In the past two road games, effort wasn’t a problem. By and large, first-year coach Roman Banks liked what he saw from the Southern men’s basketball team, but the Jaguars were outclassed in two losses last week at Texas A&M and Rice.
Their long nonconference road journey continues this week.
And it doesn’t ease up.
At 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, the Jaguars (1-2) square off against Providence (3-0), a program with 30 victories over the past two-plus seasons.
No, the Friars aren’t favored to win the Big East.
But they are a Big East program, and those 30 wins are far more than the 10 victories Southern has posted over that time.
In other words, barring an SU miracle, this will be another teaching-and-learning moment for Banks and his players.
“My wisdom tells me that it is going to take some time. But we will get there,” Banks said. “It is a learning process for these guys. If we can learn from this, we will be better.”
Tuesday’s game is the Jaguars’ second game in the South Padre Island Tournament. The first two rounds of the event happen at home sites. After that, all eight participants head down to the Texas Coast, each of them playing Friday and Saturday.
Southern is coming off an 80-65 loss against Rice on Thursday.
The Jaguars shot 44 percent from the floor and trailed by only seven points at halftime, but they were overmatched near the goal.
Rice blocked five shots and had a 45-28 advantage in rebounds.
It was the second straight loss for Southern, which fell into an early hole at Texas A&M in an 83-58 loss on Nov. 13.
“It’s tough to lose,” guard Derick Beltran said. “But I like the system coach has put in, and I think we will be all right in the long run.”
So far, opponents have owned a 117-81 rebounding advantage over the Jaguars, who have only two players who stand 6-foot-8 or taller.
“Offensive rebounds are going to be a problem for us all year,” Banks said.
“But we can’t use that as an excuse.”
The Friars, in their first season under coach Ed Cooley, have opened this season with a three-win streak, though they didn’t come easily. Providence won by fewer then 10 points against Fairleigh Dickinson and Fairfield before cruising to an 87-65 win over Florida A&M on Saturday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
The Friars have won 16 of their past 21 home games.
Southern, naturally, would like to win a few road games before Southwestern Athletic Conference play begins. Even if this road trip isn’t easy.
“We’ve improved from last year,” forward Quinton Doggett said. “(The road swing) is going to help us and get us ready for the SWAC.”