USA Men’s Basketball Open Season Tonight At The Mitchell Center
The South Alabama Men’s Basketball team will officially open the 2013-2014 season Friday night against Detroit at the Mitchell Center.
The Jags defeated Mobile 65-55 in an exhibition game on Tuesday. Even though the Jags started slow, they came to life in the second half to power their way to a win with a strong defensive effort as they held the Rams to only 174% shooting in the first half and 29.1% for the game.
“We’re really excited about our opportunity on Friday night to start the season of at home against a very good opponent in Detroit,” head coach Matthew Graves said. “The nice thing from the exhibition game is we have a lot of stuff we need to get better at, but at the same time, I thought from a defensive standpoint, we played pretty well.”
“We learned that offensively we have a long ways to go,” Graves noted. “We need to take care of the ball better and we need to play with a little more pace offensively, but at the same time, we’ve got guys that can turn it up. For example, Augustine (Rubit) really turned it up in the second half and I thought Mychal Ammons played well in the second half, so we have some guys that can turn it up and play at a higher level but we need to show that consistency throughout the entire game.”
“We held Mobile to a 29 percent field goal percentage and when you turn the ball over as much as we did, usually teams are getting layups and easy transition baskets, but despite our turnovers we were still able to get back and set our defense most of the night,” Graves explained. “We made it difficult for them to get open looks, so I was really pleased with that.”
“We forced things that really weren’t there,” Graves said. “We need to understand that when we come down the floor, we don’t need to attack off the first ballscreen or off the first pass. We need to let the offense work for itself a little bit, and the other thing we worked on yesterday in practice was, when we get a defensive stop and go in transition, we need to be opportunistic, but at the same time, it’s just not a free-for-all. We had several clips where we really defended for 20-25 seconds and made them take a tough shot and then ran down the floor and either turned it over or took a bad shot ourselves. All that hard work you put into the defensive end of the floor, you wasted on an (offensive) possession. We want to take away a few wasted possessions as possible.”
“They’re going to come in and they’re going to play very hard,” Graves said about their opening oppenent Detroit. “They do a great job defensively of getting out in the passing lanes. They forced 25 turnovers in their two exhibition games so that will be a great challenge for us. They do a great job of going to the offensive glass. Again, two things we emphasize: taking care of the basketball and blocking out are going to be tested right away in game one. Coach McCallum will have those guys ready and we’re excited to play them.”
“You’re looking at a program; they’ve been good for years and years,” Graves said. “They’ve got NCAA Tournament appearances and they play in a very good league. They have guys that understand the culture and have a toughness about how they play. Basketball is a little bit different in the Midwest. It’s what guys do. So we’re going to play a team, even though they’ve lost a lot of guys, those guys are going to understand how to play, be very tough and very physical. It’s going to be a great challenge for our young team on the first night.”
The opening tip against Detroit is set for 7:05pm tonight at the Mitchell Center. Come out and support your Jags!