Alabama State rallies to beat Southern men in final second _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Southern University Jaguars head coach Roman Banks speaks with his players during a timeout against Alabama State, Monday, Feb. 23, 2015, at Southern's F.G. Clark Activity Center in Baton Rouge, La.

Southern basketball coach Roman Banks has his backcourt figured out.

“There’s no doubt that everybody knows about the trio of Christopher Hyder, Trelun Banks and Adrian Rodgers,” Banks said during the Southwestern Athletic Conference coaches preseason teleconference Wednesday. “They did a lot for us last year, and they’ll continue to do a lot for us.

“But we’ve got a lot of new faces, and we’ve got to figure out the other pieces.”

The SWAC head coaches and sports information directors picked Rodgers on the preseason All-SWAC first team and placed Trelun Banks on the second team.

Coach Banks said sophomore forward Jared Sam, who joined Trelun Banks on a tour team that played in Europe during the summer, is one of the other pieces.

“That was a great experience for those guys,” Banks said of the trip to Europe. “We’ve got to find three or four more guys who can consistently play the style we like to play.”

The pollsters seem to think the Jaguars will find what they need, picking Southern second in the preseason poll. They picked defending champion Texas Southern (22-13, 16-2), which beat the Jaguars in the SWAC tournament championship game 62-58 last season, to finish first.

Coach Banks said two of the remaining pieces could be sophomore guard Chris Thomas and junior forward Patrick Smith.

Thomas, who played at Glen Oaks, averaged just 7.0 minutes in 21 games last season.

“He’s making the transition from playing inside to the perimeter,” Banks said. “He’s got a lot of energy and he’s very talented and he’s learning. He’s got good instincts and we’re hoping he can come in and have an instant impact.”

Smith is from Rayville and transferred from Southern-Shreveport.

“He’s 6-foot-7 and kind of long and rangy,” Banks said. “We’re hoping he can pick it up and come in and inherit some major minutes at power forward.”

Banks said he took a different approach to summer workouts this year, limiting on-campus work to mostly strength and conditioning as well as individual shooting. He allowed the players and the coaching staff to get away while classes were out.

He said it was important for players and coaches to “step back, take a deep breath and get refocused” after spending the last two seasons operating under an NCAA postseason ban, which has since been lifted.

Banks said everyone returned with “a renewed spirit.”

Alabama A&M senior guard Ladarius Tabb was named the SWAC Preseason Player of the Year and Texas Southern senior center David Blanks was selected as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

The SWAC released its television schedule for this season. Southern’s home games against Alabama A&M on Jan. 25 and Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Feb. 15 will be televised by ESPNU.

The men’s championship game from the SWAC tournament in Houston will be televised live on ESPN at 5:30 p.m. on March 12.