Craig Maturing Both On And Off The Court

It has been quite a season for Michael Craig. The junior transferred in to Southern Miss just before the deadline, and the Eagles are sure glad he did. Tonight after practice he talked with about his maturing process this season, and what's he's been able to learn under this coaching staff.

Forward Michael Craig came to Southern Miss as a big time junior college player in Arizona. In fact, he was the Arizona JC player of the year last season.

While he is used to basketball on a high level, he has had to make some adjustments to life at the Division One level. Now that he is feeling more comfortable and really understanding his role, there is no limit to his ability to impact a game.

Averaging just a shade under 10 points per game, Craig said finding consistency is the main aspect of his game he's working hard on.

As he talked with after practice tonight, one message was clear, it all starts in practice.

"At practice, our message is the same every day," he said. "Stay humble, don't get big headed, and come out the same way as if we took a loss.

"Our next game just depends on how our practice goes. If we come out as hard as we can then things should go smooth our next game."

Looking back, Craig had a solid night against UAB, leading the Eagles to another conference USA win and doing it while earning an ESPN Top 10 play with his rim rocking dunk after making a great save.

"Coach has been telling me I need to play a lot harder and I try to do exactly what he tells me to do," he explained. "I happened to make a play and I just tried to get back to the paint like he stresses to me every day in practice.

"One of my teammates Neil Watson just happened to spot me for the oop and we made it happen. It was a lot of fun."

Highlight reel plays aside, Craig said the most important part of this season is learning what it takes to be successful at this level.

"I have definitely improved and matured a lot," he said. "I have always wanted to play on the wing but playing for Coach Tyndall has made me learn to play in the post. He's helping me do what I can to further my career after my two years here at Southern Miss.

"I have so much room for improvement, but he's taught me to never be satisfied."

Craig continued to stress the importance of a teacher like Coach Tyndall who has continued to mature him on and off the court.

"Oh he's meant everything," he said. "I mean without him I'd never be able to do it. This coaching staff pushes me every day. I don't care if I am sick or whatever, they always push me.

"They have given me what I needed most in my career, discipline. On and off the court, they have taught me that. I'm thankful to them for that."

That is certainly the case for the entire Eagle team as they have grown together each week.

"Like I said before its all about practice," he said. "Practicing so hard we have learned each other really well. We know what gaps need to be filled and who is going to cut where. We have just learned each other and where we need to be on the court at all times.

"We know our roles as a team and we are continuing to grow. We have learned each other real well."

Looking ahead, Craig said to win on the road against UCF they must continue to do the things they've been doing well during this win streak.

"We have to do the same things, box out, play sound defense, and just play as a team," he said. "The coaching staff does a good job of preparing us. They get us ready to play every week and help us know what to expect from our opponents."

One thing is for certain, you will not find anyone on this team looking ahead.

"We take it one game at a time," he said. "We don't want to get caught up thinking we have Memphis in a week or anything else. If we don't we'll get beat in the game we have. We can only control the game ahead."

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