Coach Jones Has Good News And Basketball Gets Ready To Tipoff At Home

November 17, 2009 · By · Filed Under Basketball, Football, Men's 

The Jags have gone 3-1 so far in basketball with wins over West Florida 79-63, Houston Baptist 76-64 and Sacramento State 70-58. Their only loss was to Rice by two points, 71-69.

The Jags will open their home season on Thursday when they host Spring Hill college at 7:05pm at the Mitchell Center. USA will be honoring the football team for their accomplishments in their inaugural season at halftime of the men’s game.

Mentioned today on the Coach Joey Jones Radio Show, the NCAA has granted USA players who have not already used their redshirt year, the ability to count this year towards that. Since USA was not competing against “varsity” teams, the NCAA has allowed them to do this.

However this will apply differently from player to player. For instance, someone like Brandon Ross who has only used one year of eligibilty (at Memphis) will get to count this year as his redshirt year which means he has three more years to play at USA. But a player like Courtney Smith who has used his redshirt and played two years at UAB will only have one more year of eligibility left for next year. Charlie Higgenbotham and Justin Dunn both have the same eligibility status as Smith. All but one of the offensive linemen, who are JuCo transfers, have only used two years of eligibility and will have two more years to play for USA.

During Monday’s media day Coach Jones reflected on the Jags inaugural season. One of the first questions he was asked was about how he felt after realizing that the team had played its final game of the season. He answered by saying, “This weekend I was emotionally and physically drained from a year and a half of putting this thing together, but at the same time I’m just really excited for where our program is at this point. So much hard work has gone into putting this together, and I’m just really pleased with where we are in the process of moving into Division I.”

Another question was about where the team will go from here. “The biggest thing we’ve got to meet with the team about today is that we’ve got to continually raise the bar starting today and all the way through next season, and even beyond that,” Coach Jones answered. “We’ve got to realize where we want to be as a football program, and we’ve got to continually raise the bar every day, because we’re by no means a good Division I program right now. We’re going to be there, but we know that we’ve got a lot of work to do to get to that point.”

He was then asked about what areas the team needed to improve upon. “It’s obviously in the weight room and the strength and conditioning area,” he said. “We’ve got to become a bigger and faster team, and then the second thing is recruiting. We’re hitting the recruiting trail this week, and have been recruiting, but we can focus all of our energies toward recruiting and signing what we deem are Division I players. We’ve got to make decisions along the way that we’re going to sign better players than we’ve got, or we’re not going to sign them. We don’t need numbers anymore. We need higher quality players as we go, so we’ve got to focus on that and not get caught up in trying to sign numbers.”

Coach Jones was asked what he would remember from this first season. He answered, “The number one thing I’m most pleased about is how the team came together. I’m not just talking about our players and staff, I’m talking about our trainers, equipment people, graduate assistants, and strength and conditioning guys. Everybody that was involved with the program seemed like they were all on the same page, and that was the most pleasing thing – to bring that many people together and get them all going in the same direction. We really had a bunch of great people.”

One of the last questions asked was what it means to the program to win all seven games this season. “Number one it makes a statement that South Alabama is here to build a Division I football program,”he said. “The 7-0 thing is a confidence builder. Success breeds success and losing breeds losing, so I would much rather be 7-0, because I think that carries over. It’s not that if we had lost a bunch of games that we wouldn’t have had a chance to have a great program, but any time you win kids get used to it and it’s harder for them to lose down the road.”

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