SBC Holds Basketball Media Day

October 30, 2014 · By · Filed Under Basketball, Men's, Sun Belt Conference 

Jags_bballThe University of South Alabama held its annual basketball Media Day. It featured all 11 head coaches including USA head men’s basketball coach Matthew Graves. Here are some highlights from the event.

Graves’ opening statement
“I’m very excited about my second year in the Sun Belt. I’m looking forward to the improvements that we can make to our program, and excited to be competing in what looks to be another outstanding year in the Sun Belt.”

Graves spoke about where the team is going to turn this season after losing the team’s top three scorers from a year ago.
“We don’t know where we’re getting our scoring. That’s probably our biggest concern this year. You’re not going to replace an Augustine Rubit with one or two guys, it’s going to take a committee. Antoine Allen had his moments where he could score 20 points on a given night. To get that kind of consistent production, it’s going to be by committee. We’re still feeling that process out. We’re an extremely young, inexperienced basketball team, and it’s one I am very excited about and I think we have a bright future, but right now we’re still really trying to see what guys can do and how they’re going to fit together with all of the pieces that we have. That’s going to take place in the games, for us to get that under our belt and have a great feel.”

Graves talked about what he already knows about his team.
“Ken Williams has had a great offseason. I really look for him to be a key player for us this season, as he grows and develops into a role where night in and night out, he’s probably going to get one of the better defenders on him. He’s going to have to adjust and be able to handle that, but I’m really excited about his development. The thing I’m probably most excited about is we have a group of guys that are starting to understand and embrace what we’re trying to teach them as a coaching staff. There is a lot more buy-in from player No. 1 all the way through player No. 13 and the managers and staff. There’s a better vibe and more togetherness and that’s what I’m really excited about, because when you have that, you have a team that is capable of getting a lot better throughout the season and making things happen.”

Graves was asked about what newcomers have stook out to him.
“John Brown, our junior-college kid, has come in and done a nice job. Where he can help us is giving us some size on the wing. We really lacked that last year and he going to come in and play some minutes for us at that small forward spot. With his size and athleticism, that’s really going to help us, especially on the defensive end of the floor. Taishaun Johnson, a freshman point guard, has really shown bursts in practice of giving us a little more quickness on the perimeter and getting the ball into the paint. With his size at 5-foot-10 or 5-foot-11, and his quickness, it’s really added an extra element to our offense that we didn’t have last year. Out of the newcomers, those two have really stood out early. Tafari Whittingham is still coming back from off-season surgery, so we’re bringing him along slowly. He’s full-go at practice, but just watching him, you can tell with his conditioning that he’s still several weeks away.”

Graves was then asked about the starting point guard position.
“That’s Barrington’s (Stevens) position right now, and as I tell all the players, you have to earn your spot and your minutes, and once you do, you have to keep producing and keep that. If we were going to play today, Barrington would be our starting point guard. The nice thing about our roster is we do not have a lot of depth this year. Guys are going to have a lot of opportunities to play and contribute. We have 10 scholarship players, so we have five guys that I feel like are basically our 1s, 2s and 3s, and we’ve got five guys that primarily will play the 4 and the 5. Playing time should not be an issue. Guys will get opportunities, and what they do with those opportunities will ultimately determine how many minutes they play.”

Graves answered a question about his team and if they will play more up tempo this season.
“That’s one of the areas that we’ve put an emphasis on—trying to score and do a better job out of our transition offense. Last year, statistically we were one of the worst teams in the league in scoring out of transition opportunities. We’ve put a major emphasis on taking advantage when we have 3-on-2 or 4-on-3 opportunities in transition and looking to push the ball and play a little faster to help offset some of the scoring in the halfcourt.”

South Alabama hosts University of Mobile in an exhibition game on November 6 at the Mitchell Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:05pm.


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