Former UTSA pitcher blanks Astros in MLB debut

Justin Anderson, making his major league debut, pitched a scoreless eighth inning Monday night in the Los Angeles Angels’ 2-0 victory over the world champion Houston Astros.

After retiring the first two batters he faced, the former right-handed pitcher for the UTSA Roadrunners yielded singles to George Springer and Jose Altuve.

Next, Anderson faced Carlos Correa with runners at first and third.

But with the Astros’ home crowd in Houston roaring, he didn’t flinch, striking out Correa on a slider to preserve his team’s two-run lead.

A television replay showed a group of friends and fans cheering with enthusiasm as Anderson, a Houston native, walked off the field.

It was the end of a wild day for Anderson, who was called up to the majors from Triple A on Sunday.

Before the Angels-Astros game, he told the Orange County Register that he “broke down” when he got the news of his promotion.

In the next 24 hours, his life was turned upside down, as family and friends touched base to offer congratulations.

“So far it’s been pretty crazy,” Anderson told Jeff Fletcher of the Register. “My phone is blowing up.”

The former Houston schoolboy, who pitched at UTSA from 2012-14, is the second former Roadrunners player to make it to the major leagues.

He follows catcher and former UTSA teammate John Bormann, who made it up for one game with the Pittsburgh Pirates last April.

“I am just proud of Justin and his accomplishment,” UTSA coach Jason Marshall said in a text. “It’s a boyhood dream that so many young guys have but so few ever realize it.”

Anderson, 25, was selected on the 14th round of the 2014 draft out of UTSA.

He started the 2017 season at Inland Empire of the Class A California League and moved up later to the Mobile BayBears, a Class AA team in the Southern League.

This spring, he started at Mobile and recently was pulled up to the Triple-A, Pacific Coast League Salt Lake Bees.

In three appearances for Salt Lake, the 6-3, 220-pound right-hander didn’t allow a run or a hit in five innings over three games.

He struck out six and walked one.

“We’ve seen him for a number of years,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia told the Register. “The reason he’s here is not so much us seeing him, but the adjustments he’s made, using the experience to improve.

“Right now he’s made some big strides, from spring training to now.”

Clearly, it was a moment to savor for Anderson, who was a sophomore in 2013, when Marshall led the Roadrunners to the NCAA tournament in his first year as head coach.

“Justin has continued to make strides through the Angels’ organization, and to be afforded a debut in his hometown and in front of his parents, extended family and friends, I’m sure it’s a memory of a lifetime for him,” the coach said.

Anderson came out of Houston St. Pius X High School and played his first season at UTSA in 2012, when he finished 3-2 in 11 appearances.

He was 0-1 in limited duty in 2013. But by the next season, he started to attract attention, fashioning a 4-5 record with a 2.92 ERA.

Anderson’s call up comes three days before the NFL Draft, when defensive end Marcus Davenport from UTSA is expected to be selected, potentially in the first round.

“It’s one of the most important markers in the life of a college baseball program to have young men reach the pinnacle of the sport,” Marshall said. “As UTSA grows and the athletic programs reach new heights, you are going to see more and more of our athletes play on the big stage.

“For Justin to reach the big leagues just goes to show that the road can start in San Antonio at UTSA, and Major League Baseball is attainable for aspiring young players.”

Drama kings: UTSA beats FIU, 5-4, in 10 innings

Relief ace Derek Craft struck out five in two and a third innings to earn the victory for the Roadrunners. (Photo by Jerry Briggs)

Just call them drama kings for a day.

Leading by three runs on Sunday afternoon, the UTSA Roadrunners allowed the FIU Golden Panthers to score once in the seventh and twice in the eighth to tie the score.

And then, just as it seemed that the Panthers might steal another Conference USA baseball victory in San Antonio, relief pitching ace Derek Craft put a stop it.

Craft struck out five in two-plus innings of scoreless relief, setting the stage for a two-out, 10th-inning rally and a 5-4 win for the Roadrunners.

After Dylan Rock’s single scored Ben Brookover from third, UTSA had emerged with two victories in the three-game series and renewed hope for a strong finish to the season.

UTSA players stormed the field after Rock’s RBI single to left, celebrating a win that boosted the Roadrunners (21-17 overall, 9-8 in conference) into fourth place in the C-USA standings.

“The later we get in the season, any victories are good victories, especially as you inch your way toward the conference tournament,” UTSA coach Jason Marshall said. “But the margins in our league are so slim. From top to bottom, pretty much anybody can beat anybody on a given day.

“Just proud of our resiliency to, one, give up the lead but, two, just hang tough and continue to get outs. Derek Craft just kind of hung in there, threw some zeroes up and gave us a chance to get to that moment.

“And then just proud of Dylan Rock, a freshman, for stepping in there and getting the big hit.”

UTSA’s Ben Brookover executes a head-first slide into third base with a second-inning triple. (Photo by Jerry Briggs)

With two out in the bottom of the 10th and nobody on, Brookover stepped to the plate for the Roadrunners.

Marshall, in the third-base coach’s box, shouted some encouragement at the senior from Reagan: “Get us a double, Ben.”

Brookover promptly obliged by powering a 2-1 fast ball from Tyler Myrick to the base of the fence in center field.

As he pulled into second standing up, UTSA was in business.

With the game on the line and Rock at the plate, a wild pitch from Myrick skipped to the back-stop, allowing Brookover to take third.

At that point, Rock slapped a 2-2 fastball into left field with some top-spin, bringing Brookover home for the winner.

“Coming into today, we knew it was kind of a must win,” said Brookover, who had two doubles and a triple. “We knew that if we won, we’d be in or around fourth place, and if we lost we’d be in (or) around eighth place, so a lot of guys had the mentality that this was a must win.

“It got a little sketchy at the end, but we definitely took care of business.”

FIU starter Nick MacDonald pitched well, striking out six in 5 and 1/3 innings. But he tired at the end, giving up three runs in the sixth and leaving the game with UTSA leading 4-1. (Photo by Jerry Briggs)

UTSA-FIU series at a glance

With a revised schedule, the Roadrunners and Panthers played two nine-inning games on Friday, with UTSA winning the opener 12-4 and then dropping the nightcap, 2-1.

Brookover homered in the first game and drove in four. For the series, he produced four hits, scored five runs and had five RBIs.

Craft, a pro prospect, pitched in all three games.

In Game 2, he took the loss after giving up a game-winning homer to Logan Allen in the eighth. But by Sunday, he earned redemption and a victory that improved his record to 3-3.

The 6-foot-8 right-hander, with a fastball clocked at 96 mph on the radar gun, worked a combined five innings in the three games and allowed one run on five hits. He struck out seven and walked two.

Records

UTSA 21-17, 9-8
FIU 18-21, 8-10

Coming up

UTSA hosts intra-city Division I foe Incarnate Word in a non-conference game on Tuesday night. The Roadrunners return to C-USA competition on Friday with the first of three games at Middle Tennessee.

UTSA’s Derek Craft fires a pitch in the eighth inning against the FIU Golden Panthers. (Photo by Jerry Briggs)

FIU beats UTSA 2-1 to earn doubleheader split


UTSA players applaud teammate Ben Brookover as he rounds the bases following a three-run homer in the opener of a doubleheader Friday against FIU.

FIU freshman Logan Allen got a second chance to beat the UTSA Roadrunners on Friday night, and he didn’t waste it.

Coming off the bench as a pinch-hitter, Allen belted a solo homer in the eighth inning to boost the Golden Panthers to a 2-1 victory and a split of a Conference USA baseball doubleheader at Roadrunner Field.

UTSA won the first game, 12-4, saddling Allen with the loss as the starting pitcher.

Game 1 recap

Senior Ben Brookover and junior Ryan Stacy smashed three-run homers, lifting UTSA to its 20th victory of the season.

Brookover delivered in the fifth inning as UTSA rallied from a two-run deficit and into a 4-3 lead.

Batting from the left side, Stacy sliced a twisting shot over the left-field wall to highlight a six-run eighth, turning the game into a run-away.

“Just glad we were able to extend the lead in the first game,” UTSA coach Jason Marshall said. “To get a little bit of a cushion there, late in the game, and to win the first game in a series is always key and important, especially to defend your home turf on a Friday.”

Junior Kyrell Miller (3-1) was the winning pitcher in 3 and 2/3 innings of relief. He yielded one run on three hits.

Miller struck out seven and walked one.

“Knowing how (starter Steven) Dressler has thrown all year and to see him come out of the game early, and for us to just hold serve … Kyrell Miller threw really well,” Marshall said. “(He) struck a couple of guys out to end an inning and then struck three guys out the following inning.”

Allen (4-5) started for the Panthers and was pitching well until he ran into trouble in the fifth.

He grooved a pitch to Brookover, who jerked it on a line over the left field wall and into the net for a lead that UTSA would not relinquish.


FIU’s Lorenzo Hampton delivers an RBI triple to right field Friday in the opener of a doubleheader at UTSA.

FIU jumped out to a 3-1 lead in its first four at bats.

The Panthers opened the scoring in the first inning with an RBI triple by Lorenzo Hampton.

They added another run in the second on a solo homer by Adan Fernandez.

Game 2 recap

In evaluating what went wrong in the second game of the double-header, Marshall started his analysis with FIU starting pitcher Andres Nunez (see video above).

The 6-foot-4, 240-pound, right-hander pitched seven innings, limiting UTSA to one run on five hits. He struck out nine.

“You know, I got nightmares of Nunez,” Marshall said. “In 2015, he pitched an absolute fantastic game against us in the conference tournament.

“He’s had some hardships and some injuries, and now he’s back, and once again beats the Roadrunners.”

Allen also did his part.

After UTSA scratched out a run against Nunez to tie the game in the seventh, FIU coaches elected to pinch hit Allen for Juan Teixeira to lead off the eighth.

He delivered with a solo homer over the left field wall against UTSA reliever Derek Craft.

“He got into one, and on a night like tonight when the wind’s blowing out to left, it doesn’t take a lot,” Marshall said.

It was Allen’s first homer of the season in 82 at bats.


UTSA freshman Jonathan Tapia turns on the jets to beat a throw to first base after an FIU infield bobble in the seventh. The error allowed Chris Estrada to score from third, tying the game, 1-1.

Records

FIU 18-20, 8-9
UTSA 20-17, 8-8

Series schedule

Sunday: Single game, noon

Note: The schedule originally called for single games Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Officials on Thursday agreed to play two games Friday, take Saturday off because of forecasts for inclement weather, and then play the finale on Sunday.

UTSA’s season ends with 76-69 playoff loss to Sam Houston State

UTSA guard Giovanni De Nicolao drives against Sam Houston State at the UTSA Convocation Center on Thursday, March 22, 2018 in the quarterfinals of the CollegeInsider.com tournament.

UTSA sophomore guard Giovanni De Nicolao drives against Sam Houston State in the CIT quarterfinals. Photo by Joe Alexander.

An emotional UTSA coach Steve Henson addressed reporters Thursday night, explaining the difficulty of delivering a proper message to his players following their last game of the season.

“That’s always a tough conversation,” Henson said. “You know, you’re never totally prepared for it. Going into tonight’s game, (you’re) expecting to win and hoping to win and play next week, so, it was tough. A very tough locker room.”

Trailing by 12 early in the second half, Sam Houston State rallied to eliminate UTSA on its home court with a 76-69 victory in the quarterfinals of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.

An announced crowd of 1,352 watched as the visitors from the Southland Conference hit the home team with a late 17-2 run over a five-minute span to take charge.

With the surge, Sam Houston turned a 57-50 deficit into a 67-59 lead with five minutes remaining.

The Roadrunners (20-15) of Conference USA never got closer than five the rest of the way.

Ultimately, the Bearkats (21-14) won the game at the free-throw line. They hit 27 of 34 to only 7 of 13 for the Roadrunners.

UTSA players took the loss hard.

“I want to keep this feeling, right here, for all summer, how I hurt right now, to work out all summer, to get better and to win the conference (next year),” UTSA guard Giovanni De Nicolao said.


Sam Houston State’s Josh Delaney (15) drives hard to the bucket and dishes to teammate Freddy Bitondo (0) for a layup mid-way through the second half.

Statistical leaders

Sam Houston State: John Dewey III, 18 points, including 13 in the second half. He hit 8 of 10 free throws. Cameron Delaney, 13 points, 6 rebounds. Chris Galbreath, 11 points, 12 rebounds. Josh Delaney, 11 points, 5 assists.

UTSA: Keaton Wallace, 18 points on 6 of 11 shooting, 3 of 7 from three-point distance. Giovanni De Nicolao, 17 points on 7 of 13, including 3 of 5 from three. Nick Allen, 11 points, 4 of 12. Byron Frohnen, 8 points, 4 rebounds. Deon Lyle, 5 points on 2 of 9, 1 of 7 from three.


UTSA forward Byron Frohnen runs the floor and gets the ball for an easy shot late in the first half against Sam Houston State.

First-half highlights

The UTSA Roadrunners hit eight three-pointers in the first half, breaking out to a 37-28 intermission lead.

Wallace led the long-distance barrage, nailing three shots from beyond the arc.

De Nicolao and Allen added two more apiece as the Roadrunners nailed 8 of 16 overall.

Defensively, UTSA played well, holding Sam Houston to 10 of 30 from the field and 4 of 6 free throws.


UTSA guard Giovanni De Nicolao hits a three from the corner early in the first half against Sam Houston State.

Game notes

UTSA players wanted a CIT championship, but they did bring home a 20-win season — only the seventh in the program’s 37 years.

The Roadrunners played its sixth straight game without leading scorer Jhivvan Jackson, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on Feb. 24 against Louisiana Tech. UTSA went 3-3 in his absence, including 1-1 in the C-USA tournament and 1-1 in the CIT.

Cameron Delaney, a junior guard from Harker Heights, sparked Sam Houston’s decisive 17-2 run with three-pointer, a steal and another basket.

The Bearkats played without guard Marcus Harris, who injured his foot Monday night in a 69-62 home victory over Eastern Michigan. Harris played in high school in San Antonio for the MacArthur Brahmas. He is averaging 9.7 points per game.

CIT quarterfinals

Saturday’s game
Central Michigan at Liberty

Thursday’s results
Sam Houston State beat UTSA, 76-69

Wednesday’s results
Illinois-Chicago beat Austin Peay, 83-81
Northern Colorado beat San Diego, 86-75

UTSA’s 20-win seasons
Year, record, head coach

1983-84: 20-8 (Don Eddy)
1987-88: 22-9 (Ken Burmeister)
1989-90: 22-7 (Ken Burmeister)
1990-91: 21-8 (Stu Starner)
1991-92: 21-8 (Stu Starner)
2010-11: 20-14 (Brooks Thompson)
2017-18: 20-15 (Steve Henson)

UTSA guard Keaton Wallace plays defense against Sam Houston State's Dajuan Jones at the UTSA Convocation Center on Thursday, March 22, 2018 in the quarterfinals of the CollegeInsider.com tournament.

UTSA freshman guard Keaton Wallace plays defense against Sam Houston State’s Dajuan Jones. Wallace finished with a team-high 18 points. Photo by Joe Alexander.

UTSA vs. Sam Houston State photo gallery

Nick Allen. UTSA lost to Sam Houston State on Thursday, March 22, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament quarterfinals.UTSA lost to Sam Houston State on Thursday, March 22, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament quarterfinals. UTSA guard forward Nick Allen, who scored 11 points, shoots over the Sam Houston State defense. Photo by Joe Alexander.

Henson wins NABC District 11 Coach of the Year honors

Steve Henson. UTSA beat Lamar 76-69 on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at the UTSA Convocation Center in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Steve Henson has been honored as both the NABC District 11 and C-USA coach of the year.

Steve Henson has won his second major coaching honor of the season.

He was named on Wednesday as the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) District 11 coach of the year.

In his second year at UTSA, Henson previously had been cited as the Coach of the Year in Conference USA.

Henson won the award on the eve of a CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament quarterfinal between UTSA (20-14) and Sam Houston State (20-14).

UTSA hosts Sam Houston Thursday night at 7.

The Roadrunners finished 5-27 in 2015-16, the year before Henson arrived.

They improved to win 14 games last year and 20 this year on the heels of back-to-back strong recruiting classes.

Two years ago, Henson brought in a freshman class that included Giovanni De Nicolao, Byron Frohnen and George Willborn III.

Last year, his staff added freshmen Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace and transfer Deon Lyle.

Jackson, the Conference USA Freshman of the Year and a second-team, all C-USA selection, averaged 18.4 points per game.

UTSA suffered a blow to its postseason chances when it lost Jackson to a knee injury against Louisiana Tech.

But even without Jackson, the Roadrunners split the next two games on the road to finish the regular season 18-13 overall and 11-7, good for fifth place in the C-USA.

UTSA defeated UTEP to reach the quarterfinals in the C-USA tournament before losing to Marshall, the eventual champion.

In the CIT, UTSA hosted Lamar last Wednesday, recovered from a slow start and won 76-69.

Sam Houston at a glance

Sam Houston State finished the regular season 19-13 overall and fourth in the SLC standings with a 12-6 record.

Moving into the SLC tournament at Katy, the Bearkats routed New Orleans 85-63 before losing in the second round to Southeastern Louisiana, 89-79.

Sam Houston won at home in its first game in the CIT, beating Eastern Michigan 69-62 on Monday, to qualify for the quarterfinal game against UTSA.

The Bearkats have won 20 games or more in four of the past five seasons under coach Jason Hooten. Hooten is in his eighth year at the school.

Leaders

Sam Houston — Chris Galbreath, Jr. leads Sam Houston, averaging 14.6 points and 7.9 rebounds. John Dewey III averages 10 points and 4.5 assists. Transfer Marcus Harris, who played in high school at MacArthur, is averaging 9.4 points in his first season with the Bearkats.

UTSA — Junior transfer Deon Lyle has stepped up to average 17 points in the five games since Jackson has been out. He has led UTSA in scoring four times during the stretch.

For the season, Lyle is averaging 11.5, Wallace 11.2, Nick Allen 8.8 and De Nicolao 8.4. Willborn, a 4.5 ppg scorer last year, has boosted his average to 7.8 as a sophomore. Byron Frohnen averages 7.6 points and 7.3 rebounds.

UTSA beats Lamar 76-69 in CIT playoff opener


Forward Nick Allen scores on a driving layup with 2:02 remaining to give UTSA an eight-point lead.

UTSA rallied in a home playoff game for its 20th victory of the season Wednesday night, claiming a 76-69 decision over Lamar in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.

Playing in front of an announced 1,012 at the Convocation Center, the Roadrunners (20-14) fell behind by eight in the first half before they found a rhythm in their game.

By the second half, they started to roll, playing tough defense, moving the ball on offense and gradually wearing down the Cardinals (19-14) of the Southland Conference.

With the victory, UTSA claimed its first 20-win season in seven years. The team also earned another CIT game at home.

Officials announced that the Roadrunners from Conference USA would play in the tournament’s quarterfinals at the Convocation Center on March 22. The opponent will be announced in coming days.

“It feels really good, really good,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “I’m happy for our guys. They earned the right to play in this event, and they came out and fought really hard.

“You know, it wasn’t easy in the first half. Just hangin’ and hangin,’ trying to stay in there, and they did.

“They’re just a good team. Lamar is tough and physical. It wasn’t easy but we hung in there and popped it open a little bit in the second half.”


UTSA forward Deon Lyle hits a three late in the first half against Lamar.

Stat leaders

UTSA — Deon Lyle, 16 points, including four three-pointers, eight rebounds. Giovanni De Nicolao, 14 points, including 10 in the second half, six assists.

Nick Allen, 13 points, 11 in the second half. Byron Frohnen, 11 points, 5 of 6 shooting.

Lamar — Nick Garth, 16 points, four three-pointers. Josh Nzeakor, 13 points, nine rebounds. Joey Frenchwood, 13 points. Colton Weisbrod, 12 points, 11 rebounds.

First-half struggles

Visiting Lamar held UTSA to 38 percent shooting in seizing a 33-31 lead at intermission.

Meanwhile, Lyle scored 14 points to keep the Roadrunners in contention, hitting four three-pointers in the half.

Lamar featured a more balanced attack with Garth, Nzeakor and Weisbrod scoring six points apiece.

Playing man-to-man defense primarily, Lamar limited UTSA to only 17 points in the first 15 minutes.

A three-pointer by Cardinals guard Frenchwood lifted the visitors to a 25-17 lead with 5:20 remaining.

A turning point

From there, Lyle sparked a UTSA rally.

He scored 11 points, including three shots from beyond the arc, lifting UTSA back into contention.

“It’s not the first time he’s done that on the year,” Henson said. “You know, there’s times we’re going along and don’t have much going on the offensive end and he just jumps up and knocks down a couple of threes.

“We needed those, for sure.”


UTSA’s defense picks up intensity early in the second half as forward Nick Allen switches off his man to contest a jumper.

Shooting stars

UTSA emerged in the second half shooting the ball well, connecting on five of its first 11 attempts.

The Roadrunners took a 45-44 lead on De Nicolao’s three from the top of the key with 13:03 remaining.

Moments later, Garth tied the game at the free throw line.

But UTSA retaliated with Frohnen and De Nicolao scoring inside, and then Keaton Wallace connected on a long three for a 7-0 run over 65 seconds.

As a result, the crowd was in a roar as the Roadrunners led 53-46 with 11 minutes to play.

Lamar answered with a 12-7 run of its own that included two threes by Garth, and with 4:23 remaining, the Cardinals were within two at 60-58.

But De Nicolao banked in a three and Allen scored in the paint to push the Roadrunners ahead by seven.

Lamar got no closer than five the rest of the way.


UTSA’s Giovanni De Nicolao sets up the offense in the first half, passing to the wing for George Willborn III, who drives hard and dishes to Byron Frohnen for the layup.

Notes

UTSA, in its 37th year of basketball, registered only its second win in a postseason setting outside of conference tournament play.

The first such victory came in 2010-11, when the Roadrunners defeated Alabama State in the NCAA tournament’s round of 68.

UTSA won its 12th home game of the season and its 23rd in two years under Henson.

The dream scenario

De Nicolao, a sophomore point guard from Italy, said he thinks the Convocation Center needs to be re-decorated.

With a championship banner.

“We want to win this tournament right now, because, honestly, we want to have a (banner) somewhere — right there,” said De Nicolao, pointing to the arena rafters. “I’ve always said that.

“This year is an opportunity, and next year, I think, we’re going to have a bigger one.”

First NCAA dance: UTSA made history in its seventh season

Texas Lutheran coach Mike Wacker (left) and UIW’s Ken Burmeister. (Soobum Im / The University of the Incarnate Word)

Quietly, and with very little fanfare, the 30th anniversary of an iconic moment in San Antonio’s college basketball history has arrived.

Not much has been written or said about it, outside of a few whispers among friends who experienced it first-hand.

But it’s hard to forget the 1987-88 season and the memories of UTSA’s first wild ride in March to an NCAA tournament.

Ken Burmeister. The Incarnate Word men's basketball team opened the season with an 87-71 victory over Southwestern on Friday night. (Joe Alexander / theJBreplay.com)

Incarnate Word’s Ken Burmeister coached UTSA to the 1988 NCAA tournament. (Joe Alexander / theJBreplay.com)

If you show the UTSA team picture from that year to Ken Burmeister and Mike Wacker, for instance, the nostalgia starts to flow freely.

Burmeister, recently fired after 12 seasons at Incarnate Word, served as UTSA’s head coach at the time.

Wacker, now leading the program at Texas Lutheran, worked under Burmeister that year on a staff that included Gary Marriott, Glynn Cyprien and David Oliver.

Burmeister and Wacker talked at length about the good times last December, before UIW hosted and defeated Wacker and Division III TLU, 91-63.

“It was just a dream come true for me, being part of coach Burmeister’s (UTSA) staff, and working with (assistant) coach (Gary) Marriott,” Wacker said. “I mean, those players were just so much fun to be around.

“They worked so hard, and for them to achieve that, under coach B’s leadership, I was just happy to be along for the ride.”

Tournament time

In only the seventh season in program history, UTSA finished third in the Trans America Athletic Conference regular season standings, behind both Georgia Southern and Arkansas-Little Rock, who tied for first.

But when the Roadrunners arrived at Daytona Beach, Florida, for the TAAC tournament, something clicked.

High-scoring forward Frank Hampton got hot, and UTSA won three games in three days at the Ocean Center, knocking off No. 2-seed Little Rock in the semifinals and No. 1 Georgia Southern in the finals.

The sweetest moment may have arrived on the day UTSA played Little Rock.

The Trojans, under Mike Newell, had been a nemesis of the Roadrunners for two seasons, winning all five games they had played.

That’s before Hampton, a UTSA senior from Chicago, erupted for 42 points in a 101-75 victory to eliminate Little Rock.

Another moment in time came a few days later, when No. 14 seed UTSA traveled to Cincinnati to play in the NCAA first round against third-seeded Illinois.

Battling against future NBA first-round draft picks Kendall Gill and Nick Anderson, the Roadrunners played the Big Ten school on mostly even terms before falling 81-72.

UTSA finished 22-9.

Even with those highlights, Burmeister said his most vivid memories of the season centered on the coaching staff’s chemistry and on a senior class that never gave up on itself.

“The staff got along really well together, and we had a really good, experienced team,” the coach said. “We had some older guys. We had four seniors that, when we got to the (TAAC) tournament, they all stepped up for us.

“Every one of them (including Clarence McGee, Lennell Moore and Todd Barnes) contributed to a victory.”

Players bought into a disciplined approach from the start.

Burmeister inherited the approach from his days as an assistant under Lute Olsen at both Iowa and Arizona.

Leaving Arizona, he arrived at UTSA in 1986 stressing attention to detail in practices and in the classroom.

Stressing discipline

Wacker, a former all-conference power forward at Texas, lived in the Chase Hill student apartments so that he could keep close tabs on the players.

“When I was there, that was my job, to get ‘em up (in the morning),” Wacker said. “You know, they couldn’t be in their apartments after 8 o’clock.

“I know (coach Burmeister) has got similar stuff in place now (at UIW), and that means he cares about these guys after basketball stops.”

Flanked by his trusted assistants, Burmeister posted a 72-44 record in four years at UTSA. His .621 winning percentage remains as the highest in the school’s 37-year history.

Almost inexplicably, he was fired following the 1989-1990 season after finishing 22-7.

The end of his tenure has been traced to a falling out with Bobby Thompson, the school’s athletic director at the time.

“If our staff had stayed intact, we’d have gotten into the top 20,” said Burmeister, who finished 311-280 in 21 seasons as a head coach. “We’d have gotten to the (round of) 16 (in the NCAA tournament).

“Unfortunately, there were administrators over there that didn’t want success, and they made a change.”

Hurt feelings aside, nothing will take away from the pride in what the coaches and players accomplished three decades ago.

“We were literally doing it on a shoe-string (budget), as you well know,” said Wacker, who coached 26 years at Judson High School, before taking over at TLU in 2016. “I just think we all had the right attitude for it. Coach B was driven, driven to push us to be the best we could be.

“Really, that’s what he’s always done. It’s what he’s doing here (at UIW).”

Thirty years ago, in the 1987-88 season, the UTSA Roadrunners reached the NCAA men’s basketball tournament for the first time. (Courtesy, UTSA)

Burmeister (bottom row, fourth from left, kneeling) and Mike Wacker (bottom row, far left) pose with the team that made history as UTSA’s first NCAA tournament squad.

1987-88 UTSA basketball
Record: 22-9
Trans America Athletic Conference: 13-5
Individual statistics
Frank Hampton, 18.0 ppg, 7.4 rpg
Clarence McGee, 14.2, 8.7
Eric Cooper, 13.8, 2.8
Lennell Moore, 8.9, 4.8
Todd Barnes, 7.5, 1.9
Bruce Wheatley, 6.0, 5.8
Dion Pettus, 3.8, 1.4
Grant Martin 3.5, 2.7
Scott Smith, 3.3, 1.1
Mike Bragg, 3.2, 2.0
Gary Durbon 2.3, 0.7
Tim Knowles, 1.6, 1.6

UTSA to host Lamar in first-round CIT game


Forward Byron Frohnen hits a jump hook in a Feb. 24 home game victory over Louisiana Tech.

UTSA announced Monday that it would host the Lamar Cardinals Wednesday night at 7 in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, otherwise known as the CIT.

Lamar (19-13) of the Southland Conference is led by veteran coach Tic Price.

Second-year coach Steve Henson has guided UTSA (19-14) of Conference USA to its first national postseason game since 2011 when it last played in the NCAA tournament.

On Sunday, the game was tentatively set for Wednesday night at Lamar, in Beaumont.

But officials announced Monday afternoon that it would be played at the UTSA Convocation Center, a development that pleased Henson.

Henson said that it’s “terrific” to be able to play a postseason game at home.

“Just the opportunity to play, period, is very, very exciting,” the coach said. “When you look at the number of teams that are done right now, less than 40 percent of the teams in the country are still practicing today and getting ready to play a ball game.

“(I’m) proud of our guys for earning the opportunity. Then (we feel) fortunate to get a home game here. Our guys are very excited. Looking forward to playing.”


Lamar forward Josh Nzeakor makes a quick move for a dunk against Incarnate Word on Jan. 17.

On Jan. 25, UTSA was blown out by 24 points at Middle Tennessee. It was the team’s fourth loss in five games, and it left the Roadrunners at 10-11 on the season.

In that regard, it’s surprising that the Roadrunners are practicing in the second week of March.

“It feels good to still be on the court and still be out here playing,” said junior forward Deon Lyle, who was named the C-USA’s sixth man of the year.

Forward Byron Frohnen said the team was initially told on Sunday that it would be traveling.

“But they came out this morning and said it’s going to be a home game,”
he said. “So it’s that much better for us. We did a lot of traveling in the last few weeks.

“We’re definitely excited to stay home with our fans.”

Marshall advances with 95-81 victory over UTSA

Playing from behind all night, the UTSA Roadrunners rallied furiously to pull within five points of the Marshall Thundering Herd in the closing minutes of the second half.

From there, the Roadrunners twice had chances to hit shots and make it a one-possession game.

But fourth-seeded Marshall held No. 5 UTSA scoreless on both tries, turning the stops into a 95-81 victory in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA men’s basketball tournament.

The tournament is being played in Frisco, in the Ford Center at the Star.

With the victory, Marshall (22-10) moves on to play ninth-seeded Southern Miss in a semifinal game set for 12:30 p.m. Friday.

Southern Miss (16-17) made the semis by shocking the top-seeded Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, 71-68, in overtime.

For UTSA (19-14), its dream of a berth in the NCAA tournament has been dashed.

But an opportunity looms to play in another postseason event, perhaps the National Invitation Tournament, the College Basketball Invitational or the CollegeInsider.com tournament.

Regardless, none of that was consolation to the Roadrunners, who put together their best season in six years, won the tournament opener Wednesday night against UTEP but then failed to sustain the momentum.

“Our guys are pretty disappointed in there, and I think that’s a good sign,” UTSA coach Steve Henson told the team’s radio broadcast. “They really believed we could come here and win a bunch of games and give ourselves a chance.

“I wouldn’t want it any other way. You know, we wouldn’t want guys to be in there content or coming over to this tournament not thinking we’re going to win it.

“So, they’re a little disappointed right now. Their heads are down.”

Henson told KTKR radio that “we’re kind of planning on playing in (another) tournament” early next week.

“So, we’ll have to bounce back real quickly,” he said. “You got to put this one behind you. The dream of the Big Dance (the NCAA tournament) is behind us now. We’ll go play some more good basketball.”

Guard C.J. Burks led Marshall with 29 points, hitting 9 of 16 from the field. Forward Ajdin Penava added 22 points.

On the glass, Penava dominated with 12 boards and Burks pulled down nine. Point guard Jon Elmore ran the show with 15 points and 11 assists.

“They’re a good team,” Henson said. “They just spread the floor so well. They made good plays.”

Getting off to a fast start, the Thundering Herd raced to an 18-point lead in the first half.

UTSA cut it to 11 at the intermission. But Marshall stepped on the gas again, building a 15-point margin seven minutes into the second half.

At that juncture, the Roadrunners started to play their best ball of the night. They rallied to within 74-69 when Giovanni De Nicolao hit a jumper.

But that was as close as it would get.

UTSA made a couple of stops, only to come up empty offensively when Deon Lyle missed a three, followed by De Nicolao having his runner blocked by Jannson Williams.

Williams followed his block with a free throw, and then a three-point shot, boosting Marshall into a nine-point lead. UTSA never got closer than six the rest of the way.

Playing without injured Jhivvan Jackson, the Roadrunners probably didn’t have enough weapons to win the tournament.

But forward Byron Frohnen had his second double-double in two nights with 16 points and 13 rebounds.

Forward Nick Allen and guard George Willborn III also scored 16, with freshman Keaton Wallace coming off the bench for 13.

Lyle was held to 2-of-15 shooting and five points.