Southern falls to Alabama State 63-59 in OT _lowres

Advocate file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Southern men's basketball coach Roman Banks

Southern doesn’t begin preseason basketball practice until Saturday afternoon, but coach Roman Banks has already seen a difference in this year’s team.

“I see a new energy with this team in their individual workouts and in the weight room,” Banks said, “probably because they feel like they have something to play for.”

What the Jaguars have to play for this season is a berth in the NCAA tournament. Southern was ineligible for the postseason the past two years because of NCAA sanctions stemming from the university’s submission of unusable data for Academic Progress Rates.

The NCAA lifted the ban in May, meaning the Jaguars can go to the NCAA tournament if they win the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament. They lost in the title game of last year’s tournament and won the regular-season title two years ago.

Banks also has been uplifted by the lifting of the ban.

“I feel pretty good going into this basketball season,” Banks said. “I guess the reason that I feel pretty good and pretty energized about it is because we know we haven’t had a chance to go into postseason play for a couple of years.”

This year’s team has three returning starters at guard: Christopher Hyder, Adrian Rodgers and Trelun Banks. Coach Banks said he expects “to play a little faster” because of their presence.

Southern, which finished 18-17 and 13-5 in the SWAC last season, also returns starting forward Jared Sam and two others who played last season: guard Chris Thomas and forward Thomas Pierre-Louis. The Jaguars have 10 newcomers.

Women start practice Tuesday

The women’s basketball team begins preseason practice Tuesday, and like the men that team is eligible for the postseason for the first time in three years.

The Jaguars, 19-12 overall and 15-3 in the SWAC, also lost in the SWAC tournament title game last season. Like the men, they won the regular-season title two years ago.

Southern returns six players from last year’s team: guards Britney Washington, Cortnei Purnell and Ashley Williams; forward Briana Green. and post players Kenidi Robinson and Jadea Brundidge. The Jaguars have 10 newcomers.

Ex-Jaguars pitcher in MLB

Former Southern right-hander Cody Hall has gotten a taste of the Major Leagues with the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

Hall, a 19th-round draft choice in 2011, was called up from Triple-A Sacramento when the major-league rosters expanded to 40 on Sept. 1. Going into the final weekend of the season he was 0-0 with a 4.26 earned run average.

He made his major-league debut Sept. 3 and has made a total of five relief appearances, walking three and striking out four in eight innings.

On the road again

After this weekend’s open date, the Southern football team will be on the road again next week and so will Jaguar Nation.

The Southern University 6th Man Club, the Strong United Unification Organization and the Southern University Club are staging bus trips to the game at Alabama State on Oct. 10 as well as remaining road games at Texas Southern (Oct. 24), at Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Nov. 7) and against Grambling in New Orleans (Nov. 28).

For information on the 6th Man Club trips, contact Gail Ray (225-356-5252), Anna Jones (225-387-1982; 225-907-7212; amjones9@cox.net), Freddie Green Sr. (225-388-9403; 225-421-6637) or Elijah Wilkinson Jr. (225-355-9249).

For information on the SUUO trips call (225) 355-6886, (225) 357-3833 or (225) 774-7617 and for the QB Club trips contact Jonathan Dearbone (225-572-5878, jdearbone@yahoo.com or Reginald Jarvis (225-939-5906, rjarvis79@yahoo.com).

Volleyball tourney back

The SWAC volleyball tournament will be held at Southern for the third consecutive year.

The tournament will take place Nov. 20-22 at the Clifford Seymour Gym.