conference national headlines in 2016 after STD reports showed the percentagSOUTHLAND MADNESS. The 2018 Southland Conference men’s basketball tournament tips off of students with STI’s. How have Wednesday in Katy. SHSU is the No. 4 seed, and the Kats are hunting for a championship. Story on page 4 es the numbers changed in 2018?
The Houstonian | HoustonianOnline.com/news | Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Photo courtesy David Johnson
HOME SWEET HOME. Kappa Alpha Order is aiming to build a new $700,000 house that features two stories and nine bedrooms.
KA continued, page 1 — could live there this year, and it’s just served its purpose. We did look at the cost to renovate it, but it was just cost prohibited to try and do anything with it.” The project is made possible by a loan from a bank in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The bank
will help finance the project, and KA will run a capital campaign with its alumni to help pay back the loan in the next couple years. “The national office has recognized the difficulty in building fraternity houses,” Snow said. “They’ve come up with this loan program where they help you get the loan and we’re very thankful
we had the opportunity to get in that program.” The house is expected to be finished in August, but Snow mentioned the project is on a “tight timeline” and could open in September at the latest. KA is hosting a Founder’s Dinner on March 24 to benefit the furniture for the new house. The dinner will be held at the Walker Education Center at 6 p.m. “I think this [the building of a new house] will help KA kind of start a new era here,” KA President David Johnson said. “We came back and everything has been moving forward since then. This new house will allow us to keep that momentum. The new house will allow us to have everything that chapters need all in one place.” The Gamma Tau chapter was first established in 1960, was colonized a provisional chapter in October 2013 and restored as an active chapter in April 2016. The
chapter holds a 2.75 GPA and has roughly 25 members. STD continued, page 1 — Each semester, the Student Health Center and Office of Health Promotion partner with the local Departments of State Health Services office to host a G.Y.T. (Get Yourself Tested) event on campus that provides students with free testing and education on “[knowing] your status.” “This event continues to grow each semester and shows positive outcomes of increased participation and very low positive test result rates,” Binetti said. “In the past several semesters, participation has gone from 176 students in Fall 2016 to 365 students in Fall 2017.” Condoms are now available in residence hall vending machines, as part of a recent initiative effective May 2017.
“This effort was brought forth due to student feedback that requesting condoms at the Health Center or going to a local store to purchase them can often be uncomfortable and inconvenient based on hours of operation,” Binetti said. With the addition of condoms in vending machines, students now have easy access to a prevention method that is about 88 percent effective with typical use for STI prevention. “Sales indicate that this is a resource that our student population is utilizing,” Binetti said. The Student Health Center offers daily appointment reservations available in both the morning and afternoon Monday through Friday specifically for STI testing and education. The center has a dedicated Women’s Health Center to also provide education on birth control options and prevention methods.
SHSU tweaks curriculum MICHAEL FLORES Contributing Reporter
Photo courtesy Marissa Nunez | The Huntsville Item
Beto O’Rourke visits Huntsville, discusses contemporary issues TRACE HARRIS Staff Reporter On March 1, Beto O’Rourke visited Huntsville. The event took place at the Kathy and Don Walker Education Building in the shadow of Sam Houston’s home. The Town Hall was organized by Dorothy Willett of the Walker County Democrats; O’Rourke will likely run against incumbent Ted Cruz. O’Rourke’s visit to Huntsville followed a long East Texas trip from Pittsburg to Texarkana to Longview and a visit to Stephen F. Austin State University before arriving in Huntsville. O’Rourke is the current U.S. Representative for Texas’ 16 district in El Paso, which he has represented since 2013. Prior to O’Rourke’s visit, an email was sent to attendees for donations for gas for the campaign van. The O’Rourke campaign is a true grass roots movement which does not take donations from political action committees, corporations or special interest groups. Despite this, O’Rourke raised over $2.3 million in individual donations, with an average donation of $25 (according to the latest report). His opponent raised just over $1 million, despite funds from his failed bid at the presidency and donations from Political Action Committees (PACs). O’Rourke arrived to roaring applause from the crowd of supporters in the room filled from wall to wall. He laid down the issues he supports, how he would like to represent Texas and what he hopes to see from Texas in the future. O’Rourke first spoke of the need for compassion in Texas and the unity the state needs to heal. O’Rourke spoke of the dire consequences of climate change which the future holds if a change
Sam Houston State University continues to grow in many different shapes and forms. Visually, many people see the growth of new buildings and the student body. A major part of this growth, however, consists of several new degree plans and changes to the curriculum at SHSU. Three new degree plans have been added to SHSU’s curriculum: Bachelor of Arts in French, a Master of Fine Arts in Digital Media Production and a Master of Science in Nursing. The new Bachelors of Arts in French program was brought about after much research into current job trends and postings online through job search sites. “Knowing French gives students an advantage in the global marketplace,” French professor Siham Bouamer said. “It opens up employment opportunities in all French-speaking parts of the world. This includes Belgium, Canada, Caribbean, France, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and Switzerland.” According to Bouamer, the Master of French will be just as beneficial to alumni looking for careers in Texas, as well as other parts of the world. “The French degree will be beneficial to students who want to stay in Texas,” Bouamer said. “The French program is often contacted by Houston-based airlines to recruit French-speaking individuals for full-time employment. Québec Government Trade office (newly established in Houston) is now seeking numerous French-speaking partners in Texas and surrounding states in high-tech sectors such as aerospace, bio-medical, digital media, clean-tech and agro-food. U.S. Border Patrol Services, as well as, Doctors without Borders regu-
larly recruit French-speaking employees.” There is a nationwide teacher shortage in foreign languages. Houston ISD recently announced implementation of dual-immersion programs, in which students will be taught in both English and French in classrooms. These programs will lead to a rise of employment for bilingual teachers in the years to come. The new French program will include study abroad programs in Quebec, which will include a fiveweek long trip focused on French immersion. With the addition of this new program there has been a request to add five additional classes to help support the new degree, as well. Students may be able to register for these courses as early as Fall 2018. The new Master of Fine Arts in Digital Media Production degree was proposed in response to market needs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, staffing at digital media companies has increased 32 percent since June 2009, and is expected to grow another six percent from 2014 to 2024—including a seven percent growth expected in broadcast and sound engineering technicians, and 11 percent growth in digital film and video editors; these statistics were used in proposing the new degree plan. “I think this will be a challenging program,” Mass Communication department graduate coordinator Robin Johnson said. “Any advanced degree should provide significant challenges and effort so that graduates will stand out among their peers and in the job market. We want our graduates to be able to make an impression, so future students are inspired to come here and that employers know that SHSU’s graduates have the skills and work ethic to succeed.” Even with the proposal for this
new degree being approved by the Texas State University System, there will still be some work done before students are able to sign up. According to Johnson, the degree will likely be available for registration in Fall 2019. Dr. Kiwon Seo will soon be the graduate program coordinator after Professor Johnson leaves to be the Director of the School of Journalism and Mass Media at the University of Idaho. The Master of Fine Arts in Digital Media Production degree plan will focus largely on the future of media and preparing students for operations, such as app development, streaming and obtaining advanced skills in media production. According to Johnson, the degree is not geared specifically towards getting students jobs more quickly, but emphasizes the quality of jobs that can be obtained with the Master of Fine Arts degree. This degree plan will be adding eight new classes to help support the program, including Web and Mobile Development, Sound Design and Editing and Motion Graphics and Effects. Another new degree is a Master of Science in Nursing, which has a concentration in providing advanced medical and nursing care to individuals, families, groups and communities, according to the board of regent’s proposal. This degree plan will be adding 11 classes to help support the new degree. A few of these classes include, Role Transition and Theory, Advanced Pharmacotherapeutics and Clinical Research and EBP. This degree plan is geared largely toward students who want to work with in the local community. According to the proposal for this degree, the student demand for nurse practitioners in
is not made. He also laid out a plan for a Medicare-for-all healthcare proposed by Bernie Sanders. Despite being in the “Prison City,” O’Rourke spoke in support of criminal justice reform, an end to the war on drugs and a need for more mental health services because people go to prison to receive this treatment. Immigration reform is a cornerstone issue for the Senate candidate as he lives in El Paso, just across the Rio Grande from Mexico. He supports the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and proposed extending it to families. Finally, the issue on the minds of many was gun rights. The recent Parkland shooting in Florida has led to a national conversation on gun reform and safety. O’Rourke supports a ban on assault weapons, such as the AR-15 used in countless shootings, which he Visit HoustonianOnline.com for called, “a weapon of war.” the entire article. O’Rourke answered several questions from the crowd and further laid out his plans to stand up for Texas. After the event, many lined up for pictures with O’Rourke. He received roaring applause once again following the event. Despite Texas’ reputation as a deep-red state, O’Rourke has done well in the polls even compared to Cruz. The election follows the December special election in Alabama where Democrat Doug Jones pulled off an upset against Republican Roy Moore. Greg Abbot even sent out an email Wednesday to constituents saying, “the early voting numbers by democrats should rock republicans to their core.” The voter turnout has been off the charts by Tyler Josefsen | The Houstonian democrats in the early voting for the primary elections, which offi- CHANGE IS A GOOD THING. Sam Houston State University will incorporate 95 new classes as part of three new degree plans: Bachelor of Arts in French, a Master of Fine Arts in Digital Media Production and a Master of cially took place on March 6. Science in Nursing. 17 classes will also be taken away.
The Houstonian | HoustonianOnline.com/campusculture | Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Women’s History Month starts strong at SHSU
E V EN TS F OR WO M EN’S H I STORY M O N T H March 1, 11 a.m.
Location: LSC Mall Diversity Council Women’s History Month Kick-Off Event
March 5, 3 p.m.
Location: Olson Auditorium Reading and book signing—Texan and New York Time’s Bestselling Author, Jodi Thomas (www. jodithomas.com)
March 5, 6 p.m.
Location: Evans 212 Let’s Get Loud Slam Poetry Presentation
March 7, 4 p.m.
Location: CHSS 110 Screening of the film “Frida,” a biopic about Mexican surrealist painter Frida Kahlo, introduction and Q&A by Dr. Charles Heath, Associate Professor of History, co-sponsored by the Bearkat History Club
March 8, 6 p.m.
Location: LSC 110 Diversity Council Event—“Why Do Women Hate Women?”
March 9, 6 p.m.
Location: Olson Auditorium Panel Discussion—Next Generation Leadership: Female Student Leaders at SHSU
March 19, 3 pm.
Location: Olson Auditorium Lecture—Debating Downton: Women and Influence, by Dr. Dana Cooper, Professor of History, Stephen F. Austin State University and author of Informal Ambassadors: American Women, Transatlantic Marriages, and Anglo-American Relations, 18651945 (New Studies in U.S. Foreign Relations)
March 20, 3 p.m.
Location: Olson Auditorium Lecture—Linda White, nationally known speaker on restorative justice, violent crimes victims advocate and long-time volunteer with Bridges to Life
March 20, 12 Noon
Location: LSC 315 Diversity Council Event—Chat and Chew: Women’s Issues
March 21, 3 p.m.
Location: Olson Auditorium A Conversation with SHSU President Dana Hoyt— Career Path to the Presidency (March 26, Podcast released: A Conversation with SHSU President Dana Hoyt: Career Path to the Presidency)
March 23, 5-6 p.m.
Location: LSC 320 Women and the Military Social Hour—Veterans and Moms, Daughters, Sisters, Partners of Military are all invited Hosted by CHSS, COE, the Veteran’s Resource Center, and the Campus Veterans Association
March 28, 4 p.m.
Location: CHSS C070 Faculty Panel Discussion—Gender Issues and Opportunities in the Workplace
March 29, 3 p.m.
Location: Olson Auditorium Lecture—Women in the Muslim World, by Dr. Pinar Emiralioglu, Associate Professor of History
1-31 faculty, it March is an opportunity to
in celebration of Women’s His-
Social Media Hashtag campaign #shsugirlpower recognize women tory Week 1 Challenge—March 5: Post influential a picture of a female hero in your life,Month. and a short reason why she is important. deceased,include film screenings, around campusIt could and beinsomeone Texas.living or Events famous or not. The College of Education and panel discussions, lectures and Week 2 Challenge—March 12: Post a book or article by a female author. Give even a conversation with uniWomen’s the History title, author,the and College why you likeofit. Humanities and Week 3 Challenge—March 26: Post a quote by anwill influential Social Sciences (CHSS) hostwoman. versity President Dana G. Hoyt for Sam Houston
SHARON RAISSI Campus Culture Editor
March is Month, and multiple events through March later in March. On Thursday, the State University students and Sponsored by the College of Education Equity in Action Committee and College of Humanities and Social Sciences Diversity and Inclusion Committee
Diversity Council will hold the event “Why Do Women Hate Women?” and on Friday a panel discussion of female studentleaders at SHSU will take place in the Olson Auditorium in Academic Building IV. “We reached out to women that are leaders of various organizations on campus,” Associate Dean of the College of Education Jannah Nerren said. “We cast a very wide net because we want the panel to be diverse in every way. [We want the panel] to represent different types of organizations, to represent students who come from different disciplines, who are studying different things, as well as racial diversity.” In addition to the events of Women’s History Month, a social media campaign has been started. Each week in March, students and faculty are encouraged to post a picture on their social media with the hashtag #shsugirlpower. Each week includes a different challenge. The first week’s challenge is to post a picture of a personal female hero; the following week’s challenge is to post a book or article by a female author, then the final week’s challenge is to post a quote by an influential woman. All thirteen events scattered throughout March in some way include discussions from and about influential women of the past and present. Nerren discussed why the events of Women’s Month at SHSU are important to her. “Women’s history has not always been on the forefront, there has been inadequate exposure of women’s issues and history,”
Nerren said. “We really want to promote the leadership of women, and the leadership of our Bearkat women. We want [audiences] to have the opportunity to see the leaders that have come before and for them to be able to contribute to the conversation.” That conversation, in this case, is all about influential women and why we should pay attention to their contributions. Nerren stressed the importance of having a diverse representation of women from all disciplines and walks of life. Events like “Gender Issues and Opportunities in the Workplace” on March 28 and “Women in the Muslim World” on March 29 help round out the discussions. “I represent the College of Education and our Equity in Action Committee, and my co-chair is Dr. Wesley Phelps, who is Assistant Professor of History,” Nerren said. “He represents the CHSS and their Equity and Inclusion Committee. It’s a collaborative effort of our two colleges—specifically the committees that are committed to equity and diversity— that are sponsoring the events.” Aside from the College of Education and the CHSS, other organizations are involved in some aspects of Women’s History Month, as well. The Bearkat History Club will co-sponsor a screening of the film “Frida” on March 7, and the Veteran’s Resource Center and the Campus Veteran’s Association will host the Women and the Military Social Hour on March 23. All events of Women’s History Month are free of charge and open to all SHSU students and faculty.
Leslie Suggs navigates career crossroads RACHAEL VARNER Senior Reporter When one door closes, another one opens—or so the saying goes. For young adults just starting to find their way into the world, this can be a challenge. Students always have the choice of either staring at the closed door or searching for opportunities that may push them toward a brighter, happier and more fulfilling future. Leslie Suggs is a 2005 Sam Houston State University graduate with an eye for art and a
heart for others. With a diverse set of interests and skills, she could have chosen to serve in a variety of fields. Her ceaseless desire to improve herself only expanded those horizons. As a journalism major and photography minor, however, her interests and skillsets intersected in the realm of graphic design. Still, she did not arrive at that decision immediately. After considering careers as a history teacher, a massage therapist and a magazine editor, she finally found a field that catered to her desire for change, maneuverability and the freedom
to create. Little did she know, however, that she would not only be changing majors, but changing schools. “[Texas A&M University was] in the midst of a lot of structural changes in the liberal arts department, and journalism just happened to be one of the things that got cut during my freshman year,” Suggs said. “That ended up being a good thing because it forced me to look at other opportunities, specifically at Sam.” Included in those opportunities was the chance to expand upon her knowledge of photog-
raphy, which had been a hobby of hers but not something she considered pursuing full-time until she transferred. In fact, it was the first photography class required for her major that she credits with offering her a new perspective on the world. This cross-section of journalism and photography is where graphic design flourishes, but it was actually her heart for others that wedged her foot through that door. Her church family at Oak Ridge Baptist Church was going through a time of turmoil: toxic mold forced them to tear down their building, and
they lost a lot of their staff. The congregation gathered in local schools for close to 10 years until it was able to rebuild in 2009. For part of that time, Suggs made herself useful by creating background slides for the music and sermons. Her efforts there provided her with some, but not all, of the experience required for the next job in her sights. By then, she was working at a church charity, but she knew from the start that this would not be permanent. Visit HoustonianOnline.com for the entire article.
The Houstonian | HoustonianOnline.com/sports | Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Page 4 Oramas continued, page 1 — and assists this season, posting 10 points per game while notching 3.2 assists per game. She played in 26 of 27 contests in 2017-18 as the Kats finished with a 4-23 overall record. The Houstonian published an article on Feb. 14 regarding student athletes and social media. According to Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations Jason Barfield, each team has athletes on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) that internally monitor social media accounts so there is not much administrative involvement. Adrian Contreras, junior safety for SHSU football and representative for SHSU SAAC, reinforced that social media can be used by student athletes in a beneficial way. “You don’t want to do anything or put anything out there that would make the institution or yourself look bad,” Contreras said. “That’s pretty simple. The thing is when you hear about social media and the NCAA, it can have a negative connotation but it can be used in such a positive way, like promoting our [school] name and other teams at the school.” Former Bearkat Athletes Respond A handful of former Bearkat athletes have already spoken on the situation via social media. “I don’t understand how y’all can fight for this girl to be expelled for this,” P.J. Hall, the FCS all-time leader in tackles for loss and former Bearkat defensive lineman, said in a tweet early Tuesday morning. “Y’all really want this girl to fail. I was raised to pray for people so they fix their problems, not help add fuel so they can have their life ruined. I pray for those who do wrong also.” SHSU all-time leader in made three pointers Dakarai Henderson is a strong advocate of the black community and once raised his fist during the national anthem before a basketball game. Along with Hall and former running back Remus Bulmer, Henderson expressed his thoughts on Twitter early Tuesday morning. “I like the energy and coming together through negativity,” Henderson said. “But where was that same energy when someone is trying to do something positive? Let alone support? Where’s the wave at? Why we only blow up negative situations? All that talent at SHSU and that’s the only thing that’s trending?”
/HoustonianSHSU @HoustonianSHSU @HoustonianSHSU
SLC basketball tourney tips off Gabriel Myers breaks down Kats’ chances
Graphic created by Jordan Likens | The Houstonian TIME TO SHINE. The road to a Southland Conference men’s basketball championship runs through Katy. The SLC Tournament tips off Wednesday at the Leonard E. Merrell Center. Sam Houston State University Bearkats enter as the No. 4 seed. Gabe Myers predicts the tournament outcome.
GABRIEL MYERS Sports Writer Despite losing its last two games of the regular season, the Sam Houston State University Bearkats men’s basketball team grabbed the No. 4 seed in the upcoming Southland Conference Tournament. The conference tournament will take place Wednesday through Saturday at the Leonard E. Merrell Center in Katy. Claiming the fourth spot was crucial for the Bearkats because they will get a bye on Wednesday, meaning they will only have to win three games Thursday through Saturday, as opposed to the No. 5 through No. 8 seeds having to win four games over four days in order to win the tournament. In their first game on Thursday, the Bearkats will play the winner of the No. 5 New Orleans Privateers and the No. 8 Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders. The Bearkats have a
combined record of 3-0 against those two teams, beating the Islanders twice and the Privateers once in the regular season. The Bearkats and Privateers played three weeks ago in Huntsville, and SHSU won a tightly contested game 57-54. In that game the Privateers were without senior forward Travin Thibodeaux; Thibodeaux leads the Privateers in points, rebounds, and assists per game this season. He has not played since Feb.17 due to what the team is only referring to as disciplinary reasons, so it is unknown whether or not Thibodeaux will play in Katy. The Islanders also played the Bearkats close in Huntsville about one month ago when the Bearkats held on to a 66-64 win thanks to Joseph Kilgore missing a shot at the buzzer for the Islanders. Kilgore, like Thibodeaux, also leads his team in points, rebounds and assists this season. The Islanders are in the tournament thanks to beating McNeese and Houston Baptist in the final week of the regular season and winning a three-way tiebreaker with MSU and Abilene Christian. If the Bearkats win the first game they will take on the Southeastern Louisiana University Lions, who are the top seed and regular season cochampions. The Lions, like the Privateers, are also facing heavy adversity heading to Katy. The
team is without two starters right now: James Currington and Jabbar Singleton. Currington was released from the hospital Sunday, but head coach Jay Ladner said he would not return this season. Singleton was arrested and booked last week for illegal discharge of a firearm and carrying a firearm while on school property in connections with the shooting that injured Currington. The Lions still have talent, as they have the Southland Conference defensive player of the year Marlain Veal. The Lions were able to beat co-champion (and No. 2 seed) Nicholls State on Saturday without those two players, but the Lions certainly are not at full strength going into the tournament. The Bearkats also beat the Lions in their lone meeting of the season in Huntsville on Jan. 24, 75-65. The Bearkats were 4-0 in the 2018 regular season against teams on their side of the bracket. UNO/TAMU-CC and SLU is the Bearkats path to the conference title game. Should they get to that game, they could face SFA, NSU, Lamar, or UCA. Against that side of the bracket the Bearkats are a combined 2-5, splitting the two games with Lamar and UCA, while finishing 0-1 against NSU and 0-2 against SFA. The two most likely opponents would be SFA or NSU. The Lumberjacks beat the Colo-
nels in their only meeting of the season 81-64 in Nacogdoches in what could be a conference tournament semifinal preview. For the Bearkats to win the tournament they will need strong play from senior forward Chris Galbreath, who was named first team all-conference on Monday. Galbreath leads the Bearkats in points (15.2) and rebounds (7.9) per game this season, and he leads the conference in double doubles. Junior guards Marcus Harris (10.1 ppg) and John Dewey III (9.8 ppg) also figure to play key roles in the tournament, as guard play is key in any basketball tournament environment and they are the team’s second and third leading scorers, respectively. Senior forward Jamal Williams will also be an X-factor for the Bearkats. The man who plays the “Jack of all Trades” role does a little bit of everything. Williams is the Bearkats’ fourth leading scorer (8.1 ppg), second leading rebounder (5.5 rpg) and leads the team in steals (1.1 spg). Williams made possibly the single biggest play of the season in last year’s conference tournament, with a steal that led to a layup in the last two minutes of the quarterfinal against HBU. Williams does not always make the headlines, but he could be the key to a championship run for the Bearkats.
The Houstonian every Wednesdays weekly edition