Richard shows excitement for new season

Jonah Bostick

With the 2022-23 season upcoming, there is optimism that ULM hasn’t seen in quite some time. Head coach Keith Richard is the source of this optimism.

Richard is heading into his 13th season as ULM’s head basketball coach after being hired as head coach in 2010. Last season, despite starting 8-5 in non-conference play, the Warhawks finished the season with a 5-13 conference record, resulting in a 13-18 overall finish which included a five-game losing streak to end the season.

“The competition is different,” Richard said when asked about the difference between conference and non-conference play. “You get into conference play, there are no bad teams. Everybody’s okay.”

One of the main issues with the team last season was the inability to close out games. Out of the 13 conference losses, eight of them were by less than 10 points.

“We were up in a lot of games, and we couldn’t hold on,” Richard said. “That was kind of the story of the season”

Richard noted that one of the reasons for this issue was the team sometimes wasn’t strong enough. This year Richard has focused on bringing bigger and stronger players to better match up with other schools of the conference. “We tried to get bigger and stronger across the board,” Richard said. “I think we’ve done that in recruiting, and it looks like we have in practice.”

Richard also talked about the depth of the roster compared to the year before. The roster is set up now so that anyone can make an impact and the added depth allows the team to complete a full game.

The Warhawks return Nika Metskhvarishvili and Thomas Howell. Metskhvarishvili averaged 10 points per game last season, and Howell was a starter as a freshman. With the 2022-23 schedule released, Richard can start circling his calendar for games to look forward to. A three-game home stretch right before conference play with Sam Houston State, Lamar and Jacksonville is included in such games.

“Those games in particular are going to tell us where we’re at and how we’re doing before we go into league play,” Richard said. “They’re good teams. They can play in our league.”

ULM starts off the year by traveling to Texas A&M, and in-state matchups for the Warhawks include Northwestern State and Tulane on the road. The Warhawks also participate in the Emerald Coast Classic, which features matchups with TCU and Louisiana Tech.

Richard stated that every game in league play is important and that no one should be overlooked. ULM will be aiming for their first winning conference record since the 2015-16 season. Richard also commented on the expansion of the conference with the four new teams joining and that he was interested in how the teams could impact the Sun Belt.

Richard’s expectations for the upcoming season were both hopeful and realistic. Winning the Sun Belt is the hopeful goal, but finishing with a winning record or placing in the top half of the league is a good goal to accomplish.