The University of South Alabama men’s basketball team sufferred their first setback in conference play with their 63-54 loss to Arkansas State Saturday night. The Jags shot a season low 27.4% for the game and never had the lead.
The loss evens the season record to 6-6 and 3-1 in the Sun Belt Conference. Arkansas State improves their overall record to 8-5 overall and 2-2 in the Sun Belt.
The Jags could only muster four three-point field goals for the game despite putting it up 27 times (14.8%) while turning the ball over 17 times. However, the Red Wolves didn’t do much better by shooting 38.2% and tied for the second lowest by a Jaguar opponent this season. But the difference was that they shot 42.9% in the second half as opposed to the Jaguars 30%.
“You don’t have to look too hard to see what the main problem was,” said interim head coach Jeff Price. “We shot 27 percent from the field. Defensively I thought we were okay. Anytime you hold a team to 38 percent you’re doing pretty darn good. I thought we were good on that end we just didn’t do as good of a job in this game of manufacturing points.”
“We weren’t just not making shots outside,” Price continued. “Think about how many inside just rolled around in the rim and could have been three-point plays and they went out of the basket. It just seemed like there was a lid on it all night. It was just one of those nights. Again, I thought defensively we were good enough to win the game. It’s ironic that the two top scoring teams come in to the game and the score ends up 63-54, but we just have to keep plugging away.”
The Jaguar struggles began before the game even started as it was announced that starter Xavier Roberson had been suspended indefinitely for a violation of athletic department and team policies. Then the Jags began the game by missing their first seven shots and didn’t get on the scoreboard until 15:14 left in the first half.
The Red Wolves came into the game leading the conference in steals, turnover margin and turnovers forced per game. They forced the Jags into committing 12 first-half turnovers on six steals and converted them into nine points.
“We made too many turnovers in the first half,” Price said. “Twelve turnovers in the first half cost us. We just have to get better and that’s on me. I have to make us better and get us to understand better.”
Mychal Ammons picked up two early fouls forcing coach Price to keep him on the bench for a large portion of the first half. Then later in the first half, Ammons would pick up his third foul which put him on the bench for the remainder of the first half.
ASU would use a 10-2 run about midway through the second half to build a 50-37 lead but the Jags would get a run of their own to answer. The Jags would begin an 11-2 run by getting the first six points from the foul line before Ammons hit a jumper and Freddie Goldstein would make his only three-pointer of the game. That run would put the Jags within 52-48 with 5:22 left in the game.
The Red Wolves would answer with a three of their own on their next possession while the Jags would only make two field goals the rest of the game, both by Augustine Rubit. The Red Wolves would also go 5-of-7 from the foul line in the final 44 seconds of the game.
Rubit led all players with 20 points while adding 17 rebounds to earn his seventh double-double of the season and 33rd of his Jaguar career. The only other Jag to score in double-digits was Antoine Allen who got the start when Roberson was suspended. The next highest scorers were Ammons and Goldstein who both had five points.
The Red Wolves had two players with 15 points in the game, which were their only double-digit scorers as well.
Jaguar players had many open shots at the basket, but simply couldn’t make them. Rubit even missed an uncontested dunk in the game. Even free throws were iffy as the Jags went 16-of-23 (69.9 percent).
South Alabama’s interim head coach Jeff Price will have to find a way to help his team over their shooting woes. But he will have to do it without their second leading scorer in Roberson as it is unknown if his suspension will be short term or if it will be long term.
The Jags are back in action on January 3rd when they travel to Lousiana-Monroe for a 7:30pm tipoff.
Reports are that South Alabama head football coach Joey Jones has narrowed down the list of applicants to six or seven to fill the defensive coordinator position. Interviews will be conducted over the next day or two for the list of candidates. The position became available when Coach Bill Clark accepted the head coaching position Jacksonville State University.
None of the names have been released but two names have cropped up as possibilities for the position. There has not been any confirmation that these two names are on the list to be interviewed or extend beyond internet rumor. But former Alabama head football coach Mike Dubose’s name has been tossed around and former Alabama player and former Mississippi State head football coach Sylvester Croom has been mentioned.
South Alabama secondary coach Duwan Walker will likely accept the defensive coordinator position on his friend Bill Clark’s staff. It is unknown if any other defensive staff have been or will be approached by Clark or Walker, if he is indeed hired, to fill positions on the staff.
According to AL.com, Coach Jones received more than 150 applicants for the position and was not surprised by the number of applicants. “This is a good, Division I coordinator’s job,” Jones said in their interview. “It pays well and it’s a good situation here. I expected to get a lot of people applying for the job.”
It’s likely that Coach Jones will fill the position by January 11 when coaches can continue recruiting for the February 6, when high school seniors can beging signing their National Letter-Of-Intent’s for the school of their choice. Although, that is not a hard deadline.
After the turmoil surrounding Ronnie Arrow’s sudden retirement the Jags rebounded behind the leadership of Coach Jeff Price to add another win to their 2-0 record in Conference play. But the way they played really stood out.
The team improved their shot selection and ball movement and even made great defensive stands when the Trojans of UALR made a charge at them and they had an answer.
UALR was the team on top of the Western Division of the Sun Belt Conference and the Jags handed them a 15 point defeat. Is South Alabama a team to reckon with this season? There was an argument to be made before Arrow’s retirment. But that argument had some if’s to it. If the Jaguars moved the ball around, if they were smarter about their shot selection, if they hustled on defense and if they played as a team.
The Jags sent a message that they will not allow the mid-season coaching change affect their goals this season. They want to win conference games, position themselves to win the conference tournament and earn their place in the NCAA Tournament. It may be too early to say that the team led by interim coach Jeff Price will continue to be a team to reckon with, but with the win they made their first statement in the affirmative over UALR.
Middle Tennessee State, the favorite to win the conference this season, will meet on January 5 at the Mitchell Center. This game should prove to be a clash of conference power. MTSU will have to take notice of the Jags if they continue to play like they did in Price’s first game.
Only time will tell how the team continues to develop and perform under Price’s leadership.
While the team performed well after being placed in a tough spot, so did Coach Price. He replaced a coach who he served as an assistant coach twice and both times at South Alabama.
Price told AL.com that UALR was his “scout game”. Meaning he was prepared the scouting report for then head coach Ronnie Arrow. “So I was pretty in tune, as was our staff, as to what they were doing,” Price said to AL.com. “I thought we just did a really nice job taking them out of their game. I think it can lift us. We’re sitting here 3-0 in the league now with another home game coming up and hopefully we’ll have a good break and come back ready to go.”
The next game is on Saturday, December 29 at the Mitchell Center when the Jags host Arkansas State. After a three day holiday, the team is expected to return to campus to begin preparing for an ASU team that is 6-5 overall and 0-2 in Conference play.
From our families to your, we hope you have a very Merry Christmas from all of us at Thunderjags.com!
Also, be safe and pay attention to the weather reports on Christmas day. Severe weather will be threatening many areas in the South.
Barrington Stevens is becoming the glue that holds his team together, something that has become increasingly true following Saturday’s 77-62 victory over Arkansas Little Rock.
The Texan freshman was South Alabama’s starting point guard for the second game in a row and responded with his best game as a Jaguar, scoring a career-high 17 points, including 3-of-4 shooting from behind the three-point line. He added one assist, block and rebound respectively.
More importantly, his team is now 2-0 in his last two starts, a trend he would like to see continue after Christmas when Sun Belt play really heats up with matches against Arkansas State, Louisiana Monroe and Middle Tennessee.
He’s a player that recognizes his role on the team doesn’t aspire to be leading scorer every game. He wants to take the shots that make the most sense and pass first to get his veteran teammates the bulk of the scoring opportunities.
Saturday’s scoring outburst appears to be an anomaly but something Stevens can do when called upon. In fact, he’s believes himself capable of performing several needs depending on what his coaches need most.
In high school, Stevens average 11.9 points and 3.1 assists as a senior at Allen High School in Allen, Tex. He also set the school record for assists in a single game (14) that season. He hopes to bring that kind of flexibility to the Mitchell Center t this season.
“I always try to be solid, not turn the ball over, and let the game come to me,” Stevens said. “We have people that can score and it’s really great to have those kinds of weapons around me so I can just feed off them.”
Remarkably, Stevens is just a freshman and the second youngest player on the team behind Viktor Juricek. But he’s not worried about age or his perception. He just wants to be recognized as a contributing member to his team and that will come with his continued hard work and effort.
“I just want to run the team and be seen as a good floor general,” Stevens said. “My job is to get my teammates in position to score as well as to break down the defense and get easy buckets for myself and others. If we do that and we get the win, that’s how I know that I’ve done my job. A good point guard is always measured by his winning percentage.”
Now Stevens is looking to return home to Allen, Texas as a humbled but breakout player. He’s going to rest up during the holidays and maintain momentum going against Arkansas State. Game day is set for Dec. 29 with tip-off set for 7:05 p.m.
The Jeff Price era of South Alabama basketball is off to a good start, with the Jaguars defeating Arkansas Little Rock, 77-62 to take sole possession of first place in the overall Sun Belt Conference standings. While Western Kentucky is also undefeated in the SBC, they are 2-0 and playing outside of the league tonight against nationally-ranked Louisville.
It was an overall good day for Price who had just four days to prepare for the Trojans following the surprise retirement of former head coach Ronnie Arrow. Price had served as Arrow’s assistant from 1989-1993 and again for the last two years.
“I was obviously very pleased with our effort,” Price said. “I thought we came out with good energy after we got over that lull at the beginning of the game. I was really happy with the way we shared the ball. Our assist-to-turnover ratio was really good. We were really good defensively against a pretty good team. … Really pleased with the way we finished the game. I’m trying to get this team to have a little more killer instinct and to know how to put people away. Each time they got close we built it up and it ended up being 15.”
Down 15-13 roughly 10 minutes into the game, momentum had already started to shift from the Trojans to the Jaguars when USA unleashed a 16-0 run to take a 29-15 lead. In response, Little Rock head coach Steve Shields was forced to call a time out.
The Jaguars had raised the tempo from what had started out as stoic to hectic after the first five minutes, challenging shots and never giving up on second chance scoring opportunities. Not even the UALR time out could stop the momentum as the Jaguars maintained the frantic pace and ended the half with a 39-30 lead.
Little Rock got close on several occasions in the second half but could never take back the lead. The Trojans went on a 12-4 run halfway through the period but could only get as close as three points. The Jaguars eventually built on their lead and steadied it to around nine points for most of the game and ended left with a 15 point victory.
They did it using a balanced attack of consistent shooting, a positive assist-to-turnover ratio and while also forcing the young Little Rock team to turn over the ball 21 times. The total package resulted in a double-digit victory for the second time.
The only apparent flaw in South Alabama’s game was their struggles from the free throw line, which was limited to 17-of-28 attempts — a 60.7 percent clip.
The team appeared energized by the change in leadership and responded to Price by delivering their most-impressive victory since defeating nationally-ranked Florida State, 76-71 on Nov. 9. Stevens said the transition from Arrow to Price “wasn’t drastic” and added that his leadership led to the team playing “more loose.”
“Coach Price is a great coach,” Stevens added. “He lets us play and I feel like we got 100% from everyone who stepped in and played today. We tried to not think about the transition and focus on our progression to become a championship team.”
After defeating Arkansas Little Rock on Saturday, the Jaguars are one step closer. The Jaguars are the only 3-0 team in the conference and stand at 6-5 overall. The Trojans drop to 8-6 and 2-1 in the SBC.
The season will take just a short break for Christmas and will resume on Dec. 29 when Arkansas State visits the Mitchell Center. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m.
Augustine Rubit scored his 1,000 career point on Saturday, becoming just the 16th player in school history to accomplish the feat.
Jeff Price on talking to Ronnie Arrow before the game:
“It’s been, as you can imagine, quite a whirlwind the last few days and I have spoken with Ronnie and his spirits are good and he wished us luck. I’m sure I’ll talk to him again after the game. It’s interesting to see how everyone’s going to react. I think everyone’s just sitting and waiting to see how we would react and early in the game we were down 7-1 and it just took a little time.
“It was like hey, we better get going and time to move on. I thought once we reacted to that and moved on and got into the flow of the game it was good. You just learn in this business you just have to go on to the next chapter and move on. This game will make us realize that we can be a championship caliber team and just keep getting better.”
Today presents a case of baptism by fire for South Alabama men’s basketball as they will do battle with Sun Belt West leading Arkansas Little Rock on today at the Mitchell Center.
This afternoon’s game (tipoff, 2 p.m.) will also be the Jaguars’ first under interim head coach Jeff Price, who took over when Ronnie Arrow mysteriously retired on Wednesday morning.
It’s a tall task to expect Price to take a team that has been so inconsistent this year to defeat a Little Rock team that appears to have one of the best rotations in the league. But if there was ever a predictor that indicated success under this sort of situation, this would be it.
For starters, we know this team has talent. They showed it at the start of the season when the defeated nationally ranked Florida State University. The team has yet to put together a full 40 minutes and some have speculated that is what Price was promoted to inspire.
It’s no secret that Arrow was not a popular figure amongst many of his players over the past few years. Perhaps the decision for Arrow to retire was based on the hopes that a new coach would produce different results down the stretch and in years to come.
The same issues have plagued South Alabama men’s basketball over the past few seasons including apathy on defense, especially from outside the perimeter and cold stretches on shooting from the floor.
Perhaps a change of leadership will produce a change of fortune as well.
There is increased emotion surrounding this game — and now the entire season. In addition to the overall Sun Belt lead at stake, South Alabama is now looking to prove they can win on their own merit, regardless of coaching and rise the occasion when it counts the most.
And today’s game certainly counts.
South Alabama is 2-0 in the Sun Belt Conference thus far and are tied for first place with Western Kentucky in the East Division. The Jaguars are 2-1 at home this season and they have played the 323rd ranked schedule in the country. South Alabama is averaging 71.9 points, 12.1 assists and are shooting 42.5 percent. Defensively they are allowing 70.4 points and 12.7 assists. Their opponents are shooting 44.5 percent from the floor.
The Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans are also unbeaten in the Sun Belt thus far and lead the West Division. However, they’ve lost two of their last three games and are 0-3 on the road. Arkansas-Little Rock is averaging 68.2 points, 13.5 assists and is shooting 43.1 percent from the floor. Defensively their opponents are averaging 63.9 points, 11.0 assists and have allowed a shooting percentage of 39.8 percent from the floor.
The University of South Alabama men’s basketball team spoke about Wednesday’s sudden announcement of head coach Ronnie Arrow’s retirement on Thursday. Instead of Wednesday being a normal day, it would be anything but that.
Players said that Coach Arrow walked in, called his players together, informed them that he had decided to retire effective immediately then made a quick trip around the room shaking hands with each player before he left.
The players were shocked.
“I was shocked because we just came off a win (over Arrow’s former school Texas A&M-Corpus Christi where he returned for his second stint as USA’s head coach),” Augustine Rubit said Thursday to AL.com. “And we were just looking forward to getting better and bringing more wins for him in the conference. It was just surprising that it happened all of a sudden.”
“We were all shocked,” he continued. “Going through the year, you knew you had coach Arrow as the head coach. That’s all you expect. I know we have some really good coaches who are stepping in. In some ways, it’s the same thing as him. I feel like we still have good coaches.”
Dr. Joel Erdmann announced that associate head coach Jeff Price as interim head coach in the press conference on Wednesday. This is also Price’s second stint at South Alabama.
“He just walked in and he told us all that he wasn’t going to be our coach anymore and that he was proud of us and that he wishes us well on the future of the season,” Javier Carter recalling about the meeting. “We were just all stunned, honestly. Everybody was just in awe because we didn’t know what to expect. It was just out of the blue because we were getting ready for practice.”
Carter indicated that none of the players sensed that Arrow was disappointed or unhappy or even leaning towards that decision.
Additionally, Carter said that the meeting was so short and abrupt that none of the players had an opportunity to ask Arrow why he had made that decision. “None of us has talked to him to my knowledge. He came in and he talked to us and he greeted us all around the room and that was about it,” said Carter.
Rubit said that the players sensed the somberness and that they recognized the seriousness of the moments before Arrow addressed the team. “He came in, it was serious. Everybody put their phones down. We were thinking it’s like a normal day, (we’d) watch film. And he said it and it didn’t seem real. He said it, shook our hands and walked out. It didn’t seem real at all.”
“It was kind of awkward, just sitting back thinking about what the first game will be like without him. But I feel like all the coaches taught the same thing and followed him so we’ll see how it happens and how it goes.”
Carter said that the team is comfortable with Price taking over. “Coach Price as an assistant, we’ve really enjoyed him. He’s a players’ coach and a coach coach. We really enjoy coach Price and we believe if anybody else is for the job, it’s definitely him.”
“Everybody has their ups and downs, like anybody does as a head coach, but we all loved coach Arrow and we enjoyed him as a coach,” Carter finished.
Coach Price is excited to take over the program despise the circumstances. Price said that the joined Arrow’s staff at South Alabama because he could visualize himself taking over the program when Arrow’s time came to an end. But he didn’t expect it to be Wednesday.
Price was just as shocked as any of the South Alabama fans when he found out about Arrow’s decision.
“It was rather abrupt and took us all a little by surprise,” Price said in his first meeting with the media since the announcement. “Particularly me. I’ve known Ronnie for over 20 years. I think it took us all by surprise a little bit but I think up to this point everyone has handled it well and understands that we have to move forward and get back on track and do what we have to do.”
“You never want things to happen this way,” he continued. “I came back to South Alabama because I wanted to be the head coach here one day, which is why I came back here. But obviously you want to come back and be the head coach after we go to the (NCAA) tournament and Ronnie retires. That’s been different and difficult just because of my respect for him and our relationship. But I’m sure Ronnie understands as well, and wishes me the best of luck and obviously the players he was close to as well the best of luck.”
This becomes Price’s fourth head coaching stint as he takes over a team that is 5-5 on the season and 2-0 in the Sun Belt Conference. The Jags have a big win over then ranked Florida State to open the regular season. Price’s overall record as a head coach is 318-188 in 17 seasons as a head coach at Georgia Southern (1999-2009), West Virginia Wesleyan (2010-11) and Lynn, FL (1993-99).
Previously he was an assistant coach at South Alabama under Ronnie Arrow from 1989-1993, twice at Washington, Georgia Southern, Union KY, and Pikeville KY.
Now Price gets to audition for the permanent job the remainder of the season. He will be judged on how he handles the team and his team’s success. But Price said that he cannot view it as an audition, he has to approach it as service to the players.
“I think you have to stay away from yourself and understand this is about these guys,” Price said. “These guys have worked so hard. We’ve been at this even back to the summer when we went to Canada. We’ve been working for six or seven months and it’s about them right now. My situation will be taken care of based on how things go and it’s all about them and how they perform and present themselves, and I think we’ve got a great group of guys and they’ll do that.”
According to Price, there will not be any dramatic changes in how the team looks and plays, but there will likely be some differences.
“I don’t think, because we’ve been at it so long, that you can make drastic changes,” he said. “You’ll see some changes in regard to maybe how we approach the game, not so much what we do on the floor. We might open the floor up a little bit more. I respect coach Arrow and I learned from him in everything that he did. I think if anything changes you’ll see maybe some changes in our approach to the game and game day and practice and things like that more than you will, in particular, on the court.”
As of Thursday’s time with the media, Price said that he had not spoken to Arrow about his decision. “I’m sure he had his reasons (for retiring now), whatever they are, and I try not to speculate,” he said. “I’m sure a lot of people try to speculate and at this point, but obviously he felt like it was time to do that (retire).”
Price said that he believes the players have reacted well to the news. “It’s hard to tell (how the decision may have affected them immediately). Morale has been good to this point. I think our guys are mature enough to understand that this is part of the business. I’ve been doing this 30 years and this is just part of the business. People come and people go and you learn to circle the wagons and start over and regroup and I think after we get past this our guys will be excited. We’ve got a talented bunch of guys and I really like our team. I think we have a chance to have a special year, we’ve just got to get past this and regroup.”
“We have a goal in mind. This isn’t about me. This is about this university and these players and the success they know they can have. I think our team has a lot of promise and they know that and they’re smart enough to know you can’t let things drag on, you’ve got to get back to work. Hopefully, we’ll see that on Saturday.”
South Alabama will host Arkansas-Little Rock on Saturday in the team’s first game since Arrow’s retirment. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:05pm at The Mitchell Center.
The University of South Alabama football team received National Letter-of-Intent’s from six junior-college transfers on Wednesday.
Jay Jones, Cristobal Dinham, Montell Garner, Desmond LaVelle and twins Steven and Steffon Fuller all signed with the Jaguars on Wednesday. They will enroll at USA in January and will be eligible to participate in spring drills.
Jones is a 5’9″, 180-pound running back from Horn Lake, Mississippi adn transferring from Northwest Mississippi Community College. Jones rushed for 504 yards and three touchdowns to rank in the top 50 in the nation rushing. He also added 11 pass receptions for 150 yards and a touchdown. He began the season with an 83-yard, one touchdown rushing performance with another 23 yards on three catches against Copiah-Lincoln CC. He followed that up with a season-high of 157 yards rushing on 29 carries in a win at Jones County CC. He then followed that performance with a 126 yard rushing performance with a touchdown against Holmes CC. He also had a 51 yard reception during the season.
Dinham is 5’10”, 210-pound running back from Lithonia, Georgia and transfers from Independence Community College in Kansas. He ranked fifth in the NCJAA by averaging 126.5 yards per game and finished the season with 1,012 yards and 10 touchdowns. He rushed for 100+ yards in five of his eight games. He rushed 30 times for 276 yards in the season finale in a win over Highland Community College. He tied a school record by scoring four times in a game against Dodge City Communtity College while rushing for 176 yards in the game. He also rushed for 157 and 110 yards in back-to-back wins for the school.
Garner is a 6’1″ 185-pound cornerback originally from Colleyville, Texas and transferring from Navarro Junior College. He tallied eight pass break-ups in the season which tied him for fifth in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference. He also added 23 tackles and an interception. The Bulldogs finished ranked fourth in the NJCAA poll with a 10-2 record. Against nationally ranked Kilgore Junior College, Garner tallied 10 tackles in the 42-14 win. Then against Blinn JC he tallied seven tackles, three passes defended and an interception in the win.
LaVelle is a 5’11” 230-pound linebacker from Decatur, Alabama who transfers to USA from Northwest Mississippi CC. He tied for fourth on the team with 53 tackles, with 4.5 of them for a loss, two fumble recoveries an interception and a pass defended while earning first-team All-Conference honors. His team finished 8-2 on the season ranked ninth in the final NJCAA rankings and a defense ranked 14th in the nation with 316.6 yards per game. As a freshman in 2011, LaVelle collected 25 tackles, two of them for loss, an interception and a fumble recovery.
The Fuller brothers are from Scooba, Mississippi and attended Kemper County High School. They both attended East Central Mississippi CC. Steffon is a 6’4″ 205-pound safety who recorded 54 tackles and four pass break-ups last season to be named first-team Mississippi Association of Community and Junior College’s First-Team All-State. He recorded eight tackles in three of the Warriors’ nine games including against nationally-ranked East Mississippi CC.
Steven Fuller is also 6’4″ weighing in at 200-pounds. He played in the secondary, at wide receiver and on special teams until last year. Defensively he had 20 tackles, three of them for loss, two pass defenses and a blocked kick. Offensively he caught seven passes for 95 yards while collecting 13 pancake blocks on run plays.
“Any time you sign junior college kids, you want to upgrade your starting lineup. Not that these young men will be given a starting job, but when you sign a junior college student-athlete you anticipate that they can come in and start,” Jones stated. “We’ve got a couple of safeties that we feel really good about — they are real good athletes who had a ton of offers — who will help us fill the void losing B.J. Scott, and a tall cornerback. We also signed two running backs because we had a lot of depth issues with injuries there in the fall. You can’t have enough good running backs. And with Desmond LaVelle returning, we signed four on defense and two on offense.”
“I think we have upgraded our team for sure.”
Wednesday was the first day Junior College transfers could sign their National LOI’s. They have through January 15th to sign with schools.
It’s somewhat ironic that South Alabama men’s basketball head coach Ronnie Arrow would choose to retire following a game in which his team defeated Texas A&M: Corpus Christi – the team that Arrow coached in between stints at the University of South Alabama.
In a move that can only be described as sudden, Arrow has asked and was granted his release as head coach of the Jaguars on Wednesday morning during a scheduled meeting with Athletic Director Joel Erdmann. As a result, assistant coach Jeff Price has taken over as interim head coach with a national coaching search to take place at the end of the season.
“It’s not entirely unheard of for a head coach to step down in the middle of a season,” Erdmann explained on Wednesday during a press conference. “He expressed a desire to retire, and I have accepted that notice of retirement, effective immediately.”
Arrow spoke to his players early on Wednesday morning and the team was “quite surprised,” according to Erdmann.
The Athletic Director followed that meeting by talking to the players separately where he told the team that a change in leadership will not change the goal of this season. He asked that the players continue to work toward a conference championship and securing a post-season berth.
“I think part of the formula and consistency moving forward is Jeff Price,” Erdmann said. “I can’t undervalue the amount of respect I have for him. The players have respect for him and I think the players will rebound and recover under Jeff’s leadership.”
Neither Arrow nor Price attendedWednesday’s press conference but the USA AD confirmed that Price would be considered for the full-time job next season if that was something he was interested applying for.
Erdmann admitted that the timing was indeed odd but would not confirm if Arrow’s decision was performance-based. South Alabama began the season on a high note, defeating nationally-ranked Florida State University, 76-71 on Nov. 9 in Tallahassee.
But the rest of the season has been marred by inconsistency with the Jaguars losing three-straight during the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in Atlanta as well another two-game skid to New Mexico State and UAB. However, South Alabama remains undefeated in Sun Belt Conference play, holding victories over Florida Atlantic and Florida International.
“Decisions like this are often personal in nature and I have an obligation to recognize that and move forward,” Erdmann said.
When asked if Arrow was retiring from the game of basketball, Erdmann paused and simply said, “He’s retiring from his position as head coach of South Alabama men’s basketball.”
Arrow has an overall record of 211-161 at USA, including a 112-84 mark in Sun Belt games. He’s been selected as the Conference Coach of the Year on three occasions and led USA to its only NCAA Tournament victory, a dramatic 86-84 victory over the University of Alabama on March, 17, 1989.
“Ronnie has a great history here and we have a great deal of respect for him,” Erdmann said.
Jeff Price will retain Arrow’s staff for the remainder of the season. The Jaguars’ next game is a home league contest versus West Conference leading Arkansas Little Rock. That game will be played this Saturday, Dec. 22 at 2:05 p.m.
Erdmann on the team’s chances for the rest of the season:
“We’re still 5-5 and 2-0 in the conference. We have perhaps…one of the best players in the league and a great supporting cast. This team has battled through moments of inconsistency that has led to what we can consider disappointing losses but we have a real potential for a post-season berth.”
Erdmann on Arrow’s second stint as South Alabama head coach:
The circumstances of the second hire can be seen as unique. I believe he was hired to take what was a veteran team to the post-season and that’s what he was able to accomplish.
On college basketball in Mobile and recruiting opportunities:
Unquestionably, we have a very recruitable city. We have a recruitable region, facilities – and we have the potential to have an amazing crowd environment.
We need to sell more tickets but we’ve done a great job recently of attracting the student body to our games and I think that is only going to continue.