Southern men’s basketball coach Roman Banks said the early part of the Jaguars schedule presents the team with a variety of challenges.
The Jaguars opened with two home games, losing to Louisiana Tech (85-76) in the season opener Friday and beating LSU-Alexandria (76-65) on Monday.
The first game came against a well-regarded mid-major program that has won two consecutive conference championships.
The second came against an NAIA program, but one that featured several transfers from Division I schools and lots of local players Banks said he knew would play with pride and energy for 40 minutes.
Now comes the third and biggest challenge: the first road test at Ole Miss at 7 p.m. Thursday in Oxford, Mississippi. The game marks the Jaguars debut on the SEC Network Plus.
“I think we’re being put in all types of situations,” Banks said. “Now it’s the challenge of the road. We’ll learn a lot. It will be interesting to see what we do as we go on the road to play a (Southeastern Conference) team and how we represent ourselves.”
The Rebels never trailed in winning their season opener at Troy 74-64.
Banks said he plans to “shorten up” his rotation for this game after substituting liberally to evaluate his team, which features 10 newcomers.
“This isn’t a game where you want to fight an uphill battle,” he said. “It’s not a game to put people in and try to win through several mistakes. We’ll probably go more with our primary guys for more minutes to try and win a ballgame.”
Banks said he’s going to continue to throw the ball inside to Frank Snow and Keith Davis as he tries to establish a scoring presence in the lane. Snow played sparingly last season, and Davis sat out after transferring from Texas A&M.
Though neither has much experience playing in college, at least one of them needs to emerge as an offensive threat.
“We have to have somebody inside to throw it in to and take some pressure off and draw some attention away from the guards,” Banks said. “After a while, teams start extending and challenging our perimeter shots.”
Banks said he thought the Jaguars “played to the level” of the Generals and got outworked at times.
Although Southern held LSU-Alexandria to 34.4 percent shooting, it allowed the Generals to improve from 28 percent in the first half to 38.9 percent in the second half when they were 6-of-13 on 3-pointers (46.2 percent).
“We definitely didn’t get stops like we usually do,” guard Trelun Banks said. “We’ll be looking to improve that, and we need to control the glass.”
Southern was outrebounded 39-35.
“Our philosophy is always to get better on defense,” guard Adrian Rodgers said. “We’ve got to shut people down on this road trip we’ve got coming up.”
This is the first of five consecutive road games for Southern.
Follow Les East on Twitter @EastAdvocate.