Now that Southern has its full complement of players, men’s basketball coach Roman Banks has the most options he has had since the start of Southwestern Athletic Conference play.
With guard Trelun Banks and center D’Adrian Allen having returned from ankle injuries, the Jaguars expect to have everyone available for a conference game for the first time this season when they meet Alabama A&M at 6 p.m. Monday in the F.G. Clark Activity Center. The game will air on ESPNU.
Trelun Banks returned from a two-game absence to start, play 38 minutes and score a team-high 21 points in Saturday’s 73-69 home victory against Alabama State. Allen wasn’t as far along in his recuperation, but he still managed to come off the bench and contribute three points and two rebounds in 12 minutes.
Coach Banks used 10 players in the game, more than he had used in any of the previous SWAC games for Southern (13-7, 5-2).
“I don’t use the term ‘bench.’ I consider them role guys,” Banks said. “I have several guys who could start the ballgame, but my philosophy is I want to get some intensity off the bench on both offense and defense.”
Even while shorthanded, the Jaguars were getting sufficient play from the role guys. The team has won five in a row after losing its first two league games.
Forward Jared Sam said Southern has been “on a mission” since the slow start.
“We didn’t like being 0-2,” said Sam, who can play more of his minutes at his customary power forward position with the return of Allen. “We knew we had to regroup and get better. We’re having a good stretch of basketball.”
Southern has won all three of its home games in league play, defeating Grambling and Jackson State before Alabama State. Alabama A&M is 2-4 in SWAC play and 6-9 overall after a 63-58 loss at Alcorn State on Saturday.
“We’re getting better each and every day, putting wins on top of wins,” Trelun Banks said. “We’ve got to keep getting better in practice.”
Having the full complement of players is also helpful in practice.
Coach Banks called Bulldogs senior guard Ladarius Tabb “probably the most electrifying player in this league.” Tabb is the SWAC’s leading scorer (21 points per game); he had just 13 against Alcorn, though he grabbed seven rebounds.
A&M will test Southern’s depth: The Bulldogs have 10 players averaging at least 10 minutes per game.
“I’ve told our role players they have to be very well-prepared for this game,” coach Banks said. “They’re going to be very important in this game. They’ll have to be ready to go in a little earlier.”
These teams met three times last season, and the Jaguars won each time: 72-63 at home, 65-58 in Huntsville, Alabama, and 64-60 in the first round of the SWAC tournament in Houston.