While most state men’s basketball teams open practice Friday, the Southern men have opted to begin practice a day later. At 6 p.m. Saturday at the F.G. Clark Activity Center, they’ll crank up their first preseason under first-year coach Roman Banks.

A former SU assistant to Tommy Green and Ben Jobe, Banks inherits a program in need of a massive makeover.

Southern went 17-74 in its final three years under Rob Spivery, and the NCAA hit the team with a one-year postseason ban because of an incredibly low APR score (852).

Banks has welcomed seven newcomers into the program, including Javan Mitchell, a 6-foot-8 transfer from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The Jaguars’ season begins Nov. 11 with a home game against Dillard. After that, the Jaguars play 11 straight games on the road.


MIDNIGHT MADNESS: In Lafayette, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette men and women’s basketball teams are set for Midnight Madness activities Friday.

The event gets under way at 10:30 p.m. in the Earl K. Long Gym on the main campus.

A 3-point shootout contest involving two players from each team, plus two from the audience is scheduled.

The event will conclude with 10-minute scrimmages by both the women and men’s teams.

Southeastern Louisiana

LIONS OPEN PRACTICE: In Hammond, Southeastern Louisiana coach Jim Yarbrough begins his seventh year at the Lions helm when the team begins practice Friday.

Yarbrough, who has a 96-82 record in six years with SLU, has six lettermen and two starters returning from his 2010-11 team that was 15-14 overall. The Lions were 9-7 in the Southland Conference, finishing third in the East Division with a 9-7 mark.

New Orleans

UNO NAMES ASSISTANTS: University of New Orleans basketball coach Mark Slessinger has added Kris Arkenberg and Kerwin Forges as assistant coaches.

Arkenberg was an assistant at Panola College in Texas last season. He also worked as an assistant at Lincoln Trail College and as a student assistant at IUPUI.

Forges played at Northwestern State under Slessinger, and has spent five seasons on the staff at St. Mary’s High School in Natchitoches.

Both will work in recruiting and scouting. Arkenberg also will work in guard development, strength and conditioning, academics and video. Forges also will work in post development, academic monitoring and team travel.