LOCATION: Baton Rouge, LA
CONFERENCE: Southwestern Athletic (SWAC)
LAST SEASON: 21-7 (.750)
CONFERENCE RECORD: 13-3 (2nd)
STARTERS LOST/RETURNING: 2/3
COLORS: Columbia Blue & Gold
HOMECOURT: F.G. Clark Activity Center (7,500)
COACH: Tommy Green (Southern '78)
record at school 45-37 (3 years)
career record 45-37 (3 years)
ASSISTANTS: Roman Banks (Northwestern State '92)|
TEAM WINS: (last 5 years) 13-18-10-14-21
RPI (last 5 years) 286-201-299-280-150
1998-99 FINISH: Lost in conference final.
Southern's run toward the Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament title and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament came up one victory short. Alcorn State ended the Jaguars' season in the SWAC Tournament, holding off Southern for an 89-83 victory in the title game. Southern lost five players from that team, including starters Dionte Harvey and Aaron Bates, who combined for more than 32 points per game. Harvey and Bates were also among the league leaders in steals, three-point field-goal percentage and free-throw percentage. With three starters back, including 6-7 senior center Adarrial Smylie (19.0 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 16 assists, 28 steals, 44 blocked shots), the league's player of the year last season, coach Tommy Green's team will likely be in the thick of things once again. "I'm very pleased with the nucleus of our team," said Green, entering his fourth season. "That's a great foundation to work with." Smylie, a 6-7 senior, was the league's second leading scorer, leading rebounder and leading field-goal shooter (.563). He was also fourth in blocked shots (1.63 bpg) and ninth in free-throw shooting (.732). Forward Greg Martin (7.9 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 30 assists, 15 blocked shots, 31 steals), a 6-7 junior, was the league's third-leading rebounder and eighth-leading shooter, making 49 percent of his shots (89-of-181).
Point guard Devan Clark (8.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 192 assists, 70 steals), a 6-0 junior, led the league in assists (6.86 apg), was fourth in the league in steals (2.5 spg) and was the conference's eighth-leading free-throw shooter (.741). While Green has the nucleus to compete for the league title, the Jaguars' chances rest in the hands of a talented group of newcomers. "We have recruited some people to fit the puzzle," Green said. Brian Webb, a 6-6 junior, and 6-5 freshman Brian Johnson will vye for Bates' old job at small forward, while Tye Hammond , a 6-3 junior, and 6-1 junior L.B. Abney will compete for Harvey's old job at shooting guard. A year ago, Webb averaged 16.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists for Southwest Mississippi Community College. Johnson averaged 18.0 points and 9.0 rebounds for Iowa (La.) High. Hammond played for Bakersfield (Calif.) College as a sophomore and averaged 18.6 points and 4.4 rebounds. He led his team with 64 three-pointers. Abney played for Pensacola (Fla.) Junior College last season. Freshman Victor Tarver will provide depth at point guard. Shannon Bennett, a transfer from McClendon (Texas) Junior College who can play center or forward at 6-7, will compete for playing time inside. The 5-9 Tarver was chosen Louisiana's Division 1A Most Valuable Player after averaging 24.3 points and 6.0 assists. He could be the real find of Southern's recruiting class. Louisville, Rutgers and Georgia all recruited him. "We were real happy with the acquisition of Victor," Green said. "He will be a definite asset to our team, and we look forward to helping him mature as a basketball player." Green decided to go the junior-college route to get some instant experience. "We're two-deep at every position," Green said. "We're deeper than we were last year. We have four or five guys that will play two positions. I went JUCO this year to take up some of the slack when teams double-team Smylie." With Harvey and Bates, opposing teams had trouble doing that last season. A year ago, the Jaguars led the league in scoring (84.1 ppg.), were second in scoring margin (plus-7.1 ppg.), first in field-goal percentage (.454), second in free-throw percentages (.685) and first in three-point field-goal percentage (.333). Southern was sixth in scoring defense (77.0 ppg.), sixth in field-goal defense (.436), fourth in rebounding margin (plus-1.6) and fourth in three-pointers per game (5.07).
Blue Ribbon Analysis
BACKCOURT B BENCH/DEPTH C|
FRONTCOURT B INTANGIBLES B
Coach Tommy Green said this year's team is his most versatile one yet. Adarrial Smylie's return is huge, and if Greg Martin can come on, the Jaguars will be hard to handle in the paint. Still, the loss of Harvey and Bates particularly their points could be hard to replace. But if the newcomers most notably freshman point guard Victor Tarver and junior-college transfers Tye Hammond and L.B. Abney can step in and provide instant help in the backcourt, the Jaguars will again be one of the league's most dangerous teams.
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