Fans start to take notice of Division I hoops in San Marcos

Keaton Wallace had 19 points for UTSA. Texas State beat UTSA 69-68 on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Texas State forward Chandler Davis (left) defends against UTSA’s Keaton Wallace. The Bobcats beat the Roadrunners 69-68 on Dec. 1 in San Antonio. – Photo by Joe Alexander.

Texas State Bobcats coach Danny Kaspar likely has known for awhile now that his team could emerge in March as one of the most special in school history.

He hasn’t said so in as many words.

At least, not until Saturday, when he started comparing his squad favorably to some of the best in school history.

Moments after a stirring 77-64 victory over Arkansas State in front of 4,163 fans at Strahan Arena, Kaspar credited the fans for their support and talked about how helpful they could be down the stretch.

“I know the crowd helped us, but it also wowed (the players) when they walked out there,” he said, in a video posted on the program’s website. “I mean, other than the Air Force game, that’s the first good crowd we’ve had.

“And, of course, a lot of our students are in town and that makes a difference.”

Texas State drew 4,058 on Nov. 9 in an opening-night 67-57 victory over Air Force.

With that performance, the Bobcats started to build momentum, which has carried them to a 16-3 record, including 5-1 in the Sun Belt.

Now tied for first in the standings, Texas State will commence preparation for a meeting with Sun Belt co-leader Georgia State Thursday night in Atlanta.

A demanding coach who chooses his words carefully, Kaspar said his team is “worth a look” when it returns home to play at Strahan in coming weeks.

“I just think this team is playing some of the best basketball in the Division I era (of the university),” Kaspar said. “I know that they had some great teams during the NAIA years.

“But in the Division I era, this is about as good as anyone’s been playing, since the Jeff Foster days, the Donte Mathis days.”

Formerly a NAIA and NCAA Division II program, Texas State transitioned into Division I in the 1984-85 season.

Success has been spotty, with the Bobcats reaching the NCAA tournament in 1994 and 1997. They haven’t been back since.

Could this year be the year? Given that the Bobcats are 14-2 since mid-November, the coach issued an appeal to the fans.

“I’m hoping people will say, ‘Maybe it’s worth a look,’ and start coming out,” Kaspar said. “I think they have fun when they’re here.”