Thursday afternoon the Lady Jaguars were finally able to hit the floor against Georgia State after their 24-hour bus trip to Atlanta on Tuesday into Wednesday.
Unfortunately their second half rally fell short as they lost 62-55 to the Lady Panthers.
USA jumped out to an early 8-2 lead, but the offense went stone cold as they missed 14 of their next 15 shots before Meghan Dunn snapped the 11-conscutive missed shot streak with 9:43 left in the first half. An 18-2 run would put GSU up 20-10 with about six minutes left until halftime.
At the half, the Jags were only 6-of-31 from the field (19.4%) and had only made one three-pointer. GSU shot 45.2% with 22 of its 31 points coming in the paint.
In the second half the Jags finally found their shot as Dunn connected from long range to open the second half. But GSU went on a 13-1 run over the next three-and-a-half minutes to take a 24 point lead on the Jaguars.
A Breanna Hall pass to Ronneka Robertson for an easy shot would spur a 13-2 run by the Jags over the next four-plus minutes. The Jags would cut the lead to 46-33 with less than 12 minutes to play.
Two baskets by the Panthers put them back up by 17 points, but the Jags continued to fight. Sharon Sanders would nail a 3-pointer with 4:01 left to cut the Panther lead to single digits at 54-46.
Later Dunn would bank in a three from the left wing and would follow that up with a baseline jumper with 1:46 left in the game to put the Jags within five points, 58-53.
But Kayla Nolan would hit a bucket and make her and-one to all but seal the game.
In the second half the Jags were 14-of-25 (56%) from the floor and 6-of-13 from 3-point range.
South Alabama fell to 6-12 overall and 4-4 in Conference play on the season with the loss. Meghan Dunn led the Jags with 17 points as she went 7-of-14 from the field and led the team with three 3-pointers and three steals. Jennifer Johnson added 11 points off the bench on 5-of-12 shooting. Breanna Hall came up just short of a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.
Georgia State improved to 10-10 overall and 6-2 in conference play with its fifth consecutive win. Alisha Andrews led all scorers with 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting with five assists and three steals. Brittany Logan earned her third-consecutive double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
THe Lady Jaguars will face Arkansas-Little Rock on Saturday. An “Old-timers” game is set for former players at 11am with the Lady Jags facing the Trojans at 2:05pm with the men facing the Trojans at 4:05pm.
The Jaguar softball team received two more honors as the season quickly approaches.
Hannah Campbell was selected to the Top-50 “Watch List” for the 2014 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award as announced by the Amateur Softball Association of America and USA Softball.
This is the 13th year the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award will be given by the National Governing Body for softball in the United States. It is designed to recognize the outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country.
Campbell is a native of Satsuma, Alabama and finished last season with a 22-9 record and had the nation’s second-best ERA of 1.08. She was selected as a Second-Team All-American by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, the program’s first-ever All-American.
She was named the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Most Outstanding Player for the second year in a row after leading the Jaguars to back-to-back conference tournament titles. She recorded six saves and 10 shutouts last year, both single-season records for USA.
She throw three no-hitters, including a perfect game against Mississippi Valley State in the first round of the 2013 NCAA Mobile Regional hosted by South Alabama.
The preseason watch list includes 24 seniors, 20 juniors and six sophomores. Freshmen are ineligible.
Also, the Jags were ranked 22nd in the preseason ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top-25 poll. The announcement came from the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and USA Softball.
Last week they were ranked 20th in the USA Today/National Fastpick Coaches Association Division I Preseason Top-25 Poll.
Both are firsts for the program.
The same six opponents that were ranked last week were also ranked in this poll. UAB was 21, Georgia was 23, Baylor was 18, Lousiana-Lafayette was 13 and LSU was 17.
Virginia Tech and Western Kentucky received votes but were not ranked.
The South Alabama women’s basketball team had a trip to remember and will have a story to tell for the rest of their lives.
The Lady Jaguars left out Tuesday morning en route to Atlanta ahead of their game against Georgia State on Wednesday. However the routine trip ended up taking them 24 hours.
They left campus at 9:30am on Tuesday just as the winter storm was starting to hit the southeast. But they did not arrive at their Atlanta hotel until 9:30am on Wednesday after spending the night on the bus and walking the final mile or so on foot.
The team started to encounter snow when they reached Greenville, Alabama and it continued as they made their way to Montgomery. They had planned to stop in Montgomery for lunch, but as they looked for restaurants they found that most of the places were closed. However they found a Chick-fil-A that was just about to close and they agreed to allow the team to eat inside.
As they passed the Georgia line they started to see flurries then when thy got to Peachtree, which is about 40 miles from Atlanta, they started to see snow on the roads. At this time traffic was still moving.
It wasn’t until they got downtown did the traffic start to congest. When they were looking for Georgia 400 exit is when the traffic halted.
Head coach Terry Fowler told AL.com, “There are signs everywhere (warning of icy conditions) and because it’s an overpass, (Georgia 400) is iced up pretty bad. We see all these trucks and such, but none are going over Georgia 400. No trucks, no buses are trying, only cars and that’s sporadically. So we’re not going to get on Georgia 400, we’re going to take the next exit down and circle back to the hotel. But by now it’s just total gridlock. It is just stopped.
South Alabama takes another hit to the coaching staff as AL.com reports that quarterbacks coach Bryant Vincent has accepted the offensive coordinator position at UAB under head coach Bill Clark.
Vincent has served as an assistant coach for the Jaguars for the last three seasons and has been coaching the quarterbacks for the last two seasons. Prior to USA he was the head coach at Spanish Fort high school for four seasons where he won the 2010 Class 5A state championship. He coached one season at Greenville prior to that and has a 49-16 record as a head coach in the high school ranks. He was also n assistant coach at Charles Henderson, Spain Park and Hart County (KY) high schools.
Senior quarterback Ross Metheny completed 62% of his passes last season for 2,622 yards, 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions under Vincent’s tutelage.
This is the third assistant lost this offseason from head coach Joey Jones’ staff. Wide receivers coach Jerry Mack was named the head coach at North Carolina Central University, defensive coordinator Kevin Sherrer left to be a defensive assistant coach under longtime friend and University of Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.
His loss comes as a very tough time for the Jaguars as it is just over a week from National Signing Day and the staff is now down three recruiters in a key period.
Duwan Walker and Chuck Dunn, who both coached at South Alabama at some point, are expected to join him at UAB to further deepen the ties between the two schools.
“First of all, he’s a great man and a great coach and he did an excellent job at South Alabama these last three years,” South Alabama head coach Joey Jones told AL.com. “We wish him the best. He deserves to call plays and I think that’s what he wanted to do and they’ve got a good one in him.”
In the final year of the BCS era, the Sun Belt Conference finished first among the Non-AQ conferences in revenue.
The Mid-American Conference just missed out on a BCS bowl and that cost them $6 million, which would have put them ahead of the pack.
The Sun Belt led the Non-AQ conferences such as Conference USA, MAC and the Mountain West, with $4 million in BCS revenue. The MAC missed out on coming out on top with the undefeated Northern Illinois lost in the MAC championship game to miss out on an almost certain BCS birth. Then the conference went 0-5 in bowl games.
The revenue from the Non-AQ conferences were: Sun Belt $4 Million, Mountain West $3.4 Million, Conference USA $2.8 Million and the MAC with $2.28 Million.
Performance-Based revenue totally $6 millin was divided by shares. By finishing first, the Sun Belt got four shares and the Mountain West got three, and so forth.
The big five power conferences (Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12, ACC and SEC) will split 71.5% of the approximately $400 million in revenue in the first year of the college playoff’s 12-year deal.
The American Athletic Conference will drop down to the Non-AQ status and will split approximately $86.5 million in revenue from the new playoff’s. That is up from the maximum $28 million in the BCS.
As such, the Sun Belt will see a 10-fold increase in revenue which will mean an increase from about $100,000 per team to $1 million per team.
Beginning next season the highest ranked of those 59 schools, as decided by the selection committee, will receive an automatic berth in one of the four playoff bowls below the two national semifinals.
Revenue standings were kept by averaging the rank of each of the schools in the six BCS computers. The Sun Belt was first with an average team rank of 77.39. The top team was Louisiana-Lafayette which averaged 52.5 in the computers, up from 66th after defeating Tulane in the New Orleans Bowl. Co-champion Arkansas State finished 55.66 after jumping from 73 in the average computer ranking with their win over Ball State in the GoDaddy Bowl.
Next season the Sun Belt Conference membership changes significantly. Western Kentucky will move the Conference USA while former FCS powerhouses Georgia Southern and Appalachian State join the Sun Belt along with independents Idaho and New Mexico State.
While the two Sun Belt teams were not the highest ranked teams in the BCS computers, the conference’s overall ranking was higher than the other conferences. The top five from the non-BCS conferences were: Fresno State 32.2, Northern Illinois 36.5, East Carolina 46.2, Rice 47.3 and Utah State 50.2.
After falling behind by eight points at halftime, the Jaguars rallied to take the lead in the second half. But a late 12-3 run by the Mavericks was too much to overcome as the Jaguars fell 73-65.
USA shot only 28.1% in the first half but only trailed by as many as 10 points. They used a 15-5 run early in the second half to take the lead. Back-to-back three-pointers by Ken Williams and Barrington Stevens III would give the Jags a 46-45 lead.
UT-Arlington would reel off seven consecutive points, but USA responded right back with seven straight points of their own. Augustine Rubit would score the final four of the run to put the Jaguars up 53-52 with 7:34 left in the game.
But UTA would put together another 7-0 run to put themselves ahead for good. Freshman Isaiah Maston would hit a 3-pointer to try to get the Jags back on course, but Maverick Lonnie McClanahan would score the next five points to give his team an eight point advantage with just over three minutes to go.
In the final 33.4 seconds, the Mavericks went 7-of-8 from the free throw line to maintain their lead as the Jaguars tried to rally, but too little too late.
Antoine Allen led the Jags with 18 points before fouling out. Rubit added 14 points and eight rebounds. Stevens III also added 14 points while Ken Williams was the only other Jaguar to score in double-digits with 10 points. Mychal Ammons led the team in rebounds with 11 to go along with his six points.
Reger Dowell scored 21 points he hit four consecutive three-pointers when he entered the game for the Mavericks.
The Jags fall to 7-13 overall and 1-6 in conference play. UT-Arlington wins their third straight game to improve to 9-10 overall and 4-3 in conference play.
“In the second half, when we were down, I thought we showed great resolve for one of the few times this year in being able to come back from a deficit,” Jaguar head coach Matthew Graves said. “We took the lead and kept fighting but with about six or seven minutes to go, I thought they turned it up a notch and we went about six straight possessions without a stop, and that’s the end result.”
The Jags will travel to Georgia State on Thursday to face the conference leading Panthers. Tipoff is scheduled for 6pm CST.
The Lady Jaguars took UT-Arlington to overtime and finally decided the game when Meghan Dunn sank a pair of free throws with 8.7 seconds left. The Maverick last-second shot was waved off after a review to give the Jaguars a 73-72 win.
The Mavericks had thought they had won their first conference victory but after review, Malaika Green’s last second shot after an offensive rebound came just after the final buzzer sounded.
Both Dunn and Breanna Hall led the team with 21 points each. Dunn tied a career high in points as she was 6-of-14 from the field and sank all six of her free throw attempts. Hall set a new career high on 6-of-13 shooting while going 4-of-9 from three-point range. Hall also set a career mark with five steals.
Brittany Webb added 11 points and a career best seven assists. Ronneka Robertson just missed a second-consecutive double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds. Rachel Cumbo added nine points, all from 3-point range.
The lady Jaguars improved to 6-11 overall and 4-3 in conference play. The Lady Mavericks fell to 1-17 overall and 0-7 in conference play.
Normally the South Alabama men’s basketball team would have played a game last night, but the break comes and a good time for the Jaguars. The Women would have also played Wednesday night, but they too got some time off this week.
It comes after a disappointing loss to Louisiana-Monroe which was two days after the Jaguars broke their six-game losing streak with an 81-73 win over Louisiana-Lafayette.
It’s a time for Coach Matthew Graves and his team, who are 7-12 overall and 1-5 in the conference, to improve in order to try to make a run for the SBC Tournament. Currenty, they are in danger of missing the postseason tournament as only the top eight teams will participate.
Coach Graves told AL.com that the chance to get extra work in this week has been good. He said that the team was sharp early in the week but that Wednesday’s practice was probably one of the worst they have had all season. But he said that after showing the team the video from the practice that they turned around and had one of their best practices of the year.
Coach Graves keeps telling them that they just need to consistently do what the coaches are asking them and once that becomes habit, then the wins will come.
“It came at a very good time for us,” Graves told AL.com about the time off. “There’s no question that we’ve struggled. Even in the win against Louisiana(-Lafayette), we didn’t take care of the ball very well. In my opinion, we have not reached anywhere near our potential of what we can be. At the same time we can’t keep repeating the things that we do to not be successful because before long we’ll be talking that the season is over and we have underachieved. And that’s something that we certainly don’t want to do.”
The Jags will fly to Arlington, Texas this morning and will have a practice session later today. They will have a shoot-around on Saturday morning before their 7:30pm tipoff against UT-Arlington.
The Jaguar Men will go for their second conference win and to start their march towards the Conference Tournament. The Lady Jaguars will look to win back-to-back SBC games for the first time since they opened Conference play. The Ladies tip off at 5pm against UT-Arlington in Texas.
The Jaguar baseball team is set to hold their first official practice of the 2014 season today at 2pm at Eddie Stanky Field.
The Jags were Sun Belt Conference co-champion and were selected for the NCAA Regional. Coach Mark Calvi returns 11 letterwinners from last season including Matt Bell who received second-team All-SBC honors. Additionally the Jags will welcome 21 newcomers to the roster with three returning redshirt freshmen.
USA is scheduled to face LSU, Auburn, 2013 College World Series runner-up Mississippi State in non-conference midweek games. They will also travel to Arkansas for a three-game set in Fayetteville against the Razorbacks.
South Alabama will also host the 2014 Sun Belt Conference Championship for the 11th time but the first since 2007. The Jaguars have not won an SBC Tournament they have hosted since 2000 with they sweeped the bracket in four games when they were seeded fifth.
“We’re ready to get going,” coach Calvi said. “The team worked hard in the fall and during the offseason, and we are all eager to get started. We have a challenging schedule, but that is what we need in order to be ready for the postseason and get to where we want to go.”
South Alabama will kickoff their season on Friday, February 14 when they host Tennessee Tech for the first of a three game series at Eddie Stanky Field. First pitch is set for 6:30pm.
South Alabama head football coach Joey Jones will have to fill the defensive coordinator position for the second consecutive season as first-year defensive coordinator Kevin Sherrer was hired away by the University of Georgia.
Sherrer, 40, joins newly hired Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt to coach on the defensive side of the ball. Sherrer coached the defensive backs at USA, but will likely coach either linebackers or defensive line at Georgia as Pruitt is expected to coach the secondary.
This is not a surprise to many as Sherrer and Pruitt have long had ties to each other. They both played at the University of Alabama, coached together at Hoover High School and both worked at Alabama in recent years.
This past season under Sherrer, the Jaguar defense ranked first in the Sun Belt in sacks (38), 2nd in scoring defense (25.2) and total defense (384.3) and tied for fourth in interceptions (11). The Jaguar defense ranked 50th in the nation in total defense, just five spots behind the Bulldogs.
This news comes just two weeks before National Signing Day, when high school players can sign their National Letter-of-Intents for the school of their choice.
Not necessarily related though, was the news that Shaquille Jones, a 6’2″ 165-pound defensive back from Palm Bay, FL., flipped his verbal commitment from South Alabama to the University of Louisville. He becomes the first verbal commitment to new UL head coach Bobby Petrino.
The secondary has been a position where the Jaguar coaching staff has focused a lot of their recruiting effort over the past year.
Other defensive commitments have reaffirmed their commitment to South Alabama via social media.
The timeline for the hire is a bit up in the air right now. With two weeks until National Signing Day, the staff will be focused on the recruiting trail. However, Jones would probably want to fill the position sooner rather than later and he has an advantage that just a year ago he was in the same position looking for a Defensive Coordinator. He probably has a few names already in mind from the last search along with new names from the last year.
One thing we know from experience is Coach Jones has hired great coaches each time there was an opening.
Former South Alabama defensive coordinator, who left the Jaguars after the 2012 season to take over the head coaching position at Jacksonville State University, has reportedly signed a contract to become University of Alabama at Birmingham’s new head football coach.
Clark also officially let Jacksonville State know on Tuesday that he was leaving, he met with the team at 6pm to announced to them that he was leaving and JSU then announced his resignation and quickly filled his position.
UAB has not officially announced Clark, but a press conference is scheduled for 3pm on Wednesday in the Green and Gold room at Bartow Arena that will be open to the public.
Garrick McGee resigned after two seasons at UAB to go to Louisville to serve as offensive coordinator under head coach Bobby Petrino, whom he also served the same position under at Arkansas prior to accepting the head coaching position at UAB.
Clark, 45, led JSU to an 11-4 record in his first season as the head coach and made it to the FCS quarterfinals. That set an Ohio Valley Conference record for wins and tied a school record for wins by a first year coach.
JSU also set 49 school records, 13 OVC records and three NCAA records during the season. They defeated Samford and McNeese State to earn their first-ever playoff wins at the Division I level.
Clark was the offensive coordinator for four seasons at South Alabama and the Jaguars finished second in the Sun Belt Conference in total defense in 2012, their first season playing in the conference and their first season as an FBS team.
South Alabama and UAB recently announced a home-and-home series between the two in-state schools. The first game will be in 2015 in Birmingham and the second game will be in Mobile.
Jacksonville State quickly announced that offensive coordinator John Grass will assume the head coaching position with the departure of Clark. He served as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator in 2013. Under his tutalidge, the Gamecocks offense set numerous school, conference and national records.
Grass graduated from JSU in 1990 and joined Clark’s staff after 17 years as a head coach at the high school level for over 17 years. His career record was 122-61.
Grass will be formally announced on Thursday.