This item originally appeared in the November 4, 2004 issue of The Tech Talk.
Every program experiences the growing pains of rebuilding after several years of high achievement spurred by a talented class of athletes.
After the loss of seniors Lavelle Felton, Antonio Meeking, Zach Johnson, Darrian Brown and Michael Wilder in 2003, the Bulldog basketball team embarked on a successful rebuilding season last year by posting a 15-15 overall record with an 8-10 Western Athletic Conference record.
However, Tech's head coach Keith Richard and staff have put together a brilliant 2004-05 squad, along with last year's top returnees -- and consider this program rebuilt.
Tech won its first exhibition bout of the season Monday night against Ouachita Baptist University 83-76, and the Bulldogs were by no surprise led by sophomore sensation Paul Millsap, who recorded 23 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks.
And while most of the preseason attention has rightfully spotlighted Millsap, Tech fans will be ecstatic to find a true point guard in transfer Daevon Haskins, who is expected to be the leader and sparkplug of the Bulldogs' newly found explosive offense, as he was at South Plains Junior College.
Haskins, who averaged 10.6 points and 5.6 assists per game last year at South Plains, recorded 11 points and five steals against OBU and, most importantly, dished out eight assists with only two turnovers.
Tech's offense produced 83 points and connected on 44.1 percent of its shots against the Tigers, and Richard could not have been happier with his discovery of the Bulldogs offensive outburst.
After Tech posted only 67 points per game last season and a field goal percentage of .431, Richard said he would like to increase the Bulldogs' total to 72 points per game this season.
A worthy goal for team field goal percentage would be 47 percent, and this talented offense, comprised of top scorers Millsap, Haskins, Corey Dean, Donell Allick, Wayne Powell and Jason Bray, is capable of producing those numbers.
Dean, Allick and Powell posted 12.7, 11.2 and 9.2 points per game last season, respectively. Bray, a transfer from Collin County Junior College, is a three-point specialist who drained 108 three-pointers last season and hit 38 percent of his attempts from the arc.
However, the Bulldogs must improve defensively. Last year Tech gave up only 66.5 points per game and stifled its opponents to a .421 field goal percentage.
OBU's speed and athleticism bolted the Tigers to 76 points and posed problems for Tech, but the Bulldogs must rediscover that terrorizing defense from last year's squad.
Richard called OBU a smaller version of UL-Lafayette, who Tech will open the regular season against at the LSU Tournament on Nov. 19.
The Bulldogs have the schedule to make a name for themselves this year, starting at the LSU Tournament. With a win over UL-Lafayette, Tech will play the winner of LSU and Tulane in the tournament championship.
Then the Bulldogs will travel to Auburn, Alabama-Birmingham and Memphis on Dec. 20 before the tough WAC schedule.
Tech's second exhibition match will be on Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. against VASDA, after the Lady Techsters begin the doubleheader at 6 p.m.
Wear a blue shirt and come out to support Tech's basketball teams in an exciting start to hopeful dynamic seasons.
Josh Milton is a junior journalism major from Ruston and serves as sports editor for The Tech Talk.