HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WJTV) — The Southern Miss Golden Eagles men’s basketball team is currently sitting at 3-7 just 10 games into Jay Ladner’s tenure as head coach.
Ladner, a former Golden Eagle himself, isn’t worried about his team’s record 10 games into his time at USM. He looks at other things for validation, like his team’s comeback vs Southern Illinois last Saturday.
“I was really excited about the fact that we were that like I said, we’re young, we didn’t quit,” Ladner said. “We got down in a big way the other way and were able to come back. So it was a good win, should be a good confidence builder for our team.”
Ladner said that Southern Illinois game was big in more ways than one. Not only was it a confidence builder, but the defense finally started to come around.
“In the second half of that game versus Southern Illinois, we finally got our defensive numbers where they needed to be,” said Ladner. “Our goal was to hold teams to 35 percent or less in opponent field goal percentage. That was really, that was my emphasis on my guys. Yeah we made shots. We made some big shots in the second half. It was good to see guys like Ladavius Draine who’s really struggled this year to make some. But, the real key number was our opponent field goal percentage.”
With the defense getting better, the next step for Southern Miss is getting the chemistry right.
“With the young experience that we have I think it’s coming along well,” said redshirt senior forward Leonard Harper Baker. “A little slower than expected but it just comes with the guys not playing a lot of basketball in their life and stuff like that. So I feel like overall we’re gelling at a good pace and come conference time we’ll be ready.”
Ladner said he’s focused on things like this rather than his team’s record right now. Obviously the record isn’t where he’d like it to be, but overall he’s happy with where his team is at.
“The results are about what they should be,” Ladner said. “We’ve got a really young team. New to each other, new to a coaching staff. But they’ve continued to work hard and we’ve got better each and every time out. I mean if you go back to the Mississippi College game…where we are from right then is…we’ve come a long way.”
Southern Miss plays North Florida on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Reed Green Coliseum in Hattiesburg.