By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (March 10, 2016) — Lonn Reisman says he would rather not change rules during an ongoing season, but overall isn’t too concerned about the foul limit switching from five to six per player.
The 28th year Tarleton State head coach even joked about the matter as his Texans gear up for their seventh consecutive NCAA Division II South Central Regional appearance. They face Colorado School of Mines at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at D.L. Ligon Coliseum in Wichita Falls.
“Is it an advantage or a disadvantage?” Reisman asked rhetorically. “Well if we have a guy out there with five fouls and he’s still scoring points and contributing to what we’re doing then I’ll tell you it’s an advantage. If the other team has a guy out there with five fouls and he’s still scoring against us, then I’ll tell you it’s a disadvantage.”
Makes sense, but that’s not even the biggest way Reisman says six fouls will impact the game.
“I think the biggest thing is you won’t see coaches be as quick to pull a guy out of the game when he gets his second foul, or his third foul, depending on when it is,” said Reisman, who has guided Tarleton to three NCAA regional titles and two national semifinal appearances. “This does give us the opportunity to keep our best players on the court for a greater period of time. Of course it gives our opponent, whether that’s Colorado Mines or whoever it may be, the same opportunity.”
Tarleton has had its share of foul trouble, and like most teams, it’s primarily been among its interior post players.
Leading scorer EJ Reed has fouled out 10 times this season. Tarleton is just 6-4 in those games, while going 15-4 in its remaining contests. Reed averages 17.6 boards and is second on the team at 7.0 rebounds per game.
Leading rebounder Romond Jenkins has fouled out six times in 21 games after becoming eligible at the conclusion of the fall semester. Tarleton is 3-3 when Jenkins fouls out, and 11-4 when he doesn’t.
“Obviously you are a better basketball team when your best players are either on the court or at least getting ready to get back out on the court,” Reisman said. “EJ has led us in scoring all year and is obviously a vital part of every game plan. And Ro has improved tremendously and is another player we need to keep out there because he’s a great rebounder and defender and he’s developed a nice finishing touch underneath the basket.”
Jenkins averages 6.7 points and 7.5 boards, but those numbers don’t tell the whole story. The 6-8 center steadily increased his production throughout the regular season, and dramatically increased it in the Lone Star Conference Championship tournament, when he posted two double-doubles in a game and a half but was left off the all-tournament team. Jenkins had 14 points and 12 boards in a win over Texas A&M-Commerce and 16 points with 16 rebounds in a loss to Angelo State. Over the last six games, Jenkins averages a double-double with 11.8 points and 11 boards.
No other Tarleton player has fouled out more than once this season. Even Malcolm Hamilton, who drew a suspension for receiving three technical fouls during the season, has fouled out just once. So has Michael Hardge – the only Texan to start all 29 games – as well as forward Xavier Smith and guards Charles Hill and Nosa Ebomwonyi. No other Tarleton player has fouled out at all.
“You’re going to have guys who are more aggressive than others, and you have guys who just seem to get every whistle, but I don’t think adding a foul for each player really changes any of that,” Reisman said. “Our thought process as far as game planning and scouting won’t change at all, there just might be a little more strategy involved when it comes to deciding whether to keep someone out there a little more than you normally would with two fouls, or even when they get three or four depending where we’re at in the game.”
South Central Region Championship at D.L. Ligon Coliseum in Wichita Falls:
Saturday || Quarterfinals
Noon: 2 Fort Lewis College vs. 7 Dallas Baptist
2:30 p.m.: 3 Angelo State vs. 6 Arkansas-Fort Smith
6 p.m.: 1 Midwestern State vs. 8 Lubbock Christian
8:30 p.m.: 1 Tarleton State vs. Colorado School of Mines
Sunday || Semifinals
5 p.m.: FLC/DBU vs. ASU/UAFS
7:30 p.m.: MSU/LCU vs. TSU/CSM
Tuesday || Championship
7 p.m.: FLC/DBU/ASU/UAFS vs. MSU/LCU/TSU/CSM