The Southwestern University Pirates men's basketball team put together one of its best regular seasons, tying the program record for conference wins in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) at 11-5.
Southwestern University's team-wide success garnered individual recognition with Brandon Alexander winning the SCAC Player of the Year award and Head Coach Janson Hightower earning SCAC Coach of the Year.
Alexander was the conference's fourth-leading scorer at 18.1 points per game, setting the Southwestern University record in that category. The junior forward from Inez, Texas upped his game in conference play, where he averaged 20.0 points per game on 44.5 percent shooting, including 37.5 percent from deep on 7.5 3-points attempts per game.
Brandon is the second Southwestern player to receive the SCAC Player-of-the-Year honors. Aaron Bowser was the first, winning in 2005.
From a previous article:
"To close your eyes and picture a key Southwestern possession is to visualize a whirling smorgasbord of movement. Multiple players are responsible for reads and reactions in what seems an egalitarian system.
Inevitably, though, the ball seems to find the hands of Brandon Alexander.
In conference play, where the strength of schedule equalizes and comparisons are more apt, Alexander was the SCAC's second-leading scorer at 20.0 points per game while averaging a team-high 6.4 rebounds per game on the conference's highest-scoring team at 81.4 points per game.
The misconception of an equal-opportunity offense is there is no central hub. Though the Pirates' offense is capable in multiple hands, it flows because Alexander.
The Pirates' forward is a threat from the moment he crosses half court, hitting the second-most 3-pointers in conference play (45) and the fifth-highest percentage (37.5). Volume and accuracy only partially explain the threat he poses to defenses. Factor in the versatility of his shot—the ability to hit from a standstill, sprinting in transition, curling off a screen, or pulling off the dribble—and his individual offense is a constant stress on defenses.
That versatility also plugs into almost any action, opening up an entire playbook of possibilities for head coach Janson Hightower and assistant Zac Graham."
In his fifth season coaching the team, Hightower led the Pirates to their first share of the SCAC regular season title since 2005, drastically exceeding expectations in a year SCAC coaches ranked the Pirates as fifth in the preseason poll.
Hightower constructed the highest-scoring offense in the SCAC, averaging 81.7 points per game in a system predicated on spacing (second in conference in 3-pointers attempted and 3-point percentage) and ball movement (14.5 assists per game, second in the SCAC).
The coaching staff made several key adjustments throughout the season, moving Andrew Puhl into the starting lineup at the start of conference play and moving Joel Martinez into the starting lineup near the end of the season, paying dividends with a four-game winning streak to capture a share of the regular season title.