Gone are the long-sleeve t-shirt days of Coach Doc Sadler and in is the suit and tie era of Coach Jay Ladner.
“Being able to get that first one under your belt is a special feeling especially at home, coming back to my school and our program,” Ladner said. “By the same token, we want to take it one at a time, and we have a lot of work to do.”
A 90-71 win over Delta State started off the Golden Eagles’ season Tuesday; however, Ladner said he will not be satisfied.
“I am never going to be real pleased,” Ladner said. “We want to simply get better every day. We don’t want to get too high after a winning a game or get too low after losing one. We want to take a methodical approach to be constructively critical, come out here tomorrow, and let’s start correcting things.”
Despite being ahead by 20 points at halftime and shooting 58 points in the paint, Ladner wants his team to be uncomfortable with opponents scoring.
“They get very comfortable very easily,” Ladner said. “I wasn’t comfortable. I’m never comfortable. Basketball is a game of a bunch of small individual possessions, and I want our players to play other than strategically but regardless of the score.”
With new faces in the starting lineup, fans were comforted with the performance of redshirt senior Boban Jacdonmi. The starting forward went 12 for 16 in field goals and had 10 rebounds for the night. Jacdonmi led the Golden Eagles in points with nearly a third of the team’s total points.
“He made a great move to start the game and came back to his left side and made a nice little left handed jump hook, and that got him going,” Ladner said. “Hopefully that will be a confidence builder for him because of our lack of seniority on the team. Him and Leonard Harper-Baker are really going to have to carry us.”
Sophomore Tyler Stevenson stepped up on the court with 18 points in 18 minutes of play. Stevenson also went nine for 15 in field goals and had four rebounds. Ladner utilized Stevenson as well as his two seniors Jacdonmi and Harper-Baker at the post for a successful job around the rim.
“Ever since I picked up a basketball, around the rim has been my bread and butter. Hooks around the rim, scoring low posts, deep touches and stuff,” Jacdonmi said. “In the off season, I really did put a lot of work in getting my touches right and making sure that my percentage was higher, taking better shots and making better choices.”
Southern Miss will spend the majority of November on the road facing opponents such as Iowa State and Gonzaga.
“I think we can be really good going forward,” Stevenson said. “We’ve got a lot of young players. That means a lot of room for improvement, a lot of upside. Coach is always pushing us in practice in our energy and effort. So as long as we do that and stick to his game plan, we will be really good this year.”
The next home game for the Golden Eagles will be Nov. 24 against William Carey University.