Weaver: Brief thoughts prior to Saturday’s basketball games against Arkansas Little Rock

December 22, 2012 · By · Filed Under Uncategorized 

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.

The facts:

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.

Game on.

Matt Weaver is attending today’s game for Thunderjags and can be found on Twitter @MattWeaverJag. Follow him and @USAThunderjags for live game updates and postgame stories and quotes.

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