Eagles basketball is easy to love
Published: Thursday, November 2, 2006
Updated: Sunday, May 17, 2009 19:05
I think I'm in love. No, I'm serious this time. I think this is the one. I know love when I see it. I don't care what anyone thinks - I'm in love with Southern Miss basketball.
I saw Craig Craft come down pushing the floor ferociously finding Sai'Quon Stone in mid-air for the alley-oop. I saw C. Beasley initiating the offense like he'd wrote the plays himself. I witnessed a rising star from Starkville in Jarvis Hill, Jeremy Wise doing his thing, and even Maros Zuffa lighting up treys Slovakian style. We all remember the not-so-pleasing 10-21 season last year, but just watching those guys enjoy the 81-52 blow-out victory over Lithuania Academy gave me something to believe in. Some say that Love is blind, but I don't care, I feel pretty good about this upcoming season. And Saturday, it was love at first sight.
Ok, so she's not the prettiest girl on the block. The Eagles compiled a total record of 10 wins and 21 losses last season. They didn't win any games on the road, and went 3-11 in conference play. And yes, I know that the boys only averaged 60 points per game, while the opposition averaged 67. Doesn't scare me…we can work this out. I even asked our local 'Dr. Phil' for some counseling in our relationship. "This is a team that is easy to coach, and we'll work together," said Head Coach Larry Eustachy. "Things are good, and better than expected. We just have to continue to play hard," said the Doctor.
It's Dr. Larry's 3rd year in coaching now. He orchestrates the team with encouraging phrases like "Lively feet! Lively feet!" or "Hand movement, hand movement!" His coaching strategies and mannerisms are both unorthodox and strange. But it has to work, his resume proves so. Three seasons at Idaho, 61-33 with a 1993 Big Sky Conference championship ring. Utah State 98-53, with three Big West titles ('95, '97,'98). And also at Iowa State he was named the 2000 National Coach of the Year. So it ain't like he can't coach.
He has 11 new players including freshman. Last year, Courtney Beasley was named to the 2005-2006 all freshman team. Craig Craft is returning after a successful injury recovery while premiere guard Kyle Lamonte is currently rehabbing. And the Freshman squad is more than capable of sharing, competing and producing while at the same time skirmishing for playing time. Also in the new tandem it features my main man Stone, who stands with a 6-foot-6-inches figure from Brooklyn (I already know he's a Yankees fan) and Demar Dotson with his monstrous 6-9 presence dominating the floor. When we asked Craig Craft what were his thoughts on the season he said, "All coach wants us to do is play hard and keep our heads in the game. We should be successful."
You can see these guys walking out smiling, with an attitude that wasn't expected-even from me. It's hard not to be excited. One poet wrote, "The heart beats the drums of Africa every time the rubber bounces against the foundation of the world." Wait…that was me.
So despite the fact USM only averaged .422 FG percentage to their opposition's .456 FG, including .386 from the arc things are still optimistic. USM didn't have much on the offensive, but did post more rebounds the entire season than the others putting up 1004-933, winning 50 percent of home games as well. "Our thing was to work hard this off-season, and we want to win, and definitively go conference this year," said rising-star Courtney Beasley.
Listen, hate on me all you want. But, I'm in love, and it doesn't matter what's on the outside (sometimes) but what's on the inside. And a lot of people have pulled themselves away from USM basketball…but I'm encouraging them to get back into it. This could be one of the greatest Cinderella stories we've seen yet - right here at USM. "Of course, I'm very excited about this Season," said Dr. Larry. And you better believe that I'm excited too. I love you Golden Eagle basketball.