Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

Jacksonville State Gets a Building Block Win

November 25, 2008 Columns No Comments

AMHERST, Mass. – You can’t read too much into one game, especially early in the season. But the final score on Monday night can’t be the only good thing Jacksonville State takes home.

The Gamecocks came to town on an evening that was big for the UMass faithful, although the crowd wasn’t very large. The paid attendance was over 4,800 (the Mullins Center seats nearly 9,500), but they were there for the home debut of new head coach Derek Kellogg, a hometown hero who was among the keys to UMass becoming a national power in the 1990s. The young Gamecocks at first glance would seem like an opponent the Minutemen could certainly beat to give Kellogg a win in his home debut.

But that’s not what happened. Despite trailing by five points with 29 seconds left, Jacksonville State walked out with a 75-74 win that had plenty of positives.

Jacksonville State was picked last in the Ohio Valley Conference preseason poll of the head coaches and sports information directors. At first glance, that seems like an understandable selection. The Gamecocks have just four upperclassmen among their top 11 players and a new head coach after a 7-22 showing last season. Four true freshmen are on the roster, and a fifth freshman, Geddes Robinson, was a non-qualifier last season.

Those freshmen are among the reasons for Gamecock fans to be hopeful. Only Stephen Hall, who has already been a steady contributor off the bench, was signed before James Green took over as head coach. Green then had to work with just one live weekend in April to evaluate players, but went out and recruited Brandon Crawford, who has been an instant impact player, then added John Barnes and junior college forward Jacques Leeds.

Crawford already has the look of a star player. He’s athletic and has a good body for his position, and in his first four games he has averaged 16 points and is 9-15 from behind the three-point line. On Monday, he came into the game with his team trailing 13-12 and wasted little time making his presence felt. He scored six straight points to cap a run of eight unanswered to give the Gamecocks the lead at 20-13.

“During practice, we felt he had a chance to be a really good player for us, but he’s actually scored the ball a lot better in the games than what he did in practice,” said Green. “He’s very athletic, he’s long, and he gives us a guy that really sometimes is a mismatch for other teams in the fact that he’s athletic enough to go down inside and do some things there, too.”

Green can see the effect Crawford has had on his teammates with his play. While he surely wasn’t the sole or even main reason for the poise they showed late in the game, he had a role in the end as well, as he converted a four-point play with 23 seconds left that pulled the Gamecocks within one, setting up the dramatics in the final seconds.

“I think when you see young guys play like that, it gives everybody confidence,” said Green.

While this was one game in a long season, you have to think this gives them a confidence boost. This is a road win for a young team early on that can only help them. It also came after events that might normally deflate a young team and perhaps even serve as knockout blows. After the Gamecocks blew a seven-point lead by allowing UMass to run off 13 unanswered points, the psychological impact of giving up the lead might be damaging enough all by itself, especially that late in the game.

Green talked about this game being something for his team to learn from, and he felt they gained something from their season opener at South Carolina. Those are signs that this team is buying into what the coaches are teaching, and that their talent won’t be all that they have going for them.

“As a coach, and being a part of about seven different programs, I can’t really remember having as many young players that have been as poised as we have in the two road games that we’ve had,” said Green, who had been the head coach at Mississippi Valley State before taking this job.

Some of the credit there has to go to the veterans, notably seniors Jonathan Toles (who scored the winning basket) and DeAndre Bray, one of the shortest players in college basketball at 5’6″. Toles led the team with 18 points and added five assists with just one turnover. In fact, the Gamecocks had 19 assists with just nine turnovers on the night.

It’s still early in the season, and Jacksonville State is sure to have some growing pains along the way. They could just as easily finish the season winning just three more games to go with the three wins they already have. But a win like the one they had on Monday night can go a long way towards helping a team grow better, especially if, as Green talked about, it is a game his team learns from.

Comment on this Article:







Advertisement

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Your Phil of Hoops

Saturday Notes – December 20, 2014

December 21, 2014 by

author_kasiecki

A busy Saturday is in the books, and we saw the matchups get better, the results continue to be noteworthy and tell us more, and a couple of the games needed a lot of extra time to decide.

Despite a hit on the bottom line, Stony Brook’s transition continues

December 16, 2014 by

stonybrook

Stony Brook was able to hang with Providence until the roof caved in several minutes into the second half. It’s part of a growing process this team in transition needs, and it continues despite dropping a few games along the way.

Amidst Maine’s rebuilding challenge, there is hope

December 12, 2014 by

maine

Maine has a long road ahead as they rebuild under new head coach Bob Walsh. Amidst the early struggles, the Black Bears have shown some reason for hope going forward.

Hoopville Archives

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

2014 Scholar Roundball Classic recap and notes

December 16, 2014 by

author_kasiecki

We look at some notes and evaluations from Sunday’s action at the Scholar Roundball Classic, where the blowouts included some noteworthy performances.

2014 Hoop Mountain Prep Classic – Sunday notes

December 9, 2014 by

author_kasiecki

We look back at Sunday’s action in the Hoop Mountain Prep Classic, which included an overtime thriller and a couple of lopsided contests, and some prospects who helped themselves out with their play.

Some notes from the National Prep Showcase

November 28, 2014 by

author_kasiecki

The busy weekend that just passed also included a few games at the National Prep Showcase. Here are a few notes from some of the action early on Friday and Saturday.

New England Prep Schools 2014-15: looking back and looking ahead

November 3, 2014 by

nepsac

With a series of prep school open gym visits in the book and the season not far away, here’s a look back at open gyms and a look forward to the season in the New England prep school ranks.

Marianapolis Prep will battle in Class AA

October 20, 2014 by

marianapolis

Marianapolis Prep is far from loaded with talent, but they have enough perimeter talent to be dangerous. As is usually the case, they will battle and be a tough out in Class AA.

2014 Prep School Tour

Missed a recap of an open gym workout? We have them all right here for you.

Sept. 9: Putnam Science Academy
Sept 10: Commonwealth Academy
Sept. 11: St. Andrew's
Sept. 12: Northfield Mount Hermon
Sept. 16: Brewster Academy and Phillips Exeter
Sept. 17: Brooks School
Sept. 21: Holderness School
Sept. 23: St. Thomas More and Marianapolis Prep
Sept. 24: South Kent School and Kent School
Sept. 25: Williston Northampton
Sept. 28: Wilbraham and Monson Academy and Suffield Academy
Sept. 30: New Hampton
Oct. 5: Worcester Academy
Oct. 7: Brimmer and May
Oct. 8: Cushing Academy
Oct. 9: Tilton
Oct. 12: Tabor Academy and Rivers School
Oct. 14: The Master's School
Oct. 16: Vermont Academy

You can also find them all right here.