Dec. 8, 2005
It's always good to be home, especially when your basketball team has played all of its regular season games on someone else's court.
Such has been the case of the Lipscomb Bisons who play their first regular home game of the season Thursday night at 7 against Jackson State at Allen Arena. This week features back-to-back home games with Liberty University visiting Saturday afternoon at 1.
"I'm tickled pink to be home," said Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson. "We have played four road games and one neutral game. The teams in our league play a lot of road games in November and December."
Both of these are non-conference games, but setting a winning tone at home early is important. The Bisons have played a pair of exhibition games at Allen Arena, beating North Alabama and Freed-Hardeman.
"We had a very good home record last season and won a lot of league games at home down the stretch," said Sanderson. "In our league you have to win your homes games, even the non-conference ones. You have to get your team to a place where they feel like they are supposed to win at home."
Both games are going to be challenges. Both Jackson State and Liberty are athletic teams that depend on their guard play. Jackson State is 205 and Liberty is 2-4, but don't let the records deceive you.
"Jackson State is really good," said Sanderson. "They have played an awfully difficult schedule with teams like Oklahoma State, TCU and Memphis."
The player the Bisons will have to control is junior guard Clinton "Trey" Johnson, averaging 22 points per game. Jackson State lost 69-53 at St. Louis Monday night with Johnson scoring a game-high 19 points.
"They call him Trey because of all the 3-point shots he makes," said Sanderson. "We won't play a better player this year. As a team they are very long, very athletic and very quick. They will be pressuring us on defense. We're going to have to be very good on defense and take care of the ball. It is going to be a great test for us."
Liberty also offers athleticism and quickness, but in a much bigger package. Point guard Damien Hubbard is 6-foot-6. Starting center Russell Monroe, a sophomore, is 6-11, Sophomore forward Rell Porter, the leading rebounder with 6.8 per game, is 6-7.
Junior guard Larry Blair, averaging 22 points per game is one of the smallest players on the team at 6-1. He is coming off a 30-point performance Tuesday night in a 66-53 loss to Buffalo.
"Liberty is a very good, athletic team with really big guards," said Sanderson. "They are a young team with a lot of freshmen and sophomores.
"Blair has pro potential," said Sanderson. "He has the ability to score and he is a very good defender.
Sanderson hopes the return to their home court will help the Bisons shooting percentage. They have struggled to score this season, hitting 38.8 percent from the field as a team. Only sophomore forward Eddie Ard (14.4 ppg) and senior point guard James Poindexter (10 ppg) are averaging in double figures.
"We have to start shooting the ball better," said Sanderson. "If we can do that and continue to build on our defense and rebounding we will be O.K."
Sanderson is at a loss to explain why the Bisons have not been able to find the basket on a consistent basis.
"We are getting good looks and we are taking good shots," said Sanderson. "We're just not hitting them. When we aren't scoring we have to play flawless in all other areas of the game."