South Alabama Sports Weekend Roundup
South Alabama has a familiar face returning, but in a different capacity.
Olivia Mohler, former Jaguar volleyball standout, has returned to South Alabama but will be joining the Jaguar basketball squad.
She decided to play volleyball over basketball at USA and her volleyball eligibility expired after the 2011-2012 season. She was then offered the opportunity to play a season of basketball for the Lady Jaguars but she chose to persue a professional volleyball career overseas. However, when she failed to get her visa in time and had to return home, the opportunity resurfaced when she returned to USA to complete her work for her degree.
On Friday, she joined the lady Jags for her first basketball practice since high school.
First head Jaguar head coach Terry Fowler noticed her 6’2″ height coupled with her athleticism and competitive nature was a perfect fit for the basketball team.
The Lady Jaguars are on a two-game winning streak as they are set to host Ole Miss on Monday night at the Mitchell Center. She may see her first minutes of playing time then with only three practices under her belt.
“When the volleyball didn’t work out (overseas) and I came back, I talked to the coaches again and I decided to give it a shot,” Mohler told AL.com. “I’ve always loved the sport. They had said that I could contribute if I worked hard. I wanted to see if that opportunity was still there and it was. I guess it depends on how hard I work (how quickly she appears in a game). Hopefully, if I continue to work hard the coaches have said I can definitely contribute to the team the rest of the season.
“As far as volleyball and basketball go, as far as the level of play, playing volleyball and basketball is pretty much the same competition-wise, but the sports really don’t have a lot in common. There’s a lot more jumping in volleyball than basketball but the conditioning I’ve been doing is a whole lot different than what I’ve done in past years. … My basketball knowledge, just getting that back, I’ve been telling the coaches I’m working hard to get that back. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got. They are giving me the opportunity to play and I’m going to do everything I can for them. Hopefully my basketball knowledge will come back real quick.”
“I missed it a lot more than I thought I would, actually,” Mohler continued with AL.com. “It was kind of an easier decision to make when I was in high school. My dad and my brother both played basketball in college (at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College) and they were always pushing (me) toward basketball. Every year that I played volleyball I found myself watching (basketball) more and playing it more because I missed it a lot. I guess because it is in the family and it was hard because it was something I didn’t completely stop doing.”
Welcome back Olivia!
Augustine Rubit scored a career-high 35 points but Gonzaga held on for a 68-59 win over the Jaguars in the “Battle in Seattle” on Saturday.
The Bulldogs built up a 22-3 lead over the Jaguars with 9:49 left to play in the opening half, but Augustine Rubit connected on a 3-pointer which sparked the Jaguars to begin clawing their way back into the game.
With 9:39 left in the half, Rubit hits his first three-pointer, then after a Gonzaga dunk Rubit answered with one of his own, then after a turnover by Gary Bell Jr, Rubit hit a second three-pointer. A steal by Rubit on the other end of the court would set up Antoine Allen to nail a three and just like that the Jaguars were within ten points, 24-14 with 8:28 left until halftime.
South Alabama would cut the lead down to seven points with 3:45 left in the half after two free-throws by Rubit made it 30-23, but USA would only only net one basket the rest of the half and would go into the locker room down 41-25.
USA would open the second half on a 10-3 run, which included another 3-pointer by Rubit, to cut the lead to single digits again. But the Jaguars could only get within eight points of the ‘Zags the rest of the way.
Rubit took the team on his back as he was the only Jaguar in double-digits scoring for the game. He had 35 points and seven rebounds to lead the Jags on 11-of-16 shooting while making all 10 of his free-throw attempts. Aakim Saintil was the next closest scorer with eight points. Antoine Allen added six points and six rebounds.
Gonzaga had three to score in double-digits with Bell Jr leading the way with 20 points to go along with six rebounds. Sam Dower Jr. added 12 points and 11 rebounds and Kevin Pangos put in 10 points.
The Jaguars fall to 5-5 on the season as Gonzaga improves to 10-1. The national press calls the ‘zags win “ugly” and “too close for comfort”. Both teams struggled from the field as Gonzaga shot 41% and USA shot 32% for the game.
USA returns home to the Mitchell Center to face Dillard on Tuesday night for a 7:05pm tipoff.
South Alabama receivers coach Jerry Mack is among four candidates for the head coaching position at North Carolina Central. Along with Mack, Winston-Salem head coach Connell Maynor, Southern University head coach Dawson Odoms and Nevada tight ends coach James Spadey are the top four for the position.
Mack is a native of Memphis and began playing at Jackson State before transferring to Arkansas State. As an assistant coach he has had stints at Delta State, Jackson State, Central Arkansas, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Memphis prior to South Alabama. He has also had internships in the NFL with the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills.
We could hear who they decide to hire by Thursday.
27 current and former Student-Athletes Graduate
South Alabama had 27 current and former USA student-athletes graduate Saturday at the Mitchell Center during the schools annual fall graduation ceremony. Among them six where All-Sun Belt Conference honorees and a pair of Player of the Year honorees.
Augustine Rubit was the 2012-2013 Player of the Year, but he was unable to attend due to the game against Gonzaga. Brittany Fowler was the softball Player of the Year also earned her degree.
Nolan Earley, Romelle Jones, Shelby Owen, Eddy Cabrera, Matt Calcagnini, Clifton Crews, Charles Harris, Bryson James, Kenneth Johnson, Alonzo Long, Byron Sneed, Montavious Williams, Drew Cofield, Jeff DeBlieux, Anthony Izzio, Brent Mitchell, Graham Odom, Ashton Krause, Jeff Long, Josh Nelson, Veronica Cherizol, Camille Reynolds, Chris Bockstael, Elina Strauniece were among the student-athletes who earned their degrees on Saturday.