Building for Sun Belt play remains focus for UALR

Will Neighbour
Remember back when UALR lost its home opener to North Florida? We told you that loss hurt because of the future schedule. And so far that’s come to pass. UALR is now 0-3 heading into a road game Friday night at Baton Rouge, La., against Southern.

But building for Sun Belt Conference play remains the focus (it has been all along) for the Trojans.

“It’s not an overnight thing. What you are right now is not important compared to what you are at the end of the season,” UALR Coach Steve Shields said.

But you also don't want to dig your season record so far into a hole that you can't get out. And UALR sill has nonconference road games remaining against Memphis, Tulsa and Oklahoma. Getting victories now is important. And Friday’s game marks the third consecutive game against a team from last year’s NCAA Tournament.

There has been visible improvement in UALR’s play. But there hasn’t been the consistency required to win games. UALR’s rebounding was awful on opening night and has been better in each of the past two games.
“That’s one area of significant improvement that has to continue for us,” Shields said.

Another area of concern is shooting the basketball. But that is an area Shields feels will work itself out.
“We have guys on our team that aren’t shooting the ball well through three games who I feel certain will be good shooters for us over the long term,” Shields said. “What’s important is that the ball is moving and we’re getting good looks.”

The ball movement was most obvious against Middle Tennessee.

“The ball had to move well for us to get to the foul line 42 times against a very good defensive team in Middle Tennessee,” Shields said. “As long as we keep doing that, I think our shooting will get better.”