Southern men’s basketball: Top five storylines _lowres

Advocate staff photo by APRIL BUFFINGTON -- Southern's Jared Sam gets around Prairie View's Reggis Onwukamuche to the basket during Saturday's game held at F.G. Clark Activity Center on January 3.

1: It starts with the three-man backcourt, again

The Jaguars return three starters to their backcourt in seniors Christopher Hyder and Adrian Rodgers and junior Trelun Banks. Rodgers can also play in the frontcourt when Southern goes to a smaller lineup, particularly in conference play, and the trio will set the tone as it did last year, along with then-senior Tre Lynch. Hyder will orchestrate the offense and the defense, Rodgers provides long-distance shooting, and Banks can score from the inside and the outside.

2: Jarred Sam will play more at center

The sophomore from Scotlandville emerged as a dependable starter last season, playing primarily at power forward while seniors Keith Davis and Frank Snow handled the lion’s share of minutes at center. Sam will start at power forward again but play more minutes at center when the Jaguars go to the bench. Coach Roman Banks said he expects Sam to average eight or so points and average double-figure rebounds as a key frontcourt piece.

3: There’s more depth, especially in the frontcourt

Coach Banks was reluctant to go more than eight deep in his rotation last season. After the aforementioned Sam, Davis and Snow, there wasn’t much dependability inside. With Sam returning and a host of newcomers with potential inside, Southern expects to have more big men it can count on. What the Jaguars lose in size with the departure of the 6-foot-10 Davis and Snow, it makes up for with increased athleticism.

4: There will be a faster pace

The Jaguars’ skill and depth in the backcourt and its improved athleticism in the frontcourt have coach Banks planning to push the ball up the court more. Banks likes a fast pace, especially with Hyder, who had the SWAC’s best assist-turnover ratio last season, running the show. Last year’s team would push the pace when it saw an opportunity, but this year’s team will be more aggressive and consistent in pushing it to create more opportunities.

5: Can the defense still be elite?

The Jaguars have perennially been one of the best defensive teams in the SWAC under coach Banks, and remaining so is a top priority. Last season, they were the best in the conference in scoring defense, field-goal defense and 3-point defense. A big part of the defense was the fact that Snow was third and Davis was fifth in blocked shots. This team won’t have that luxury but should again play top-notch defense

— Les East

ROSTER

No., Name, Pos, Ht., Wt., Cl, Hometown

0, Christopher Hyder, G, 5-11, 170, Sr., Dallas

1, Londell King, F, 6-7, 185, Fr., Tallahassee, Fla.

2, Adrian Rodgers, G, 6-4, 205, Sr., Atlanta

3, Trelun Banks, G, 6-1, 170, Jr., Shreveport

4, Chris Thomas, G, 6-4, 190, So., Baton Rouge

5, Brendon Ganaway, G, 5-10, 160, Fr., Houston

10, Shawn Prudhomme, F, 6-4, 215, Jr., Beaumont, Texas

11, Rashad Andrews , G, 6-5, 190, So., Brooklyn, N.Y.

12, Jarred Sam, F, 6-9, 210, So., Baton Rouge

13, Grant Ellis, G, 6-4, 170, Jr., Newark, N.J.

20, Thomas Pierre-Louis, F, 6-9, 210, Sr., Miami

21, Patrick Smith, F, 6-7, 195, Jr., Farmerville

23, LaQuentin Collins, G, 6-2, 170, So., Monroe

30, DeRias Johnson, G, 6-4, 170, Fr., Dallas

32, D’Arian Allen, F, 6-8, 225, Jr., Toronto

50, Tony Nunn, F, 6-9, 220, Jr., Salisbury, N.C.

Coach: Roman Banks (77-54 entering fifth season at Southern and overall)

2014-15 record: 18-17, 13-5 SWAC (third); Postseason: None

SCHEDULE

November

13, at Arkansas, 7 p.m.

16, at Mississippi State, 7 p.m.

19, Tulane, 7 p.m.

24, Dillard, 7 p.m.

30, Paul Quinn, 7 p.m.

December

4, at Southeastern Louisiana, 7 p.m.

8, at Grand Canyon, 7 p.m.

10, at Wyoming, 8 p.m.

13, Ecclesia College, 3 p.m.

15, at Memphis, 7 p.m.

18, at Louisiana Tech, 6:30 p.m.

Global sports classic/Las Vegas

21, North Carolina Central, TBA

22, Eastern Ill. Or Neb.-Omaha, TBA

January

2, at Texas Southern*, 7:30 p.m.

4, at Prairie View*, 7:30 p.m.

9, Grambling* , 5 p.m.

11, Jackson State*, 8 p.m.

16, at Arkansas-Pine Bluff*, 7:30 p.m.

18, at Mississippi Valley St.*, 7:30 p.m.

23, Alabama State*, 5 p.m.

25, Alabama A&M*, 8 p.m.

30, Alcorn State*, 5 p.m.

February

6, at Grambling*, TBA

8, at Jackson State*, 7:30 p.m.

13, Arkansas-Pine Bluff*, 5:30 p.m.

15, Mississippi Valley St.*, 5 p.m.

20, at Alabama State*, TBA

22, at Alabama A&M*, TBA

27, at Alcorn State*, TBA

March

3, Texas Southern*, TBA

5, Prairie View*, TBA

SWAC tournament

8-12, in Houston

* — Southwestern Athletic Conference games