Meridian men take 11-0 win
By By Stan Caldwell / EMG sports writer
Oct. 14, 2002
HATTIESBURG If the calendar says it's the middle of October, then it can only mean another college basketball season is right around the corner.
Saturday was the official opening day of practice for NCAA Division I programs, the first day of the long winter grind that ends in March Madness. The University of Southern Mississippi men and women each got the 2002-03 season off with a pair of practices Saturday at Reed Green Coliseum.
The Golden Eagles hit the hardwood at 7 a.m. Saturday and practiced for 2 1/2 hours. They returned at 5 p.m. for another 2-hour workout.
Johnson is glad to be back on the court after taking a medical redshirt season for a shoulder injury he suffered in high school. The 6-7, 230-pounder was highly-sought-after following a successful prep career at Hollandale Simmons, and his presence helps the Eagles immensely.
USM returns two starters from last season's team that struggled to a 10-17 record, and whose 4-12 record in Conference USA play kept them out of the conference tournament.
But Green thinks highly of his new crop of players, including Charles Gaines, a 6-7 junior transfer from Southwest Missouri State.
Junior guard Clement Carter is USM's top returning scorer, and he'll be asked to lead a more upbeat offense that hopes to improve on last season's 62.1-point scoring average.
The USM women followed the men on the floor for Saturday's morning session, then preceded them for a 3 p.m. afternoon practice.
Reeves will put a veteran team on the floor, led by 6-5 senior Sonja Brown, whose 101 blocks were second in the nation last season. The Lady Eagles will also benefit from the return to health of senior forward Jessica Woods, who missed all of last season with a knee injury.
The Lady Eagles also struggled last season, losing six of their last seven to finish 11-17 and 4-10. Injuries played a big role in USM's demise last year.
The Eagle men will scrimmage for the public next Saturday from 10:30 until noon. Both USM teams open the season on Nov. 22, the men at home against Alcorn State and the women at Hampton.