We head to Conway as the #7 seed and have a date with #2 seeded UTSA in the opening match of the 2011 Southland Conference Tournament. The match this past weekend against Lamar left a lot to be desired after one of the more uninspiring performances SFA has played through this year left us with a 3-1 defeat in Beaumont.
Instead of moving up to the #5 seed, Lamar will have that honor and take on host UCA in the nightcap on the first day of action this coming Friday evening. Lamar head coach Justin Gibert has been a strong supporter of my efforts here at the blog. Justin and I exchange emails fairly regularly and along with our own coaches, parents, players, opponent parents and coaches, has been one of the folks I believe I've learned a little from during the past few years that I have been writing in this space. Of course, I remember Justin from his days as an assistant to Debbie Humphreys in Nacogdoches. I was a fan and fan only during those days - not working or writing in any official capacity during those years.
Before the match in Beaumont, I got a short tour of the volleyball setup in McDonald Gym. The facility of offices is quite nice having been recently built and appeared to be kept in very sparkling condition. About an hour before first serve, Coach Gibert and I got a chance to visit in a "ready room" on the south end of the McDonald Gym setup... away from the gym itself. Our thorough conversation is included below.
My final question to Justin concerned impressive players he has seen around the conference in 2011. Toward this end, I will post my 3rd Annual SFAVolleyBlog.net All Conference Teams on either Monday or Tuesday of this week. I anticipate the leagues' official announcements of All-Conference Selections will appear on Wednesday.
If you care to review the last two years of my picks they appear here (2010) and here (2009). I got a little less flak last year than two years ago, so hopefully I can make some sensible picks.. well, sensible in the eyes of others... gosh knows I'll be able (for good or bad) to defend my selections.
We'll also talk more about the tournament as we near Friday. I will have a live chat going during our first round game and will blog live throughout the tournament from Conway. I hope also this week to post an "Eat Crow" article concerning Northwestern State and get an interview with a few NSU coaches and players done on Friday in Conway.