(This is the fourth in a series previewing basketball in the Sun Belt Conference)

TEXAS STATE BOBCATS:  Coach: Danny Kaspar (3rd season).

2014-15 Record:  14-17, 7-13 (Lost to Louisiana in SBC quarterfinals)

KEY RETURNEES:  F Kavin Gilder-Tilbury (7.9, 3.5), F Emani Gant (12.7. 6.9), F Cameron Naylor (8.2, 4.9), G Ethan Montalvo (7.7, 1.3)

KEY LOSSES:  G Wes Davis (7.7, 3.2), G D. J. Brown (7.2, 81 assists)

Last year started well for Texas State.

The Bobcats got out to a 9-4 record to start the season, but then lost 12 of their next 16 to limp into the Sun Belt Tournament with a 13-16 record.  They beat UT Arlington in the first round, but their season ended with a 53-43 loss to Louisiana.  Part of the negative turnaround was the loss of senior Wes Davis.  But that wasn't the only thing.

"I was bothered by the lack of leadership internally by players," noted third year coach Danny Kaspar.  "I was hoping for better.  I thought we could finish higher."

This year the Bobcats are picked tied for eighth but again, Kaspar is aiming for something better.  "Picked eighth is okay with me, but I"m optimistic we can be better and have a winning season."  Winning seasons have been almost non existent at Texas State in recent history.  "We have a good nucleus of five or six players," Kaspar said.  We'll have to have some recruits step up and help us."

Headlining that nucleus is forward Emani Gant, a pre season first team All-Conference selection.  Gant averaged 12.7 points in Kaspar's patterned offense last year and Kaspar thinks Gant can be even better if he shows more maturity.  " This is his senior year.  It's time to let go of the imaturities  that have kept him from being the player he can be.  I haven't seen as much of that in practice as I did last year of letting little things bother him."

Wing player Kavin Gilder-Tilbury and forward Cameron Naylor, along with guard Ethan Montalvo are other key players returning for Kaspar.  "Tilbury and Gant will be the keys to our team," Kaspar said.  "We have to be more consistent and more resilient, but our effort and camaraderie are good."

OUTLOOK:  With Kaspar's philosophy of a pattered offense and solid defense, having his own players is critical for success.  In his third season, the veteran coach has that.  Gant is capable of taking over a game on any night.  With another quintet of returnees, the nucleus is there.  There are new players and meshing them into the system will take some time.  Texas State may be a year away, but Kaspar is used to winning games.  That thought of a winning season this year may not be a pipe dream