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20 November 2007
JSU Focusing on Possessions

By Al Muskewitz
Star Sports Writer

Reprinted here in its entirety.

JACKSONVILLE — Mike LaPlante is possessed with possessions.

His Jacksonville State basketball team lost two close games in Kennesaw State’s 100 Club Classic last weekend in part because it gave the opponents too many extra chances with offensive rebounds and turnovers.

Guess what the focus will be tonight when the Gamecocks (1-3) play NAIA Berry in Pete Mathews Coliseum?

“This past weekend we spent a lot of time with the kids talking about possessions,” LaPlante said. “We lost two games this weekend by a total of three or four possessions, depending if you hit a 3 or two. The game comes down to ... what you do with your possessions.”

The Gamecocks out shot their opponent from the floor in both games, but were minus-5 in possessions in their 80-74 loss to Kennesaw State and minus-9 in their 86-83 loss to Texas State.

If possessions are worth 1.1 points, that calculates to six points in the Kennesaw game — the margin of victory — and 10 against Texas State.

Against Kennesaw, the Gamecocks had three fewer turnovers, but gave up eight more offensive rebounds; the Owls outscored them 16-9 on second-chance points. Against Texas State, they had six fewer offensive rebounds and three more turnovers; the Bobcats scored 20 second-chance points.

It didn’t help matters against Kennesaw they shot 4-of-17 from the foul line, or that leading scorer Jeremy Bynum went scoreless after averaging 23 points per game in his first two games.

“Even with all of those things, if we could have had an equal number of possessions, you’d have a better opportunity (to win),” LaPlante said.

In their only victory so far this season, against Tennessee Temple, the Gamecocks had 13 more possessions. They also hit an Ohio Valley Conference-record 19 3-pointers in that game.

“What we tried to explain to them going into the weekend was take out the Georgia game, take out Tennessee Temple, every game from here on out is going to be a five-point game,” LaPlante said. “The majority of games the rest of the year are going to be close.

“I’m encouraged by some of the things we showed; and the things we’re weak at, we can get better at. It’s not that we don’t have enough athleticism or a good basketball IQ, it’s staying focused for the entire 40 minutes. And keeping people off the offensive glass.”

• Taking the next step: Senior guard Erik Adams rejoined the Gamecocks on the floor for the first time since suffering his preseason ankle injury Monday. He’ll be doing non-contact work this week. Team officials are shooting for a Dec. 1 return against Central Arkansas, but the OVC opener at Samford Dec. 6 might be more likely.

“When we get him back, he’ll be a major addition,” LaPlante said.

Today: Jacksonville State vs. Berry, 7 p.m., FM 91.9

About Al Muskewitz

Al Muskewitz covers golf and Jacksonville State University sports teams The Anniston Star.

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