SCOUTING ALCORN STATE
Alcorn State is 0-9 and coming off an 87-52 loss at Wichita State on
Monday. The Braves return just one starter and seven letterwinners off
last season's 6-25 team. They were picked to finish ninth in the
Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) preseason poll.
ASU, located in Vicksburg, Miss., is led by junior center JeMarkus
Holt, who averages a team-high 11 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
He's followed in scoring by senior forward Jonathan Boyd (10.6 ppg,
team-high 20 three-pointers and 15 steals), freshman forward Ian
Francis (8.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg), freshman guard Keith Searcy (7.0 ppg,
team-high 15 assists), senior guard Brandon Rogers (6.8 ppg), and
freshman forward Jamar Ragland (5.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg).
Larry Smith, an Alcorn State graduate and former NBA standout, is in
his second year as Braves' head coach with a 6-34 record. Smith began
his coaching career with the Houston Rockets after retiring from the
NBA in 1983. He served 10 seasons as an assistant with the Rockets,
helping them win two NBA championships in 1994 and ‘95. He then served
as head coach of the NBDL's Anaheim Arsenal and as an assistant for the
Austin Torros during the 2006-07 season. Smith became an assistant with
the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks in 2008 before taking over as head coach
at Alcorn State on May 8, 2008.
Smith spent 13 seasons in the NBA (1980-93) with the Golden State Warriors, Rockets and San Antonio Spurs. An NBA All-Rookie
selection in 1981, the 6-8 Smith was a rebounding machine and one of
the toughest players (he was nicknamed "Mr. Mean") and premier
rebounders during his career. He posted career averages of 6.7 points
and 9.2 rebounds in 25.9 minutes per game. Smith recorded five seasons
of at least 10 rebounds per game, marked by a career-high 12.1 rebounds
during his rookie season.
Kansas is 3-0 vs. Alcorn State with the last meeting a 57-56 victory in
the first round of the NCAA Tournament on March 16, 1984, in Lincoln,
Neb. That was coach Larry Brown's first season at Kansas and also star
Carl Henry's senior campaign. KU first beat ASU, 72-60, on Jan. 25,
1982 at Allen Fieldhouse, and also claimed an 86-74 victory the
following season in the Phog on Dec. 20, 1982. Kansas is 14-0 against
current membership of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
NO OVERLOOKING BRAVES
Despite Alcorn State's winless record and the upcoming game vs. UCLA,
the Jayhawks say they won't overlook the Bears.
"We can't come in here thinking that we can't be beat because we can,"
sophomore guard Tyshawn Taylor said. "College basketball works like
that sometimes. We could go out there and miss a bunch of shots and the
other team could be on fire. I've seen it happen. We have to play them
like we would play any other opponent."
ROOM TO IMPROVE
After a 5-0 start, KU coach Bill Self still sees much room for
improvement, especially on defense and rebounding. The Jayhawks were
outrebounded by Central Arkansas and Tennessee Tech. KU holds a 40.2 to
34.6 rebounding edge over foes this season.
"I would like to see us pressure the ball and not get beaten back down
the court," Self said. "I would also love for us to be able to get long
rebounds. We should be better at rebounding than we are."
However, KU is blocking over seven shots per game and averaging over
nine steals per contest. Self knows those numbers takes away rebounding
"A lot of times when you block a shot, it goes out of bounds or back to
the offense and those are missed rebounding opportunities," Self said.
"In games where you block a lot of shots and get a lot of steals, there
are fewer opportunities to get rebounds. Our rebounding numbers are not
great, but they are probably not as awful as I thought they were after
Fifty-two years ago on Dec. 2, 1957, junior center Wilt Chamberlain led
KU to 63-56 season-opening victory at Oklahoma State. Chamberlain
scored 30 points, while junior forward Ron Loneski added 14.
KU went 18-5 that 1957-58 season, winning the Big Seven Holiday
Tournament and finishing second in the conference at 8-4. That was
Chamblerlain's final season at Kansas.
Lacin' 'Em Up For Alcorn State
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