Southern men’s basketball coach Roman Banks is having to be patient.
As the non-conference games dwindle and the Southwestern Athletic Conference season creeps closer, he’s trying to finalize players’ roles and get ready to hit the ground running come January.
The Jaguars ended a five-game losing streak — all of which took place on the road — when they beat Dillard 68-55 last Friday in the F.G. Clark Activity Center. But now it’s back to the road to play Minnesota at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The Jaguars are 2-6 and the Gophers are 7-2.
“At times we have played well,” Banks said. “The part that has been somewhat frustrating is not being consistent. We might play well for about 80 percent of the game, but we can’t maintain that consistency.”
Most of Southern’s experience is in the backcourt so Banks has been starting three guards. He has used four different pairings in the front court in eight games. He went with Frank Snow and Joell Hopkins the first two games, substituted Keith Davis for Hopkins for one game, then started Davis and Hopkins for four consecutive games.
He tried a different combination against Dillard, putting Snow back in at center and pairing him with freshman Jared Sam of Scotlandville. Sam responded with 10 points, making all four field-goal attempts, and four rebounds in 25 minutes. Hopkins chipped in 12 points off the bench.
“I’ve got to be careful not to push some of the new guys too hard too soon,” Banks said. “I want them to be at a certain point already and that might not be realistic. So we just have to be patient and keep working to be more consistent.”
Guard Tre Lynch, who has played in three games since returning from an ankle injury, led the way against the Bleu Devils with 24 points off the bench. After the game, Banks hinted that Lynch’s offense may be too valuable to keep out of the starting lineup.
Christopher Hyder and Trelun Banks have started all eight games. Adrian Rodgers started the first four games, then Cameron Monroe started three and Rodgers returned to the lineup against Dillard.
Minnesota, which won a school-record 25 games and the National Invitation Tournament title in coach Richard Pitino’s first year last season, is coming off a 92-56 victory against North Dakota at home Monday.
Follow Les East on Twitter @EastAdvocate.