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Golden Eagle Basketball Practice Is Just Ahead

Golden Eagle Basketball Practice Is Just Ahead
Hattiesburg, Miss. - Head Coach James Green and his Golden Eagle basketball team open practice for the 2001-02 season on Oct. 13 with two-hour practices at 7 a.m., and 2 p.m., in Reed Green Coliseum as the Eagles prepare for a regular-season opener on Nov.17 at home against intrastate rival Jackson State.

The team is scheduled to work at 7 a.m., and 4 p.m., Sunday and thereafter, fans who want to watch practice will need to use the alarm clock since those practices start at 6:15 each weekday morning. The Eagles also will hold an "open-to-the-public" scrimmage at 10:30 a.m., Oct. 27, in conjunction with homecoming activities.

Southern Miss fans will get a preseason look at the squad in exhibition games on Nov. 7 against Global Sports and a week later against Spirit Express. Both games start at 7 p.m., as will all home games where television does not dictate a different start time.

Following the Jackson State opener, the Golden Eagles will play in the Hispanic College Fund Classic in Albuquerque, N.M., Nov. 23-24, where Southern Miss will play West Virginia in the opening round and then either Pacific or host New Mexico in the second round.

The Golden Eagles are coming off a 22-9 season that earned Green's squad a postseason NIT invite, in addition to a share of the Conference USA regular-season title, the first for Southern Miss. Green also was selected the league's coach of the year by his fellow coaches and center Vandarel Jones earned league defensive player of the year honors.

Losses from that squad were heavy. Gone are Jones, leading scorer David Wall and point guard Mel Cauthen. In addition, Kilavorus Thompson, who was expected to earn an additional year of eligibility after graduating on time, suffered a knee injury in the offseason, making his status for the coming season uncertain. Back though are guard Mario Myles who started 29-

of-31 games, while averaging 6.1 points and 3.9 rebounds, forward Elvin Mims who played in 30 games and averaged 10 points and 5.4 rebounds a game, point guard Brad Richardson, who played in all 31 games, while averaging 5.1 points and 2.4 assists a game, guard Pete Meneses who averaged 3.7 points and almost a rebound a game, Clement Carter, who also played in 30 games, while averaging 2.7 points and almost two rebounds a game, and Bernard Duncan, who saw action in 24 games, while averaging 2.6 points and 1.5 rebounds a game.

While the losses were heavy, Green is convinced this version of the Golden Eagles has the opportunity to be as or more successful than last year's team. ?While we lost some players who made major contributions to our success in recent years, we?ll also be able to play a lot more people this year, our perimeter game will be stronger, and I also think we?ll be quicker than we have been,? said Green. ?With Brad at the point guard spot, I think we?ll have a little more punch both offensively and defensively than we have had. His experience level is not what Mel?s (Cauthen) was, but he?s a little more explosive than Mel.?

Green also says that while the team should be stronger on the perimeter, there?s concern about the inside, post-up game. ?I?m not sure, at this point, that we have one,? said Green. ?Basically what we have is Elvin there, as far as proven players go. We were counting on Kilavorus, who was on schedule to receive another year from the NCAA after graduating on time in the spring, but his offseason knee injury means he won?t be available to us.

?We just don?t know about such players as Ben Lambert, Jasper Johnson and Carey Rigsby in the post at this point. We?re really looking at the possibility of not knowing, early on, what we have in the post, and how quickly these players are able to learn and adjust to our program could dictate, to some extent, how successful we?ll be this season.?

Green and his staff also have concerns about ball handling. ?We?ve got Brad out there, but our other point guard, James Pattman, is a freshman, and is, at this point, an unknown quantity. After you get past those two, you have a lot of wing players, Clement and Mario who handle the ball okay, Pete is adequate but not real strong in that area. David is in pretty much the same situation, so there is a question mark about how well we?ll handle the ball.

?We also should be a better offensive team from the perimeter that what we have been in the past. We also should be better on the perimeter, defensively.?

Tickets remain on sale for the upcoming season. Fans should contact the ticket office at 601/266-5418 or 1-800-844-TICK to purchase tickets or for additional information.

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