UTSA’s offseason upgrades


Photo courtesy of Jacob Hernandez/UTSA Athletics

John Buggs III speaking to the fans at Rowdy Jam.

Luke Lawhorn, Sports Editor

UTSA basketball will start their 2022-2023 schedule at the beginning of November. After challenging season performances and weaker conference play, the men’s and women’s teams hope for stronger performances. Though neither team has had a deep run in the tournament in several years, changes in the offseason give the Roadrunners hope for this upcoming season. 

The men finished second to last in the West division with a 10-22 overall record and went 3-15 in Conference USA. The only team with a worse record was Southern Miss, who UTSA lost to in the first round. The men are coming off a far more disappointing season than the women and also did not add too significant of additions. Starting guard Darius McNeil and closer Djieu Dieng are no longer on the roster, as McNeil transferred to Troy and Dieng declared for the National Basketball Association’s draft. Dieng contributed 341 points last season, and McNeil added 178 points and 53 assists. However, UTSA did add John Buggs III, Carlton Linguard Jr., Massal Diouf and DJ Richards, who they hope might fix UTSA’s defensive problem and lack of consistent scoring. 

The first game for the men will come on Nov. 2, which is an exhibition game against Schreiner. They will then play five regular season games before hosting the 210 San Antonio Shootout from Nov. 25-28, featuring teams such as UIW, Dartmouth and Grambling State. The Roadrunners will start well and likely lose a maximum of one game in November as they will not play a team that matches their talent level. At the beginning of December, UTSA goes on the road to play New Mexico and Pac-12 school Utah. The Roadrunners will play their first C-USA opponent on Dec. 22, where they will host North Texas. There will be 19 more conference games to end the season schedule on March 2 before the conference tournament on March 8-11. 

The men had a 15-11 record in the 2020-2021 season; however, they lost in the tournament’s second round. Coach Steve Henson is entering his seventh year at UTSA. Despite winning C-USA coach of the year in 2017-18, Henson has never gotten the Roadrunners past the second round, adding a little more pressure to this upcoming season. 

Jacob Germany is the biggest returner for UTSA. The senior from Kingston, Oklahoma, led the team in points per game (15.2), rebounds per game (7.3) and blocks per game (0.8) while also adding 10 double-doubles on the season. Erik Czumbel and Lachlan Bofinger are also key returners; however, neither averaged more than 4.8 points per game. The addition of Linguard Jr. is vital. The transfer from Big-12 school Kansas State is seven feet tall and helped lead his high school team in back-to-back years to the state tournament. With some extra scoring help for Germany, the Roadrunners can go further than they ever have before. 

UTSA needs to get back to being above .500, and this year a 12-8 conference record is not unrealistic. The ‘Runners can make some noise come the conference tournament. 

The women did win their first tournament game against UTEP; however, they lost in the second round and had the worst record in the West division, winning just three conference games and having a 7-23 overall record. Though the women matched the men with just three conference wins, winning the first round of the tournament was a positive end to the season. Red-shirt sophomore Elyssa Coleman averaged 7.9 points for UTSA but is now a year older and is ready to take the next step to become a leader on the team. 

The women lost LaPraisjah Johnson (8.5 ppg) and Jadyn Pimental (8.2), the two highest leading scorers on the team, but with the new additions to the lineup, those losses will be overlooked. Jordyn Jenkins, a transfer from the University of Southern California, was added to the Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year Award Preseason Watch List and named to the Conference USA Preseason All-Conference Team. She was named the Pac-12 Most Improved Player as she led the Trojans in total points.

The women were picked to finish ninth of the 14 total teams in C-USA in the coaches’ preseason poll. Kyra White is another USC transfer who can make a big impact in the Roadrunners’ season. Though she did not have as significant an impact with the Trojans as Jenkins, White is a former three-time all-state first team honoree and won the 2019 6A state championship at Converse Judson. Unlike the men, the women will have multiple proven players to share the ball and score when needed.

The women’s schedule starts Nov. 7 at Stephen F. Austin, then the team will play Big-12 member TCU on Nov. 16. The first game at the Convocation Center will be the 20th against Abilene Christian. The Roadrunners will then participate in the Las Vegas Invitational tournament on Nov. 25 and 26. The conference schedule will begin against Louisiana Tech on Dec. 29 and will conclude on March 2 against Charlotte. A drastic record improvement such as a 14-6 C-USA record is not unrealistic, and where the men will attempt to win a game or two, the women have added pieces that can get them to the final round in the West side of the bracket.

There is pressure on the men’s team to get to 10 wins in the conference, and if they can win two games in the tournament, the season is a success. The women are now expected to win at least a game, and if they can make noise in C-USA, they will be right on schedule with the program rebuild.