The first-game jitters should be gone by now.
Roman Banks and his Southern men’s basketball team took care of that Friday with a season-opening win at home against Dillard.
The road-game jitters should be gone by now.
Sure, the Jaguars might have lost at Texas A&M by 25 points, but they were outclassed, and they didn’t give up.
The emotional roller coaster should be over now.
Oh, Southern will undoubtedly go through the peak-and-valley routine many times between now and March, but it’s possible that nothing matches how Banks felt when he saw A&M coach Billy Kennedy on the sideline Sunday.
At 7 p.m. Thursday, when the Jaguars (1-1) face Rice at Tudor Fieldhouse in Houston, their minds should be centered on nothing more than basketball.
Of course, it’s always supposed to be like that.
But you had to forgive Banks for getting a little emotional lately.
That Dillard game was his first as a Division I head coach. That Texas A&M game was a gut-wrencher - even before the opening tip.
Banks, an assistant to Kennedy at Southeastern Louisiana, said he was nearly overcome with emotion when he saw the A&M coach back on the bench for the first time since Kennedy announced he has Parkinson’s disease.
“He’s been more than a boss, but a friend,” Banks said. “To see him be able to bounce back from what he’s going through. That was very emotional for a minute.”
That minute is over.
Now, in the second of 11 straight road games, the Jaguars have plenty to figure out.
First, Banks would like to see some consistency.
“A couple of guys that played well against Dillard didn’t really show up against Texas A&M. And then we had a couple of guys who played hard against A&M weren’t really there for us against Dillard,” Banks said. “We need to be consistent when we step up on the floor ... because that’s what makes a good team. When people know their roles, that’s when you have a good team.”
Banks said he’ll use the same starting lineup that faced A&M on Sunday, but he’s hoping to see players settle into their roles a little more.
Jameel Grace is entrenched as the starting point guard; the junior had six assists and one turnover in the Texas A&M loss.
But other roles aren’t quite as clear.
Shooting guard Derick Beltran, who scored only seven points in the season opener, had 19 against the Aggies
In fact, he was the only scorer in double digits for Southern.
Also, for the second straight game, the Jaguars will go up against a much taller frontcourt.
Often, 6-foot-8 forward Quinton Doggett is SU’s tallest player on the floor.
Aside from Doggett and 6-9 reserve center Madut Bol, the team doesn’t have much size around the goal.
Rice, by contrast, has eight players who stand 6-6 or taller.
And, of course, the Owls will have home-court advantage.
Though it underwent a massive renovation in 2007-08, Tudor Fieldhouse - formerly named Autry Court - is still a unique place for basketball, with an old-fashioned feel that includes tight spaces between the baselines and arena walls. It seats 5,280 people and sometimes requires an adjustment period for visitors.
Fourth-year coach Ben Braun praised Rice students for showing up to the season opener. They made up a large portion of the 1,719??fans who watched an 83-49 win over the University of New Orleans at Tudor Fieldhouse on Saturday.
“That was a great turnout,” Braun said. “It’s something we don’t take for granted or assume is going to happen.”
Banks’ team planned to hold a walkthrough at Tudor Fieldhouse before Friday’s game - and naturally, he said, the Jaguars won’t use the environment as an excuse.
In fact, Banks said, they can’t afford to use anything as an excuse.
“What I don’t want to do is go in thinking we’ve lost already,” he said. “A lot of teams, you’ll have a team come off the bus as (an) underdog, fall behind by 10 or 12 points early and just give up. We can’t afford to think that way. ... We may not win, but we’re going to play hard.”
Southern At Rice
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday.
WHERE: Tudor Fieldhouse,
RADIO: None. TV: None.
RECORDS: Southern 1-1, Rice 1-0.
LAST MEETING/SERIES: Rice 73, Southern 50, Dec. 20, 1998.
Rice leads 6-1.
UP NEXT: Southern at Providence, Tuesday.
G Jameel Grace 6-0 Jr.
G Mike Celestin 6-0 So.
G Derick Beltran 6-4 Jr.
F Quinton Doggett 6-8 Sr.
F Fredrick Coleman 6-6 Sr.
G Cameron Monroe 6-2 Fr.
G Russell Hill 6-3 So.
C Madut Bol 6-9 Jr.
G Connor Frizzelle 6-1 Sr.
G Tamir Jackson 6-3 Jr.
F Jarelle Reischel 6-6 Fr.
F Arsalan Kazemi 6-7 Jr.
F Lucas Kuipers 6-8 Sr.
G Julian DeBose 6-4 Fr.
G Dylan Ennis 6-2 Fr.
F Ahmad Ibrahim 6-6 Fr.