The Southern men’s basketball team is on a three-game losing streak heading into a matchup with Northern Arizona in the second round of the Emerald Coast Classic this weekend, but coach Roman Banks is far from giving up hope on his team.
The Jaguars (1-4) have been outscored 209-145 during the stint, having never surpassed the 60-point mark during it, but it’s all about weathering the storm right now until they can get out of the early portion of their schedule.
“We all knew this would be tough, but we’re going to bounce back from it,” Banks said. “At this point last year, we probably had the same record, so I’m not getting impatient or anything with this ball club. I’m still patient, and I knew it would take a little time.”
Southern finished last November with a 2-5 record after starting the season with three consecutive losses.
This weekend will give Banks a different perspective on his program as it plays its first game on a neutral site after spending the past three games on the road.
The Jaguars and Lumberjacks (1-4) share several common opponents after the first few games of the Emerald Coast Classic, including losses to Middle Tennessee State and Ole Miss.
Northern Arizona fared slightly better in its meetings, dropping both contests 80-74 to Ole Miss and 65-53 to Middle Tennessee.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Banks said. “They have some guys who can step away from the basket and our big guys have to go out and guard.
“Rebounding has been a problem (for us), and they crash the boards pretty well. We have some work to do.”
Banks said the biggest problem thus far has been making the adjustment after several players left prematurely, especially the loss of would-be redshirt sophomore forward Damien Goodwin, who left for University of South Carolina Upstate after just one season with the Jaguars.
Goodwin only averaged a little more than 16 minutes and 4.1 points per game, but Banks said his departure and others set the team back in terms of player development.
“After what our program went through and losing those guys that I had expected to be there, I knew our program would be a little different, and it would be tough early on,” Banks said. “So my mind is always to win every ball game, but my mind is just trying to get this team playing better as it gets into December and January.”
Friday’s game will tip off at 1:30 p.m. on the campus of Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, Florida.
If the Jaguars win Friday’s game, they’ll play the winner of Eastern Illinois and North Carolina Central. If they lose, they’ll face off with the loser of that game.
Both games would be Saturday in Niceville.