The Lion's Roar

Lions basketball wins opener

Rachel Taylor

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Junior guard Marlain Veal drives the ball to the basket in the game against Centenary College of Louisiana. He scored 17 points in the home opener. Rachel Taylor/The Lion's Roar 

The men’s basketball team won both their games over the week. They won the season opener against Centenary College of Louisiana 99-67. The team also beat William Carey University 80-71 earlier last week in the last exhibition game.

The Lions had some standout players against William Carey, with junior guard Marlain Veal racking up 21 points, senior guard Eddy Polanco grabbing 20 points and junior forward Moses Greenwood getting 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

William Carey began to outpace the Lions in the second half, and Head Coach Jay Ladner shared his displeasure.

“I think that any basketball team, but particularly our basketball team, has to feed off their defense, and as they play better defense, the offense obviously picks up, and you know the other night, I thought we were very poor,” said Ladner. “Our effort was poor defensively, and we were 10 and 19 at the line.”

The Lions turned things around in their game against Centenary, which marked their 12th straight home opener win as well as their highest score in a season opener in eight years.

“Tonight, I thought we were in a much better rhythm defensively, and all the guys were playing hard,” said Ladner. “They shot a higher percentage. I’ll give them credit for that, but you know then we go 31 to 39 for the line and 53 percent from the field. So, that’s encouraging.”

Five players scored in double digits with Polanco leading with 18, Veal following with 17, redshirt senior forward Jordan Capps adding 14, redshirt senior guard Jabbar Singleton with 12 and redshirt senior forward James Currington adding 10. Veal also had six assists while Greenwood once again had the game-high for rebounds with nine.

“I really thought that in the last four minutes of the first half, we finally begin to get into a rhythm,” said Ladner. “ Offensively, we were forcing things too much. In the first 16 minutes, it was not sharing the basketball and being too individualistic and frankly lacking patience, but I think once we settled down there. I think as the game went on our defensive pressure just frankly wore them down and then they begin to turn the basketball over.”

The game against William Carey was Capps’ first time playing since being injured early last season.

“It’s good to have Jordan back,” said Ladner. “That was his first action in almost a year. In fact, coming up on the Tulane game on Monday was the last time that he played. So, obviously I think that first time through he was really rusty, but that’s what basketball takes: time, but as the game went on, I thought he began to look more and more like himself.”

Capps explained how he prepared ahead of the game.

“I just went to practice really and prepared like we always do, like I did before last year,” said Capps. “But like coach said, I was like very, very rusty, but I mean that happens when you don’t play for a year, so all you can do is just look at the next game and try to move on from there.”

Capps also talked about his performance in the match.

“Any time you score consecutively, it gives you more confidence to be more aggressive, and I try to be aggressive because, you know, I just try to fit into the game because it’s been a long time since I’ve played,” said Capps. “I was getting used to my teammates even though we practice a lot. I was getting back used to the game because the game and practice is very different.”

Ladner is not planning to let the team get complacent after their wins, but has plans to keep them moving forward.

“Now, we got to be able to start getting better as a basketball team,” said Ladner. “We got to be more sound, we are still making too many mistakes, too many careless turnovers. 21 turnovers tonight. A lot of them unforced. Poor decisions, trying to do too much with the basketball, but we’re going to get that under control.”

After the game against Tulane University on Monday, Nov. 13, the Lions have one more game before the Savannah Invitational. 

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