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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

‘Get that respect’: Men’s basketball looks to build off Sun Belt titles

Texas+State+senior+guard+Mason+Harrell+%2812%29+takes+a+free-throw+shot+during+a+game+against+Coastal+Carolina%2C+Sat.+Feb+5%2C+2022%2C+at+Strahan+Arena.+The+Bobcats+won+69-64.

Texas State senior guard Mason Harrell (12) takes a free-throw shot during a game against Coastal Carolina, Sat. Feb 5, 2022, at Strahan Arena. The Bobcats won 69-64.

After winning the Sun Belt regular-season championship last year for the first time in over 20 years, it would have been easy for the Texas State men’s basketball team to become complacent. The Bobcats used this season to do the exact opposite and became back-to-back conference champions for the first time in school history.
With an ending overall record of 21-8 and a Sun Belt Conference record of 12-3, second year head coach and back-to-back Sun Belt Coach of the Year Terrence Johnson and the Bobcats worked hard to stay at the top of the conference rankings for the majority of the season.
The regular season ended with a bang for the Bobcats as they won their last nine games in a row and didn’t lose a single game during the month of February, which is a record that spans back to last season. Johnson credits the hard work, dedication and focuses on mental and physical health that the team displayed as the foundation for their success.
“The success of it is really on the kids,” Johnson said. “A byproduct of them buying in, a byproduct of them connecting and gelling, and a byproduct of their hard work and dedication … the most important thing is the mental, physical and emotional health of these young student athletes.”
With the spike in COVID-19 cases that hit the U.S. at the beginning of the calendar year, Texas State was forced to cancel games against South Alabama, Georgia Southern and Georgia State. However, despite having to celebrate the first conference championship in his car last year, Johnson was able to celebrate this year with his team. The pandemic also gave players like senior guard Mason Harrell, who earned second team all-conference, an extra year of NCAA eligibility.
In an announcement via social media on April 7, Harrell gave appreciation to the Texas State basketball program and announced that he would be returning for another season.
“I just feel like we’re still not respected in the Sun Belt. So, I want to come back and get that respect,” Harrell said.
Harrell and Johnson were not the only Bobcats to be awarded for their performances this past season. As the team’s leading scorer, senior guard Caleb Asberry, was selected for the All-Sun Belt Conference first team. Asberry averaged 13.4 points and led the Bobcats in three-pointers made.
Johnson’s second Sun Belt Coach of the Year award makes him the first coach in the history of the program to win the title in back-to-back years. The team is proud of the individual success but has bigger aspirations as a collective.
“It’s why you do it, you want to give yourself an opportunity to compete and be the best,” Johnson said. “It’s a balance, and I’m super proud of the fact that we figured out one part and I’m excited about taking the steps to figure out the next.”
As exciting as the 2021-22 season was on the court, a specific Bobcat had an even more monumental experience off the court. Senior guard Shelby Adams became Texas State’s all-time leader in games played this year while also planning a wedding and getting married during the middle of the season.
“A lot of times we might try to take the game for granted,” Adams said. “Anything could happen on any given night … you could get hurt, or get sick, or anything drastic like that could happen, so just to be able to have that accomplishment is huge for me and I’m very blessed to have done that.”
After graduating, Adams plans to relocate with his family and play basketball overseas.
“I’m moving to Japan with my wife and my son. We move there around May,” Adams said. “Playing basketball over there, just continuing to pursue my dream of playing basketball. I’ve loved the sport ever since I was little, it was my first love.”
Although the Bobcats had a very impressive regular season, it ended sooner than they had hoped. After winning last year’s regular season championship, that became the starting point for their goals. For the second time in two years, Texas State entered the Sun Belt Conference Tournament as the first seed but fell short in the first round, this year against the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns.
The coaching staff plans to use this off-season to figure out how to get over that first round hump and make a deep run in the tournament.
“We want to make some adjustments, mainly in our mindset and our approach,” Johnson said. “The definition of insanity, we don’t want to do the same thing and expect different results.”
A third consecutive Sun Belt regular-season championship would put the program in elite company, as that has only been done twice in the history of the conference; once in 1983-1985 by Virginia Commonwealth and again in 2001-2003 by Western Kentucky. 
Texas State looks to maintain its regular-season success while figuring out how to capitalize on it into the postseason. The Bobcats enter the offseason with the goal of getting their new players adjusted to the system and winning their third consecutive Sun Belt Championship.
“Really trying to build on and get ready for the summertime,” Harrell said. “With all the new guys coming in, get ready to try and go get a three-peat.”

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