Exhibition play begins with large victory

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The men’s basketball team displayed a solid performance as they returned to the University Center to treat fans with their first exhibition game. Last season, the Lions finished in the second round of the Southland Conference Tournament losing to the number four seeded Houston Baptist.

The men’s basketball team displayed a solid performance as they returned to the University Center to treat fans with their first exhibition game. Last season, the Lions finished in the second round of the Southland Conference Tournament losing to the number four seeded Houston Baptist.     
Nikisun Shrestha/The Lion's Roar

The Lions’ men’s basketball team won 81-53 against Southern-New Orleans in their first exhibition of the upcoming 2016-17 season.

On Wednesday, Oct. 26, the Lions displayed a fluctuating performance that displayed some flashes of brilliance, but left with some room for improvement.   

“It was good to get started against somebody else and certainly appreciate Southern University of New Orleans coming up and they battled us there for a while,” said Head Coach Jay Ladner. “I think our size probably took over a little bit there in the second half. There’s some good things and there’s obviously some things that we got to address.”

The coach pointed out particular aspects of the Lion’s game as major causes for concern.

“I’m very concerned about our rebounding, our lack of toughness, lack of grid on the boards,” said Ladner. “A lot of careless fouls. A lot of fouls because of poor fundamentals. There’s some rules emphasis this year that we got caught on that we are working hard on practice. As the game got faster, we revert back to some very poor fundamental habits.” 

Ladner wanted the players to take this game as an opportunity for the players to reflect on where they stand and to improve from here on.

“Now they’ll have an opportunity to see realistically what we are trying to prepare them to do,” said Ladner. “We only had six assists at the half that was a concern, finished with 18. I’m concerned with the amount of turnovers. We turned the ball over 18 times, most of them unforced, again go back to poor fundamentals. If, like the coaches, they look at themselves and look at the team in a constructively critical way, then we have a chance.”  

This game gave Ladner the opportunity to test his squad depth as he gave opportunity to all new players and the squad members to play in the game.

“Not only do we have a lot of new faces, I felt it was important in tonight’s game to get all of our guys in there by halftime,” said Ladner. “I wanted to get those guys in there, give them a little taste of it, get them in there the second time.”

Ladner was pleased with the performances given by his players senior forward Jordan Capps and junior guard Davon Hayes, but expects more out of them in the future.

“He did a good job staying big and strong, taking it up tough,” said Ladner on Capps’ performance. “I thought he did a better job of chasing rebounds in the second half rebounding out of his area, rebounding like he’s supposed to and is capable of. He’s capable of getting double doubles every night and he should.”

On his reunion with Hayes, whom Ladner coached in high school, Ladner thought he gave a solid first impression, but wants more out of him. 

“I’m proud to say we go way back,” said Ladner. “He played for me in high school. I thought he got off to a good start for somebody playing his first game. He’s a gifted jumper, a gifted athlete. I want to see him play with a little bit more passion out there and be more involved in all areas of the game.” 

Hayes thought his first experience for the Lions was not different from his previous experiences, but admitted to getting off to a slow start. 

“I was trying to slow myself down,” said Hayes. “It’s my first game back after a long time. I was trying to slow down and get in the rhythm of things, just get my teammates involved. I feel like when I’m playing for my high school. You change just a little bit, a little bit tougher, but everything’s been regular. It’s been fun.”  

Capps said he felt more at ease in the second season as a Lion and wants to influence his team’s performance in the future. 

“I’m more comfortable ’cause it’s my second year,” said Capps. “I know what Coach Ladner likes to do, what he doesn’t like to do. It’s really about not just me, but the team. If I feel comfortable, I wanna make them feel comfortable. This is a learning process for everyone. I feel like every time I’m aggressive, it kind of sparks the team. We just get a lot of energy from that. I guess that’s my strength, rebounding and being on the block and stuff like that.”

Ladner spoke about the new recruits and the changes in the university’s recruiting system. 

“One thing I love in the basketball players are guys that have the ability to shoot,” said Ladner. “Our recruiting has increased to the point where we can recruit guys that can shoot the ball. I can tell you, Chris Mejia is a great shooter. Before he leaves Southeastern Louisiana, he’ll be one of the great three point shooters we’ve ever had here. Brandon Gonzalez can shoot the ball, Mike Corchiani knocked one down. Eddy Polanco can shoot the ball. All six of the new guys shoot the basketball extremely well.”

Ladner then addressed on the team’s impressive home record and it’s substandard away record.

“When you’re establishing a program, the first thing you have to do is protecting your home turf, we’re beginning to do that,” said Ladner. “This is our eight win as far as our games here at home, but to win in the road in Division I, you have to be tough. You gotta be tough mentally and you have to be tough physically and that’s not something we were always last year, but to win on the road consistently in Division I, you have to have mental toughness, you got to defend.” 

The Lions will play LSU-Alexandria in the second exhibition game at home on Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m.

The men’s basketball team displayed a solid performance as they returned to the University Center to treat fans with their first exhibition game. Last season, the Lions finished in the second round of the Southland Conference Tournament losing to the number four seeded Houston Baptist.

The men’s basketball team displayed a solid performance as they returned to the University Center to treat fans with their first exhibition game. Last season, the Lions finished in the second round of the Southland Conference Tournament losing to the number four seeded Houston Baptist.     
Nikisun Shrestha/The Lion's Roar