HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Golden Eagle basketball fans will get their first look at Head Coach James Green's Southern Miss basketball team when Global Sports visits for a 7 p.m., Wednesday exhibition game in Green Coliseum.
Following the opener, Southern Miss will entertain West Alabama for a 7 p.m., exhibition game, Nov. 11, and then open the regular season with a Nov. 21 game against Alcorn State. That game is scheduled for 8 p.m., and will be part of a doubleheader that will include the Southern Miss Lady Eagles playing Troy State in a 5:30 p.m., game.
Southern Miss wrapped up heavy preparations for the exhibition opener with a Saturday scrimmage that saw the White squad beat the Black squad, 72-53, in a scrimmage that encompassed two, 15-minute running halves. Senior forward/center Charles Gaines led all scorers with 21 points for the winners. He made 10-of-13 field goals and pulled down a game-high five rebounds.
Junior guard Dante Stiggers and senior guard/forward Clement Carter added 16 points each. Stiggers had a game-high 10 assists, and Carter made 7-of-11 field goals, including 2-of-4 from three point range. Sophomore Jasper Johnson connected on 6-of-7 field goals, including 2-of-3 from three point range, to lead the Black team with 14 points. Sophomore Jason Forte added 11 points.
The winners finished the game shooting .657 (23-of-35) from the floor, and the Black squad managed 35-of-57 (.614).
Southern Miss starts the season with probably more experience than any team Green has had in his previous seven seasons with the Eagles. That includes four starters, who, between them, averaged 37.6 points and 20.0 rebounds. Add in numbers from three other key returning lettermen and those totals increase to 58.1 points and 28.0 rebounds for the seven returning lettermen.
That group is headed by Gaines, who led the 2002-03 squad to a 13-16 record and two games deep into the C-USA Tournament, with 15.1 points and 9.6 rebounds a game. Greg Johnson added 12.6 points and 4.6 rebounds a game, Carter 4.0 points and 3.6 rebounds and Stiggers 5.9 points and 2.2 rebounds. Stiggers also recorded a team-best 134 assists.
The reserve group includes Jasper Johnson (11.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg), David Haywood (6.6 ppg, 2.4 rpg) and Jason Forte (2.6 ppg, 1.3 rpg).
The four returning starters all played in all 29 games last season, and started a total of 109 games. The three reserves played in a total of 81 games, led by Haywood's 29 games and five starts.
This year's version of the Golden Eagle team will have a number of players who can play different positions, as well as different roles for the club. Starters for the exhibition opener probably will be Gaines in the post, Stiggers at the point and a combination of Carter, Greg and Jasper Johnson and Haywood filling the other three spots.
Newcomer Ronald Pittman, a 6-7, 230-pound junior transfer from Washington, D.C., via Tyler Junior College, will add needed help inside and freshman guards Sam Richardson (6-4, 190) and Jarekus Singleton (6-3, 210), after sitting out last season, will do the same on the perimeter.