There are only two ways to end one's season with a win in college basketball.
You either win the national championship, or you aren't good enough to qualify for your conference tournament but manage to win a meaningless regular-season finale.
Lonn Reisman's 2013-14 Tarleton State Texans were certainly good enough to reach the Lone Star Conference Championship - they won it, after all - and good enough to contend for a national championship.
But they still didn't end their season with a win, meaning for a program that has played in all but one round of the NCAA Division II Championship over the last 10 years, there is still work to be done.
"We still have every aspiration of winning a national championship, and that's still the goal going forward for 2014-15," said 26th year head coach Lonn Reisman, who is 558-229 at Tarleton. "That's the goal every year, and we believe we have the type of program that can compete for it every year."
Tarleton shared the LSC regular season title and won its second straight LSC Championship tournament. The Texans went 28-3 for a win percentage of .903, it's best in more than 50 seasons as a senior college.
"We accomplished a great deal and are very proud of what we did this year," said Reisman. "As a program, as coaches, are we satisfied? No, we certainly are not. But we do have a lot to be proud of."
Such as a senior-college era record 18-game win streak to begin the season and a school record 2,660 points, or 85.8 per game.
"It's the highest scoring team we've ever had here at Tarleton, and I think that shows how we adjusted to the rule changes and to the modern style of college basketball," Reisman said. "You have to continue to learn in this game, or pretty soon you'll be left in the stone age."
The Texans not only led the LSC in scoring, but also in scoring defense at 65.5 points per game.
"We knew we wanted to play a faster game, get to the free throw line more, and we knew if we could do those things that we would score more points, "Reisman said. "But what I'm most proud of is that we accomplished those things without sacrificing our defense.That's what we've built this program on, and even playing a more open, uptempo style, we still led the the league in scoring defense."
The Texans won plenty of individual awards, particularly Chuck Guy. The senior from Fort Worth is the Lone Star Conference Player of the Year, a National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District selection, a Daktroniks and NABC All-South Central Region pick and was recently selected to participate in the NABC Reese's Division II College All-Star Game for the top 20 players not competing in the Elite Eight.
Guy and the all-stars play at 6 p.m. (CST) next Friday, March 28, at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind. The national championship game will be played there at noon (CST) on Saturday, March 29.
"Chuck is very deserving of the honors and awards he has received and will continue to receive," said Reisman. "I've said all along he is a special breed. He can score with the best players in the country and he can distribute the ball with the best point guards in the country. It's rare you find a player who can do both those things as well as Chuck can."
Guy finished first in the LSC in assists (6.1) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.2-to-1), second in free throw shooting (85.1 percent), third in steals (1.7) and sixth in scoring (15.6).
Nobody finished the season stronger than De'Andre Upchurch, who scored more than 20 points in each of his final five games. The senior guard from Flint, Mich. led the LSC in scoring at 17.6 points per game.
"I'm so proud of the way De'Andre finished his career here," Reisman said of the first-team all-conference and all-region selection. "De'Andre had a great two years, and like Chuck he will be missed. I'm especially proud of how much De'Andre has grown as a person during his time here."
The other seniors are Coleman Furst, a 99-game winner at Tarleton. A four-year lettermen, Furst will graduate in May and plans to begin a career in coaching.
"Coleman is exactly what you want in a student-athlete. He is a model student, a hard worker and a strong Christian young man," Reisman said. "I am looking forward to following his career as he gets into coaching because I believe he will prove to be a great leader for other young men."
The other senior was 2012-13 LSC Defensive Player of the Year Jon Cathey-Macklin.
"Jon absolutely deserved that award, and I thought there for a couple weeks at the end of this regular season he was back to doing the things that earned him that honor as a junior," Reisman said.
Tarleton landed junior forward Davene Carter on the LSC's All-Defensive first team, and Tashawn Mabry came off the bench to earn honorable-mention All-LSC honors.
"We'll have both those guys and several other good pieces coming back," Reisman said. "We have the tools in place to have another very good year next season. We just have to go to continue to work on recruiting and bringing in guys who fit our needs and who we believe will fit the chemistry of our team."
Reisman wouldn't speak to specific personnel needs, but did say one major area would be addressed.
"I think we have to become a better rebounding team," said Reisman, who coached NBA all-time rebounding leader Dennis Rodman back when Reisman was an assistant at Southeastern Oklahoma State in the 1980s. "I coached one of the greatest rebounders in the history of this game, so I take rebounding very personally. It's something I want our team to take pride in.
"Rebounding will be one of the things we look at in recruiting, and it will be one of the big focuses of our off-season."
As will be continuing to up the tempo, both offensively and through even more aggressive defensive play.
"We're going to press more, and I'd like to see us be more aggressive in passing lane," Reisman said. "We're going to have to get more multiple, and scoring through opportunities created by our defense is one way we will do that."
While those are areas Reisman feels needs addressing, there are also those he feels the team got right, specifically a pair of coaching hires.
"Hiring Marlin Cloudy was a big blessing. He played here for me, the players know and respect that, and he's a very good coach and leader," Reisman says. "The same goes for having Chris Harrell as a graduate assistant. He's the type of young man I want these players to be around and be influenced by. He came here to play basketball, and soon he will leave with a master's degree from Tarleton."
Midwestern State ended Tarleton's season for the third time in five years. Because of the regionalization theory that governs Division II basketball, Tarleton and MSU have played four times in each of those seasons. This season, each team won twice against the other, and after 165 minutes -there was one five-minute overtime - of head-to-head play, the score was Tarleton 297, Midwestern 297.
"It's a great rivalry between two great programs, no doubt about it," Reisman said. "It will continue to be a great rivalry."
One likely to continue to affect LSC crowns and regional brackets for as long as both are in Division II.
"We had a great season, and we're still in the midst of a great era of Tarleton basketball," Reisman said. "We've accomplished many great things with this program, but there is still an ultimate prize, an ultimate goal that we're all aspiring for. That's the national championship, and we're going to continue to work to win that title of national champion, that honor, that prestige for our university and our community."