0

Tourney Talk: CHD sits down with Northwestern State players James Hulbin and Jalan West

On Saturday night Northwestern State beat Stephen F. Austin in the Southland Conference tourney title game to earn an automatic bid to next week’s NCAA tournament. The Demons went 16-16 in 2012, but bounced back in 2013 to claim the school’s first NCAA tourney bid since 2006. Earlier today Jon Teitel spoke with senior James Hulbin and freshman Jalan West about what it feels like to make the tourney.

hulbin

James Hulbin

You had a 4-PT loss to Oklahoma back in November: how close did you come to pulling out the win? It was a roller coaster type of game, and we just came up short.

You are the highest scoring team in the country and are 15-1 when scoring 80+ PPG: do you think that “offense wins championships”? Defense wins championships, but we put up a lot of points.

You have a pair of identical freshmen twins (Austin/Dustin Adams) as teammates: how on earth do you tell them apart!? I really cannot: I just call them the twins!

DeQuan Hicks intercepted a pass in the final seconds to clinch your 2-PT win over Stephen F. Austin in the conference tourney title game on Saturday: where does that rank among your team’s defensive plays of the season, and how were you able to score 68 points against the #1 scoring defense in the country? It was 1 of our biggest stops of the year. We sped them up by running up and down the court, which is the kind of tempo we like.

Jalan West redshirted in 2012 and was named conference ROY in 2013: how was he able to come in and contribute as a freshman? He was a major contributor to the team: he has an amazing basketball IQ for someone at such a young age. He makes the right decision most of the time.

You graduated in December: what kind of maturity/veteran leadership do you bring to your team? I have been through a lot. I am a 5th-year guy, so I know what the coach is like and how important it is to stay together as a team.

You won 13 of your last 15 games: do you think your team is playing its best basketball of the season right now? Yes: we are continuing to gel and grow together.

Shamir Davis was named 2013 conference tourney MVP: what makes him such a great player, and how crucial is he to your team’s success next week? Shamir is a great offensive player. He is more of a scoring guard, but can handle the ball. Whatever we need him to do, he will do it.

Coach Mike McConathy is the winningest Louisiana men’s college basketball coach ever: what makes him such a great coach, and what is the most important thing that you ever learned from him? The way he runs his system is to keep guys fresh with 5 in and 5 out all the time. He is very humble and keeps us on the right path in life.

What seed do you think you deserve, and what seed do you think you will get? I think we deserve no worse than a #12-seed, but I think we will get a #13 or #14-seed.

jalan

Jalan West

You had a 4-PT loss to Oklahoma back in November: how close did you come to pulling out the win? It was a great game: we were up in the final 2 minutes, but they did a good job of stopping us down the stretch.

You are the highest scoring team in the country and are 15-1 when scoring 80+ PPG: do you think that “offense wins championships”? I would say that offense does help us win a lot of games.  We are known for offense, but we have made a lot of defensive stops when we needed them down the stretch.

You have a pair of identical freshmen twins (Austin/Dustin Adams) as teammates: how on earth do you tell them apart!? When they 1st came here I could not tell them apart, but then I realized that they have different faces.

DeQuan Hicks intercepted a pass in the final seconds to clinch your 2-PT win over Stephen F. Austin in the conference tourney title game on Saturday: where does that rank among your team’s defensive plays of the season, and how were you able to score 68 points against the #1 scoring defense in the country? DeQuan’s steal is probably #1. They held us below our scoring average, but we did a great job of hanging in and scoring the ball. I just wished we could have scored 70 points because nobody else did that against them all year.

You redshirted in 2012 and was named conference ROY in 2013: how were you able to come in and contribute as a freshman, and how bad is your left ankle after you twisted it late in the game Saturday? Last year allowed me to see where my teammates like to catch the ball and learn their strengths/weaknesses. They believed in me and we help lead each other. I sprained my ankle earlier this year, but I am coming in twice/day to get treatment from our trainer.

James Hulbin graduated in December: what kind of maturity/veteran leadership does he bring to your team? He is 1 of my best friends. When things are not going right he will calm me down and tell me what to do right, and he listens to me as well when things are not going right for him. He leads us both on and off the court: graduating was 1 of the greatest accomplishments of his life.

You won 13 of your last 15 games: do you think your team is playing its best basketball of the season right now? I do not know about the best, but we are playing pretty well. I think we can do better on defense and could score a little more. If we start scoring again, I think we can be a great team.

Shamir Davis was named 2013 conference tourney MVP: what makes him such a great player, and how crucial is he to your team’s success next week? Shamir is very important to our team: he can attack or shoot the 3 or pass or play defense whatever we need him to do. I look up to him and he has helped me off the court in the classroom as well as with drills to work on my game in practice.

Coach Mike McConathy is the winningest Louisiana men’s college basketball coach ever: what makes him such a great coach, and what is the most important thing that you ever learned from him? He is a great coach. He tells us how important it is to succeed in the classroom, and has graduated almost all of his players. He makes us appreciate what we have in life and is a big believer in God.

What seed do you think you deserve, and what seed do you think you will get? Probably a #14-seed, but we might get a #15-seed. We are thankful for whatever we get, and I thank our coaching staff for preparing us in everything that led up to this moment.

JonTeitel