MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Matthew Graves held his first practice as head coach of the University of South Alabama men's basketball team on Sunday, marking the official start of the 2013-14 season.
The Jaguars worked out for over two hours in the Striplin Practice Facility. Graves welcomes back three starters and five letterwinners from last season's 17-13 squad that earned an invitation to the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.
"I'm extremely excited now that we have all 13 guys together for the first time and we're able to work and establish some things we want to do both offensively and defensively," Graves said.
New NCAA legislation allows men's basketball programs to start practicing two weeks earlier than in years' past, allowing the new coaching staff extra time to implement their new offensive and defensive schemes.
"I think it's a huge advantage for us because of a couple of reasons: one is we're a new staff and all 13 players need the extra time to get adjusted to our terminology and how we want to do things, like the way we want to guard and the different sets we want to run," Graves noted. "Then we have six freshmen that are completely new to the college game. So we have to integrate them into how intense you have to be in practice for a 2 ½ hour period."
Returning Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, senior Augustine Rubit (Houston, Texas), and junior Mychal Ammons (Vicksburg, Miss.), will lead a group of eight newcomers, including six freshmen.
"It's important for both Aug and Mychal to be able to communicate to those freshmen that there will be some ups and downs, but at the end of the day you have to trust and believe in the coaching staff, stay the course and things will work themselves out," Graves said. "They need to establish a tone that we're going to be a very tough team to beat no matter who we're playing or when it is. For two guys in Antoine (Allen) and Augustine, this is their last go-around, so how do they want their seasons to be remembered? I want them to think about that every time they go out on the court."
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