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The Hawkeye

The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe

The Hawkeye

The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe

The Hawkeye

Stars return with high hopes

Hawkeye Archive

With the Nov. 6 tipoff approaching, Keith Richard is preparing to field a men’s basketball team much different from last season. 

Entering his 14th season as the head coach of the Warhawks, Richard boasts about his eight returning players — a rarity in the age of the transfer portal. But he acknowledges that their expectations are much different.

Tyreke Locure, ULM’s leader in points per game (14.4) and steals (1.8,) returns as the only player with consistent starting experience, and even he has a different duty in the new season. Richard said Locure will take over as the primary point guard for the upcoming season.

The other seven returners all vary in experience. Some touched the court in limited minutes, some received the occasional starting assignment and others rarely saw playtime. 

“Our team’s success this year will be because of these eight guys,” Richard said.

He said he expects two forwards to be major contributors in this year’s campaign, just as he expected last season.

But injuries soiled those plans.

Season-ending injuries took away AD Diedhiou prior to the 2022-23 season and then claimed Nika Metskhvarishvili five games into the campaign. Metskhvarishvili started at forward the season prior, and Diedhiou was another forward who Richard expected to contribute.

By the time conference play began Richard was forced to run a tight seven-man rotation most nights. The Warhawks were limited to just two bigs in every outing. Foul trouble easily ruined any game plan. 

“I think we have a chance to have a good team,” Richard said. “I do. I did last year until those two went out. If you think about our season last year, we went 7-11 in conference play without them. Had we had them, I believe we could have finished in the top half of the league.”

As far as guards are concerned, there are more shoes to fill, but two Louisiana locals are poised to take on more work in the new season.

Jalen Bolden and Jacob Wilson both saw the court off and on in their debut season, but Richard said he expects them to show growth after seeing the difference between the high school and collegiate levels.

“We’re extremely happy with those two, and we’re going to reward them by playing them,” Richard said.  “They’re a little more ready now.”

While ULM’s starting five is undergoing a substantial overhaul, Richard said it’s reassuring that other teams in the Sun Belt Conference are going through the same ordeal.

“The league lost a lot of good players through graduation and the portal,” Richard said. “We have just as good a chance to be a good team in this league as a lot of teams.”     

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