Thursday night, head coach Tim Carter waswatching a video collage of last season.

   He saw the team’s star player, LeRoyHurd, speaking at the press conference after UTSA’s NCAATournament opponent was announced.

   As Hurd spoke  to the cameras about theseason, about the program, and about his teammates, he got chokedup and tears formed in his eyes.

   “That right there is what it’s allabout,” Carter said. “He really sold out to theprogram, and he took this team to the tournament.”

   Carter is hoping this year’s team isjust as passionate.

   Saturday afternoon, the long road back to thetourney officially began as all college teams held their firstofficial practice of the season.

   “It was a good day,” said Carter,who is in his tenth season as UTSA’s head coach. “Allof the upperclassmen did a good job of helping out the newguys.”

   Sophomore guard Kurt Attaway saidthere’s a new intensity there because of their toughnon-conference schedule.

   “We have some tough games early; we knowevery single practice is very, very important,” said Attaway,last season’s Southland Conference (SLC) Freshman of theYear.

   UTSA’s 19-14 record last season endedwith the players cutting down the nets after the  (SLC)Championship game. It was the third time UTSA advanced to the NCAATournament, two of them coming in the past five years.     

   However, history is not on UTSA’s side.The team has never made it to the NCAA Tournament in back-to-backyears.

   The players are hoping history won’trepeat itself.

   “We know it’s going to be 10-20times harder than it was last year, but we also think we’rehungrier now,” said Attaway, who started all 33 games,averaging 7.4 points per game.

   After the loss to Stanford in the first roundof the tourney last year, it left the team with a bitter taste intheir mouth. After the game, Hurd said the team set their goals toolow. Instead of just making it to the tournament, he said theirgoal should have been to make it to the tournament and win agame.

   This year’s team ensured that highergoals were set.

   “Our ultimate goal is to win a game inthe tournament, but we understand there are other things we have todo before we get there,” Attaway said. “We have tohonestly take it one game at a time, and act like we’replaying 27 different seasons.”

   However, UTSA lost LeRoy “Duke”Hurd, the best player in the Southland Conference, to graduation.He led UTSA in scoring 21 times and led them in rebounding 18. Hisleague-high 19.4 points per game will be hard to replace.

   “You can never just fill in another guyfor Duke,”Carter said. “You just have to compensate forit.”

   Current San AntonioSpur Devin Brown played hisfinal season for UTSA three years ago. Following Brown’sdeparture, the team crumbled, something Carter doesn’t seehappening again.

   “That team just wasn’t very good.This team has more talent and the chemistry is there,” Cartersaid.

   This year’s team does have returnersthat played solid minutes last season, including David President,the team’s most experienced player who has started 65 gamesfor UTSA.

   “I think you’ll see more of a teamgame,”Attaway said. “Last year, you knew Duke was goingto score, but now they won’t know who it will comefrom.”

   The Roadrunners might not know who will givethem the points, either.

   The top returning point scorer is seniorRapheal Posey, who averaged 11.4 points per game.  He becamethe team’s sixth man, coming off the bench to spark theteam’s sometimes stagnant offense.

   Because of their finish last year, the teamknows they will have a target on their back throughout theseason.

   “We already had a talk with the playersabout them being targets,”Carter said. “Hopefully, itwill motivate them.”

   UTSA will play a 27-game schedule that startswith a four-game homestand and includes games against Texas, KansasState, Wichita State, New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech.

 

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