After winning 17 and then 18 games
in his first two seasons, last year's 14-15 season was a bit of
a disappointment for Steve Shields and UALR. But with some
talented players back, the Trojans could once again be in the
Sun Belt title hunt.
Shawn Siegel (CHN): What
will the strengths and weaknesses of
this year’s team to be?
I would expect that rebounding will be one of our strengths this
year, anchored by Rashad Jones-Jennings. I also think team
chemistry will be one of our strong points. We have a lot of
team-first players and good character guys this year. Our team
is also very versatile. We have a lot of guys who can fill
different positions on the floor, and I really like that about
our team. In regards to weaknesses, I wouldn’t call it a
weakness but I would say that we are concerned about our point
guard play. Buddy Harding played 20 minutes a game last year, so
he has experience at the point. We’ll need Buddy, Steven Moore
or Corey Johnson to step up and establish himself as our
starting point guard.
CHN: Talk about one or two of your guys that stands out
as being an unheralded leader and contributor?
Obviously, you have to talk about Rashad Jones-Jennings when you
talk about our team. He averaged a double-double last year and
has set himself apart as a leader. He has had an excellent
offseason. Another guy who has established himself is senior
Byron Ray, who's had a great summer working out with our
strength coach. Last year, De'Andre Eggins was the first true
freshman to start for us in the six years I have been here. His
maturity extends well beyond his years. Lekheythan Malone was
the Sun Belt Freshman of the Year last season, and is a guy
whose motor is always running. Effort is never going to be an
issue with Lekheythan, we just need to make sure to channel it
in the right direction.
CHN: Who should we expect to step up to replace departed
senior Elijah Muldrow?
SS: Elijah Muldrow was the only senior on last year’s
team. Rashad, Byron, Lekheythan and De’Andre are the main guys
we will look to fill his shoes from a leadership standpoint.
CHN: What should
we expect out of the incoming players. Who will make the biggest impact?
Rashad Moss is
coming in with really high expectations, as are Corey Johnson
and Steven Moore. Steven has what I think could be the best feet
of any guard we've had here. He is a guy that can fly with the
basketball. Corey and Rashad both have the ability to play
multiple spots. Corey is a combo guard who gives us flexibility,
and is a versatile player who also shoots the ball well. He's
also an outstanding young man, having won the CAB Award the past
two seasons at Aiken for character, academics and basketball.
Rashad has proven to be an extremely effective scorer at the
junior college level. He's also a very versatile player, who can
score facing the basket and can also get to the foul line while
shooting a high percentage.
CHN: How does this year's schedule compare
to recent seasons in terms of difficulty?
This year's non-conference schedule will once again challenge
our basketball team in preparation for Sun Belt Conference play.
Playing at Texas A&M, Minnesota, and in the CBE Classic will
present an obvious challenge for our guys. We always try to
challenge our guys on the road early. Over the last three years
it has helped us go 10-10 on the road in conference games. A big
part of that has been our non-conference schedule.
CHN: Are you pretty well settled with your starting
lineup? If not, what should be the biggest battle for a starting
Absolutely not. I think there is going to be an enormous amount
of competition at every position. We'll have a lot of
competition for playing time. No one’s starting spot is secure
at this point. We’ve got about three guys fighting for time at
CHN: Good luck coach.
Coach Shields will be serving
as Chairman of the North Little Rock Boy’s and Girl’s Club golf
tournament on Sept. 18. The team currently makes
bi-monthly visits to the Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
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