UALR begins its 2013-2014 season tonight with high expectations. Despite being picked sixth in the Sun Belt Conference in the preseason coach’s poll, the expectation is for the Trojans to compete for the top seed in the postseason tournament.
|7 p.m. tonight|
Jack Stephens Center
The journey begins at 7 p.m. tonight as the Trojans (0-0) host North Florida (0-1) at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock.
Much of UALR’s high expectations rest with senior forward Will Neighbour. Arguably, Neighbour was UALR’s most heralded recruit in some time. He held firm with his commitment despite having to spend a couple of years at junior college. And after a couple of injury plagued seasons (and offseasons), Neighbour is healthy and poised for a big year.
What makes Neighbour special is his ability to do a little bit of everything. He has a devastating fade-away jumper that can be impossible to defend when it’s going down. And he’s unselfish when opponents try to double team him.
He’ll have to be special this year if UALR is to meet expectations. That starts with tonight.
While UALR will have a size advantage on the inside, North Florida will have the height advantage at the guard spot. If UALR senior Leroy Isler, at 6-5, chases around North Florida’s Beau Beech, at 6-8, it means UALR’s shooting guards are going to have to try to match up with North Florida’s Charles McRoy, who is 6-6. That task will fall to the likes of Josh Hagins and Kemy Osse, who are both 6-1.
KEYS TO VICTORY
SET THE ALARM North Florida has the benefit of already playing a game. They’ll have opening jitters out of the way. UALR needs to get off to a solid start tonight.
LET FREE-DOM RING The new NCAA rules make the likelihood of more fouls being called in games this year. UALR needs to get to the free throw line and win that stat line.
NO FREE THREE North Florida made 9 of 24 three-pointers (38 percent) while holding Florida to 2 of 10 (20 percent) on Friday. Senior Leroy Isler figures to get the matchup against North Florida’s Beau Beech, who made 5 of 8 threes. Beech, who is 6-8, didn’t even attempt a shot inside the arc. Against Florida he migrated to the three-point line and spent most of his time there. But he doesn’t need much space to get off his shot. He uses his height and has a quick release. And he’s always looking to shoot.
As of last check, no line has been set for tonight’s game.