When former UALR standout Rashad Jones-Jennings pulled down anincredible 30 rebounds in a game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, I asked him howhe did it.
“I just assumed every shot was a miss and just went and got it,”he told me.
It sounds like he’s oversimplifying it a bit, but he’s not.
You see, Jones-Jennings wasn’t the tallest player, or thestrongest, or the player with the biggest vertical leap. But Jones-Jennings hadas much desire to go get the ball as any player who has been here under CoachSteve Shields. Jones-Jennings had the want to to get it done.
And the current group of UALR Trojans (8-5, 2-0) could use some ofthat as they travel to South Alabama (5-5, 2-0) at 2:05 p.m. today for a SunBelt Conference game.
This group is big. It’s getting stronger. It’s got leapers (andeven a Leeper). But it just isn’t a good rebounding team. It cost the Trojanslast Monday as second-chance points were too much to overcome in a loss to amuch smaller Louisiana Tech team.
UALR’s teams have been known for their toughness over the yearsunder Shields. While opposing teams no doubt still prepare to play UALR like it’sgoing to be a tackle football game, this UALR team is much more finesse (withthe exception of Taggart Lockhart and Leroy Isler). And it’s getting killed onthe boards.
And UALR faces another four-guard type team today in SouthAlabama, a team that hits the glass hard. Getting a body on a body is going tobe a key today and throughout the Sun Belt season.
BURN BABY BURN
We don’t expect a big crowd at the Mitchell Center today. South Alabamais averaging only 2,231 through its first three home games. And with studentsaway on Christmas break, the Mitchell Center, one of the nicest in the SunBelt, could be a bit empty.
Today’s game is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. But there’s no way it’sstarting at that time. The Mitchell Center is hosting the UALR-South Alabamawomen’s game beginning at noon. Expect the men’s game to start between 2:15 and2:30.
BTH KEYS TO VICTORY
70 Or Bust: UALR is 8-0 this season when it holds opponents to 69 orfewer points. South Alabama has scored at least 70 in all five of itsvictories. UALR wins if it keeps the Jags in the 60s.
Restrict Rubit: South Alabama’s Augustine Rubit is a beast. He had 23points and 19 rebounds last Sunday against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. UALRhas to get a body on Rubit at all times and make someone else beat them.
Turning Point: We expect South Alabama interim Coach Jeff Price to turnup the defensive pressure. UALR has to handle it. UALR is 7-0 this season whencommitting fewer turnovers than its opponents.
We’ve seen the line at anywhere from South Alabama by 6 points to asmany as South Alabama by 8 points. We know UALR has struggled on the road thisyear, but that seems high.
We admit it. We’re homers. But 79-62? Really OmniRankings? I also have a similar reaction for CBS and TSN in the opposite direction:
OmniRankings (3-1): South Alabama 79, UALR 62
Real Time RPI (10-2): South Alabama 70, UALR 68
The Sports Network (9-2): UALR 68, South Alabama 66
Jeff Sagarin (10-2): South Alabama 76, UALR 69
CBS Sportsline (9-3): UALR 70, South Alabama 69
BTH Average (9-3): South Alabama 72.0, UALR 67.4