If it seems like the Southern women’s basketball team hasn’t played in quite a while, there’s a reason for that: The Jaguars haven’t played in quite a while.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, they face Louisiana-Lafayette in Earl K. Long Gym, ending a 13-day break.
Of course, it was a break in name only. If you have to ask, the Southern hasn’t exactly spent all its downtime in front of a TV. There’s been quite a bit of practice involved.
As the Jaguars (1-2) square off against the Ragin’ Cajuns (2-4), they’ll be looking for, among other things, signs of improvement.
SU coach Sandy Pugh said she and her assistants have spent much of the past two weeks imparting more knowledge and understanding into the minds of their young players — six of whom are newcomers.
“We’ve been playing too much one-on-one basketball, taking too many jump shots,” Pugh said Friday. “We need to do a better job of getting it to the front of the rim. We need to be much more disciplined in our halfcourt offense.”
Southern is coming off back-to-back losses against South Alabama and Lamar — and although both games happened a long time ago, they both gave fans a glimpse of the kind of potential SU has.
Although mostly young and untested at the college level, the Jaguars impressed their opponents.
Unprovoked, South Alabama coach Rick Pietri and Lamar coach Larry Tidwell both said they won’t be surprised if Southern wins the Southwestern Athletic Conference title again this season.
As for Saturday’s game, Southern does have something of a surprise in store. It plans to drop two freshmen into the starting lineup: guard Kendra Coleman and forward Jasmine Jefferson.
Coleman, of course, is the former two-time Class 2A all-state selection who averaged 21.3 points per game as a senior at Donaldsonville High.
Jefferson, a Miami native, has averaged 3.3 points and 3.0 rebounds in 15.7 minutes. Pugh said Jefferson has made strides in practice recently, adding that the freshman reminds her of former SU standout Angela Bullock.
“She’s really been coming on,” Pugh said. “She hasn’t played much basketball ... but she is a great athlete. We want to get her as many minutes as we can.”
The Ragin’ Cajuns are coming off a four-game road trip that was both costly and productive.
The costly part: ULL lost its leading rebounder and second-leading scorer, Mercedes Johnson, to a concussion during a 103-44 wipeout at San Diego on Nov. 25.
The productive part: ULL earned a split by winning at UC-Riverside and Southeastern Louisiana — the latter coming on Tuesday, when the Cajuns prevailed 69-57 without Johnson in the lineup.
“I told (the players), ‘You can win without Mercedes Johnson. And when she comes back, if you do what you did with her, we can be a very, very good team,’ ” ULL coach Errol Rogers said.
“She won’t be back for the Southern game. Hopefully, we’ll have her for that long road trip in two weeks.”
ULL hosts Southeastern on Dec. 11, followed by a three-game road trip.