Yarbrough uses bench roster beneficially on court

The Lions basketball team, currently 9-10 overall, is making their way through the Southland Conference at 4-4. Head Coach Jim Yarbrough says his team is thriving on their home court, and now since their two formerly injured players are back in shape, he hopes everyone can mesh back to normality and bring their confidence and progress on the road.
A contest against the Lamar University Cardinals (2-18, 1-7 SLC) two weeks ago, Saturday, Jan. 18, gave the Lions a 91-65 victory, redemption from the previous Thursday when the Lions lost to Sam Houston State Bearkats 85-78.
Newcomer to the Lions basketball program, guard JaMichael Hawkins, is doing his part as one of the team’s leading scorers.  He scored 26 points against the Bearkats and 29 points in the win over Spring Hill on Dec. 30.
“He’s accepted his role as the sixth man off the bench and he’s thriving in it right now,” Yarbrough said. “He gives us some tremendous fire power off the bench.”
Hawkins scored 25 points against the Cardinals, 18 of which were three pointers. The guard from Jackson, Miss., is in his first season with the Lions.
As far as changing the starting line-up, Yarbrough says they are in a “good place right now” with Antonnio Benton, Dre Evans, Joshua Filmore, Devonte Upson and Jeffery Ricard.
A close game at home against Southeast Missouri State on Dec. 7 brought a 74-73 loss, and then, the Lions opened up SLC play on the road and came home with a double loss. However, Yarbrough says those two games were played with injured starters on the bench.
He is hopeful the team will return from the setback against the Bearkats and take their confidence from the match against the Cardinals on the road to play Texas A&M, Corpus-Christi and Houston Baptist.
“The thing I like the most from Thursday to Saturday is that we had a setback, but we came out focused well and didn’t let that set us back again,” Yarbrough said. “I think winning mindsets are all about that, and our guys did a pretty good job.”
The Lions took their talent on the road last week and finished 1-1. Playing the Texas A&M- Corpus Christi Islanders gave the Lions a run for their money as the Islanders came back in the second half strong to walk away with a 74-71 win over the Lions. Antonio Benton lead the Lions with 19 points and Jeffery Ricard and Dre Evans both scoring 11 for the team. JaMichael Hawkins also scored in the double digits with 14 points. Yarbrough said post game the match was in their control until is slipped away in the end.
When the Lions headed to play the Houston Baptist Huskies, their mentality took a one-eighty and they came together on the court for a 60-52 victory. The Lions come back to the University Center to play the University of New Orleans Privateers Thursday, Jan. 30 at 7:30 p.m.