Shortly after the Southern men’s basketball team lost its season opener to Louisiana Tech on Friday night, coach Roman Banks already was looking forward to practice.
The Jaguars’ 85-76 loss in the F.G. Clark Activity Center to a team that won 29 games last season offered some encouraging signs to Banks.
“We competed well, and I think we found out a lot about our basketball team that we can grow from,” Banks said. “I really look forward to (practice) and getting this team better. I’m not happy about our loss, but I’m satisfied with what I’ve seen and seeing how I can help grow this basketball team.”
Banks hopes to see some growth when the Jaguars host LSU-Alexandria at 7 p.m. Monday.
A good starting point would be on the defensive glass. Even though Southern outrebounded the Bulldogs 44-40, they were outscored in second-chance points 18-13, most significantly 15-7 in the second half.
The Jaguars led midway through the second half but had trouble getting stops as Tech finished on a 28-17 run.
“I’d like to get more stops,” Banks said. “I thought we stopped them, but we didn’t finish the possession. They got the rebound or it hit our hands, went out of bounds, and they got it back. We need to finish those possessions.”
If Southern can finish those possessions defensively, it can start transition possessions, which will be a key to this team’s success. Nearly all of the Jaguars’ experience and much of its athleticism is in the backcourt, but they had just four fast-break points Friday.
“We definitely have to rebound the ball,” guard Cameron Monroe said. “That’s where our offense begins, at rebounding the ball, keeping the other team to one attempt at the basket each possession.”
Another area in which Southern hopes to do better is “playing defense without fouling,” guard Christopher Hyder said.
The Jaguars committed nine more fouls than the Bulldogs, enabling Tech to shoot 10 more free throws. The Bulldogs made just 25-of-40, but Southern couldn’t take advantage because it made just 17-of-30.
“It’s just a matter of concentration at the free-throw line,” Hyder said. “Just go up there and take your time and focus.”
LSU-Alexandria won its first game under first-year coach Larry Cordaro when it beat Dillard 83-55 on Thursday. The Generals lost to Lamar 78-75 on Sunday.
Coradro was part of the staff at LSU from 2001-03, and one of his assistants, Casey Apetrei, was a graduate assistant at Southern from 2011-13.
LSU-Alexandria has three players from Baton Rouge — junior guard Darius Johnson, sophomore swingman Darryl Milburn and freshman guard Jordin Williams — and two players from Slidell: junior forward Austin Adams and junior center Dustin Adams.