Tarleton State men’s basketball program has always been known for their tough man-to-man defense.
But a change in defensive philosophy has spurred the Texans to familiar territory and a six-game win streak under first-year head coach Chris Reisman.
Reisman was named head coach on March 23 after his father and legendary head coach Lonn Reisman stepped down after 30 years as Texans head coach to focus on his duties as athletic director.
Lonn Reisman left big shoes for his son to fill after winning 691 career games including 654 wins in building Tarleton State into a national powerhouse. Lonn Reisman was renowned for his man-to-man defensive philosophy while leading the Texans to 14 appearances in the NCAA DII playoffs and four Elite Eight appearances.
Chris Reisman was no stranger to his father’s success as he played for his father for four seasons before spending 17 years as an assistant coach including the last 12 seasons as associate head coach for the Texans.
“I’ve been trained by a guy for 30 years that was a great man-to-man coach and I’m a man-to-man guy but I’m more of a winning guy,” Reisman said.
Being more of a “winning guy” led Reisman to change his team’s defensive philosophy to a zone defense after struggling early in the season playing man-to-man.
“We’re just not great in the man,” Reisman said. “We’ve got a lot of length on our back row and we’ve got some quick guys that anticipate well.”
The Texans are led by 6-foot-7 junior forward Josh Hawley from Irving MacArthur High School who is averaging 17.3 points and 10 rebounds on the season. Hawley also leads the team with 26 steals and is second with 14 blocked shots this season.
6-foot-7 sophomore forward Clashon Gaffney from Clarksville High School has taken a bigger role in the front court and leads the Texans with 19 blocked shots this season.
Senior guard Corinthian Ramsey plays a vital role for the Texans with his quickness and ball handling in the back court. The 5-foot-10 Arlington native is averaging 13.9 points per game and leads the Texans with 56 assists on the season.
Tarleton State is currently 12-2 on the season and 3-1 in the Lone Star Conference. The Texans also entered the NABC NCAA DII Coaches’ Poll at No. 23 this week.
“The zone has kind of been the turnaround to our season right now,” Reisman said.” They’ve bought into it and I think it’s something that we’ve been successful in so we’re sticking with it.”
The Texans have a huge challenge awaiting them Thursday night as they travel to Texas A&M-Commerce for an LSC battle. The Lions are 12-2 on the season and 4-0 in the conference.
“They’re well coached and they’ve got a lot of guys with experience in this league. They were an NCAA tournament team last year,” Reisman said. “They’re going to be extremely well prepared for us. They’re going to try and impose their will on the both the offensive and defensive side.”
As for the Texans, Reisman expects his team to have to play through adversity in the tough road environment.
“For us it’s about going in there and not backing down. I don’t think we’ll be intimidated, but I think we’re going to have to play through adversity,” said Reisman. “It’s going to be two heavyweights that are going to go blow to blow.”
Cory Hogue is Dave Campbell's Texas Basketball small college correspondent follow him on Twitter at @HoagieSports and be sure to visit his website (linked below) for more coverage of Division II and Division III collegiate athletics.