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SWAC Notebook

December 11, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments



Southwestern Conference Notebook

by Nik Bannister

No “SWAC”tacular starts in the SWAC

Parity describes the play of the Southwestern Athletic Conference in their first week of the 2002-2003 season. Texas Southern has the best start in the conference going for par with two wins and two losses as Prairie View follows close behind with one win and two losses. But it is head coach Ben Jobe’s Southern Jaguars that seem to have become the true surprise in the SWAC.

The Jags finished ninth in the SWAC last season and even though they are a mediocre 1-2, the season can only get better. Despite the loss of sophomore and 2002 SWAC Newcomer of the Year Nick Egland (Achilles injury), the Johnson & Johnson combination (senior forwards Brian and Tim) provide a combined average 33 ppg. and 10 rebounds to keep the Jags afloat and buoyant as they chart their course for Birmingham in March.

The Bad News First
The 0-5 record of Arkansas Pine-Bluff would be enough to make a grown man cry. Although former assistant coach Van Holt is in charge, he still has a courtside seat to the Golden Lions pitfall of pathetic playing. Coaching a team that has lost to teams by no less than 24 (Memphis), and by as much as 53 (Illinois), Holt is in for a long season.

Mississippi Valley State is not far behind. Their 0-4 start places them next to last in the SWAC this week, but the good thing is that there is nowhere to go but up.

The So-so News
Alabama State, Jackson State, Alcorn State, Grambling State, Alabama A&M all have one win apiece. They all also have more than two losses apiece.

Grambling State’s sophomore forward Paul Haynes put up 29 points in their 102-80 win over Wiley College, but is not putting up enough to have the Tigers at .500 as of yet.

The Good – or the Best It’s Going To Get
Texas Southern’s junior guard Ra’kim Hollis is starting off where he left last season. After three games, Hollis leads the SWAC in points per game (23.0) and leads his team in rebounding (7.0). Also, there is a senior guard by the name of Marquel Timmons who is second in the SWAC in assists, averaging 4.2 per game. Although they have won and lost two games, they are still the only team in the conference at .500.

The cross-town transition of former University of Houston assistant basketball coach Jerry Francis to Prairie View seems to have paid off. The Panthers are second in the SWAC with a 1-2 start, but are proving to be a reckoning force. Although they lost to Texas A&M in 83-78 last week, it took two overtimes to do it and junior guard Malachi Thruston put up 24 to take it that far.

The Jags round off the top three in the conference and as aforementioned are quite a surprise in the SWAC. As a matter of fact, the top three teams are quite surprising in their play. But the standout player is 6’9″ sophomore forward Pete Cipriano. The New Jersey product is proving to be the import for Southern needed averaging 10.0 points and 8 rebounds per game.

Game to Watch

Wait until the 17th, when Prairie View faces LSU.

Player of the Week

Senior guard Ra’kim Hollis – The real reason why Texas Southern is atop the SWAC.

     

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