UTSA says guard Jhivvan Jackson must sit out two games

The UTSA men’s basketball program announced Tuesday that senior guard Jhivvan Jackson, the school’s career scoring leader, will sit out the first two games of the season.

Because of what has been described as ‘a violation of team rules,’ Jackson will not be with the team for the season opener at Oklahoma on Wednesday or for the home opener on Friday against UT Permian Basin.

He will be eligible to return Saturday when the Roadrunners play on the road at UT Rio Grande Valley.

Armed with an improved Jacob Germany, UTSA to open at OU

Jacob Germany. UAB beat UTSA in CUSA on Thursday. - photo by Joe Alexander

Expectations are high for sophomore center Jacob Germany as UTSA opens the season Wednesday night at the University of Oklahoma. — Photo by Joe Alexander.

Who says a kid from a small town in Oklahoma can’t learn how to become a man of the world?

Jacob Germany is doing just that after spending only one year in the UTSA basketball program.

Jacob Germany. Prarie View A&M beat UTSA 79-72 on Saturday night at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA fans remember Jacob Germany’s attacks at the rim last season. He averaged 5.5 points as a freshman – Photo by Joe Alexander

“One of my roommates (Erik Czumbel) is actually from Italy,” Germany told a television reporter over the summer. “He’s teaching me Italian on the low. That’s fun.

“It’s crazy to see the different cultures on the team and see how basketball can bring other cultures together.”

Not only is Germany growing as a person, he’s made significant strides on the hardwood, as well.
The 6-foot-11 sophomore from Kingston, Okla., is emerging as the type of impact player in college that was expected of him after leading his high school to the Class 3A state title in 2018-19.

“Jacob’s doing great,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “He gained some weight. Gained some muscle. You know, he’s so talented. It’s amazing the things he can do that look so easy.

Ja - photo by Joe Alexander

Germany entered high school at 6-foot-5 but kept on growing into a lanky, 6-11 frame. After a year at UTSA, he’s gained almost 20 pounds, up to 234. — Photo by Joe Alexander

“We’re just trying to get him to go harder, play with energy, fly around. He’s literally the fastest guy on the team, on turf, in 20-yard sprints. He’s an amazing athlete.

“We’re just trying to get him to play hard every single possession.”

The Roadrunners open the season Wednesday night in Germany’s home state, at the University of Oklahoma.

Fans at OU will see a different athlete than the one that led Kingston to a 28-2 record a few years ago.

He’s packed on about 20 pounds, which, along with the 31 games he played last year, has added an entirely different dimension to his game.

Adding more to his game

“With Jacob, the big thing for him is experience,” UTSA assistant Scott Thompson said. “You know, playing at our level last year was so important for him.”

Reports out of the weight room suggest that he has also emerged as one of the strongest players on the team.

“He’s a guy that’s benefited so much from coach (Christian) Wood’s strength program,” Thompson said. “His body continues to change. He’s been up to 234, I think, at one point. For his length and height, to be able to run and move like he does, you know, is unbelievable.

“This offseason, he spent a lot of time working on his ball skills. I think you’re going to see him score a lot more in the paint. Facing up at 10 and 12 feet, he’s shooting his jumper so much more consistently.”

Germany averaged 5.5 points and 4.5 rebounds last season, but he showed last week that he is capable of more, contributing 24 points in an intra-squad scrimmage at UTSA.

“The game is so easy for him,” UTSA forward Adrian Rodriguez said. “He’s so big, so athletic, all you have to do is throw it up (for him). When he jumps, there’s not much else anybody can do.”

Becoming a prep star

Kingston coach Taylor Wiebener said it was “a lot of fun” to coach Germany in high school.

“To be able to put a 6-10 or 6-11 guy on the floor, you know, there’s not a lot of high schools around here able to do that,” he said Monday in a telephone interview. “Throw on top of that, (that) Jacob is very skilled for a big man (and) he moves around so well. So, that was kind of icing on the cake.

“We felt good having him on the floor, just protecting the rim, and (scoring), as well. I mean, Jacob was fun to coach.

“Early in his career, I made it basically my mission to try to make him tougher, because he had the tools … But,the one thing he was going to have to have, was some toughness.”

Basically, Wiebener tried to get maximum effort out of his lanky center.

‘In the gym constantly’

“That was kind of our goal,” Wiebener said. “He took care of a lot of the fundamental skills on his own. He was a gym rat. I mean, he was in the gym constantly, working on things. So that part, we didn’t have to worry about.”

Initially, Wiebener didn’t know what he had in Germany, who was about 6-foot-5 as a high school freshman.

“Honestly, he was a little awkward,” Wiebener said. “Like, eighth and ninth grade, he was tall (and) real skinny. Kind of awkward. So I said, ‘He’s fixing to stop growing pretty quick.’ But, every summer … I wouldn’t see him, (and when) he’d come back, it seemed like he’d grown another 2-3 inches.

“By the time he graduated, he was a legit 6-10 or 6-11.”

Coaching Germany at the high school level was an adventure in terms of trying to get him to add weight, Wiebener said.

“I remember his sophomore or junior year, we had been on him about it,” the coach said. “I told him, ‘Your dad is a chef. You’re the only kid I know that, your dad’s a chef, and you’re as skinny as you are.’ Once he hit that 200-pound mark, that was kind of a milestone for us.”

Winning a state title

As a junior, Germany used the added strength in leading Kingston to the state finals.

He also saw his name rise on the prospect lists. As a senior, Germany paced his team all the way to the title, producing 21 points and 12 rebounds in the 3A championship game.

Another challenge for him as he entered college last year came in adjusting to the speed of the game.

Because the Roadrunners play at a tempo that is rated as one of the fastest in NCAA Division I, Henson’s players need to have the ability to run well and run hard for sustained periods of time.

By the end of last season, Germany was picking it up on that front. He had gained a better feel for everything, really, and as a result, he was able to move into UTSA’s starting lineup.

Now, he wants to take another step as he starts his sophomore year.

“All around, really, I’ve been putting on some weight,” he said Monday on a Zoom conference call. “I’ve been working on my motor. Going (hard) all the time. Not taking plays off. Just being that energetic guy that the coaches want me to be.

“That’s really where I’ve stepped up.”

Growing as a person

Asked how his Italian language skills are coming along, he shrugged and said he’s made “very little” progress along those lines.

“It’s probably words I can’t say on camera,” Germany said, smiling.

During the offseason, Germany said he worked out at a gym at his church back home in Kingston, a town of about 1,700 people nestled near Lake Texoma, just to the north of the Red River in southern Oklahoma.

He worked on some moves on the court, but, mainly, he said he worked on his mental game.

“It was hard being a freshman and everyone expected me to do all this stuff,” he said. “Especially being from a small town, coming to this big, big city … Especially coming from a small school where there’s not so much competition.

“There was a lot of pressure on me last year. If I did anything bad, I would get really mad. I wouldn’t necessarily show it. But, like, I had real bad anger issues. Over quarantine I was able to grow mentally and mature a little bit.”

Earning a starting job

Germany, who started 10 games at the end of last season, is expected to start in the post for the Roadrunners against the Sooners.

Alongside Germany, the others in the first five are expected to include Cedrick Alley Jr. at a forward position, plus Jhivvan Jackson, Keaton Wallace and Eric Parrish at guards.

Jackson and Wallace formed the highest-scoring backcourt duo in the nation last year. Parrish and Alley are transfers playing in their first games for UTSA.

Henson said Germany has been “really, really good” in preseason workouts.

“Our expectations of him are so high, higher than he has of himself, even,” Henson said. “Every now and then, we’ll think, ‘He didn’t have the greatest practice.’ And then we’ll look and (we ask), ‘What did he look like a year ago? (The difference) is phenomenal, (in) the improvement he’s made.

“So, the sky’s the limit for him. He’s just barely scratching his potential.”

UTSA opens 40th season with three games next week

The UTSA Roadrunners open their 40th season in men’s basketball with three games next week, according to the schedule.

They play on Wednesday night at the University of Oklahoma and then return for a home opener against UT Permian Basin on Friday at 3 p.m. On Saturday, the Roadrunners will cap the week with a game at Edinburg against UT Rio Grande Valley.

Please click on the link for a revised schedule, including a Conference USA slate that starts Jan. 1-2 in Houston against Rice.

After the university opened its doors in the 1970s, UTSA played its first season in intercollegiate athletics in 1981-82. Initially, the Roadrunners were NCAA Division I independent before joining Division I conferences in the Trans America Athletic Conference and later the Southland Conference.

They’ve been members of the C-USA since 2013-14.

UTSA forward Adrian Rodriguez is set for an expanded role

Adrian Rodriguez. Oklahoma beat UTSA 87-67 on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Forward Adrian Rodriguez (No. 15) says he feels like the UTSA Roadrunners ‘are taking the right steps’ in preseason practices to become a winning team. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Several months ago, UTSA forward Adrian Rodriguez approached Steve Henson with a proposition. He told the Roadrunners’ fifth-year head coach that he wanted to lose some weight in attempt to maximize his physical conditioning for the upcoming college basketball season.

Rodriguez emphasized that if he ever failed to live up to his daily resolve, he wanted Henson to step in, to remind him of the promise he made. The pact seems to be paying dividends. With the season-opener scheduled for Wednesday night at Oklahoma, UTSA has a much-improved, front-court player on its hands.

Trimmed down to 240 pounds on a 6-foot-7 frame, he is feeling good, and moving well.

“Adrian Rodriguez has shown real, real positive signs in the … last five, six weeks,” Henson said. “He’s in probably the best shape of his life. Or, since he’s been here, post injury. He’s been really, really good, noticeably different with his conditioning, with his mindset.

“So we anticipate him playing quite a bit … We’ve been really, really pleased with him.”

Steve Henson. UTSA beat UTEP 86-70 on Saturday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Steve Henson says Adrian Rodriguez’s commitment to offseason conditioning has paid dividends. – Photo by Joe Alexander

In a telephone interview on Thursday morning, the UTSA redshirt junior from Tulsa (Okla.) Union High School talked about his humble roots as a player, about his high hopes for the team and about the genesis of his heart-to-heart talk with Henson.

“At some point at the beginning of summer,” Rodriguez said, “after (the start of) the quarantine, I just felt like I had to do something different. You know? Like, the first three years, (with) the injuries and things like that, it didn’t really go my way. I just felt like I had to do something different.

“So, I made it a point to lose weight and improve on the physical aspect. And so, I went in and talked to (the coach) to make sure he held me accountable, that I didn’t fall off.”

In some ways, UTSA fans haven’t seen the real Rodriguez yet even though he has been on the team for three years.

Rodriguez, a former all-state player in high school, hasn’t made many headlines at UTSA to this point. He has yet to show up on many highlight reels. To this point, he’s known mostly for his hard luck.

In 2017, Rodriguez blew out his knee in his first college game and was lost for the season. In the past two years, he has enjoyed his moments as an aggressive defensive player in the post. But he has come off the bench primarily, averaging 8.7 minutes and 11.4 minutes, respectively.

As dawn breaks on a new season, however, his frustrating nights on the bench could be coming to an end. Assistant coach Scott Thompson echoed Henson, predicting “a big role” for the player if he continues to work for it.

“The reason we went after Adrian so hard after we got the job (here) was because of his (high) IQ and feel for the game,” Thompson said. “He’s an incredible teammate. He’s a winner. You know, that knee injury for him was devastating for his career.

Getting in ‘peak condition’

“He’s just had to work really hard to get his conditioning back, and that’s always been the big thing with him. Being under-sized, as a front line guy, you just have to be in peak condition, and he’s worked hard to get back into shape.”

In the past few years, Rodriguez’s emotional fire has been evident. At practices, he will get so wrapped up in five-on-five drills that he sometimes shouts and slams his hands on the floor after a defensive stop.

In practices and in games, Rodriguez is always talking, trying to communicate to help his teammates. He’s sort of like former University of Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler, Thompson said. When OU reached the NCAA Final Four in 2015-16, Lon Kruger was the head coach and Buddy Hield was the scoring machine.

Henson and Thompson were on the Sooners’ staff, just before they both came to UTSA.

Adrian Rodriguez. Oklahoma beat UTSA 87-67 on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Rodriguez averaged 11.4 minutes in 23 games last year. A screener on offense and a defensive specialist, he produced 1.7 points and 3.3 rebounds.

“The guy on that that team that didn’t get the credit he deserved was Ryan Spangler,” Thompson said. “He was our four-five man who kind of anchored our defense. Adrian kind of has that same feel. He’s able to call out actions … you know, to communicate to guys on how to guard ball screens.

“He’s advanced in his basketball IQ … He doesn’t need a ton of reps (with starters), and he picks up things very quickly.”

Born in El Paso to parents who grew up in Mexico, Rodriguez lived in Texas for awhile, moved to Colorado and then moved on to Tulsa when he was in fourth grade. He said he didn’t really follow basketball, let alone play it, until his eighth-grade year.

“And that was only because my brother played on varsity,” he said. “That year, I was horrible.”

Given his limitations, Rodriguez did start to show some resolve in learning the game. He started to pick the brain of his father, Abel Rodriguez, who once played collegiately in Mexico and for Mexico’s 19-and-under program.

Family roots in Mexico

“My dad used to play, back in his day, and he was always into the little things (in the game),” Adrian Rodriguez said. “Like, setting good screens. Setting screens, rolling and talking. He wasn’t the most skilled guy. But he was always on the floor because he would do everything right. With effort plays, things like that.

“So from the very beginning, everything I learned was (how) to do the little things.”

Pretty soon, the little things turned into big things.

Under coach Rudy Garcia, Rodriguez played on a high school team at Tulsa Union that won state when he was a freshman and then added regional titles every other year. As a senior, he was all-state while averaging 14.1 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.6 blocks.

Now at UTSA, he’s getting ready to embark on his fourth season with the Roadrunners, all while making strides toward a degree in mechanical engineering. He’s got a 3.0 grade-point average and seems to be well on his way.

Sometimes, he wonders how it all happened.

‘How did I get here?’

“I have a little saying, like, ‘How did I get here?’ ” he said. “It’s all crazy. Until my junior year (in high school) I didn’t even think I was going to be able to play (in college). From that mindset to where I am now, it’s crazy.”

In his injury-scarred first season at UTSA, the Roadrunners won 20 games. In his second year, they won 17. Both seasons, UTSA finished 11-7 in Conference USA, competing with and beating some of the best teams in the league. Last year, the Roadrunners suffered a fall, with the team finishing 13-19 overall and 7-11.

Despite the pandemic, preseason workouts in the past few months have been productive, Rodriguez said, and an attitude adjustment may hold the key to it all.

“I think we look really good right now,” he said. “The chemistry is there. It seems like everybody is setting their egos aside and really playing for one thing, and that’s to win. Last year we had a chance to be really good and it didn’t go our way. I think this year, we’re taking the right steps to get where we need to be.”

In terms of his own situation, Rodriguez said it’s encouraging to hear that the head coach has noticed how hard he has worked personally to make it happen.

“It re-assures me that what I’ve done is the right thing,” he said. “I believe everything (in offseason conditioning) that I’ve been doing is not to benefit me — but to help the team. So if he sees that improvement, then, to me, it means we’re (on track) to win. And so, that’s the best part, for me.”

Efforts to improve defensively dominated UTSA’s offseason

Steve Henson. UTSA lost to Middle Tennessee on Saturday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Steve Henson says he likes the way his players have embraced a commitment to improved play on the defensive end. – Photo by Joe Alexander

A year ago, optimism soared among followers of the UTSA basketball program. Coming off two straight winning seasons, and with a high-scoring backcourt duo returning, the Roadrunners were picked to finish second in Conference USA.

For a variety of reasons, the season didn’t work out the way the pundits thought it might, and it didn’t come close to what Coach Steve Henson wanted.

UTSA finished 13-19 overall and 7-11 in the C-USA. The Roadrunners, seeded 10th in the conference’s postseason tournament, lost on opening night in Frisco to the UAB Blazers.

On Tuesday morning, eight days before the season opener at Oklahoma, Henson reflected in a telephone interview on what went wrong last winter and what the program has done to address the shortcomings going into his fifth season on campus.

“Certainly the initial response, and the most glaring area, was the defensive end,” he said. “We talked about that in the post-game on many nights (last year).

“We just didn’t get where we needed to on the defensive end. We didn’t defend at a level high enough to win enough ball games. So, that was the talk — that was all the talk in the offseason.

“It was, ‘How do we change that? How do we change our approach?’ Certainly it starts with me and having more focus and more emphasis, more time (devoted to it) in our early workouts, and we’ve done that,” Henson said.

Led again on the offensive end by Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace, the Roadrunners will employ some new personnel to the rotation in hopes of improving on a defense that ranked in the lower half of C-USA in field goal and three-point percentage allowed.

“I think we’ve got a group that’ll be more committed on that end,” Henson said “They want to make improvements on that end of the floor, and they understand that we can’t reach our goals unless we defend at a high level.”

The Roadrunners are looking to a pair of transfers, Cedrick Alley, Jr. and Eric Parrish, to help make up for the loss of Byron Frohnen and Atem Bior. Both will play roles in the positions of small and power forward, Henson said.

In the C-USA’s latest preseason poll, the Roadrunners are pegged for ninth place. Quite a snub for a program that won 20 games in 2016-17 and 17 in 2017-18. Both years, the Roadrunners finished 11-7 in conference.

So far this fall, Henson said he likes what he has seen from his players, in terms of embracing the defensive mindset.

“Oh, very much so,” he said. “We’ve added some new faces and we think that will help. More importantly, it’s our … commitment and our focus.

“Again, that starts with me and our coaches, just making sure that that’s the priority. We’ve got talented guys offensively, and we assume we’ll be able to put the ball in the hole.

“Now, we weren’t great offensively. I don’t think we were anywhere near we needed to be offensively, either. But all the talk has been defense — (how to avoid) the breakdowns, how to simplify things schematically on the defensive end, mindset, effort.

“All those things go into it.”

.

UTSA home game attendance capped at 15 percent of capacity

UTSA freshman Jacob Germany throws down a dunk on Wednesday, Oct. 30. 2019 at the UTSA Convocation Center. The Roadrunners beat Texas A&M International 89-60 in an exhibition game. - photo by Joe Alexander

The UTSA men are scheduled to open at home on Dec. 4. High-flying center Jacob Germany will return for his sophomore year. – photo by Joe Alexander

Announcing safety precautions related to the pandemic, UTSA athletics on Friday notified fans that attendance for home basketball games at the Convocation Center this season will capped at 612, or, 15 percent of capacity.

According to a release, no courtside or East side floor-level seats will be available for purchase this season.

The UTSA women’s basketball team will open its home schedule on Nov. 25, against Sul Ross State. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.

The men are scheduled to open on the road on Nov. 25 at Oklahoma. The home opener for the Roadrunners is set for Dec. 4, against an opponent to be determined.

According to a UTSA news release, the plan for home basketball games follows all state and local health directives and focuses on risk mitigation strategies that promote the safety of student-athletes and fans.

Since the situation remains fluid and continues to evolve, the plan is subject to change based on emerging information as well as local and state health developments.

Notable

In the 40th season of UTSA basketball, both the UTSA women and men are picked to finish low in the 14-team Conference USA standings.

The women are picked 13th and the men are pegged for ninth.

Both teams open C-USA play against Rice. The Roadrunners women host the Owls for a two-game set on Jan. 1 and Jan. 2. The men will play Rice at Houston, also on Jan. 1 and Jan. 2.

UTSA’s 18-game, C-USA schedule starts with two at Rice

The 40th season of UTSA men’s basketball is expected to open on Nov. 25. The non-conference phase of the schedule hasn’t been announced. But, here is the Conference USA phase according to information released Monday:

December

31 — at Rice

January

2 — at Rice

7 — North Texas

9 — North Texas

14 — at Louisiana Tech

16 — at Louisiana Tech

21 — Southern Miss

23 — Southern Miss

28 — UTEP

30 — at UTEP

February

4 — at Florida International

6 — at Florida International

11 — Florida Atlantic

13 — Florida Atlantic

18 — at Charlotte

20 — at Charlotte

25 — Alabama-Birmingham

27 — Alabama-Birmingham

Note

According to UTSA, “the goal is to significantly reduce the amount of travel during conference play, with an aim to minimize the risks associated with COVID-19. Additionally, the final week of the season could be utilized to re-schedule any postponed games.”

A 12-team C-USA tournament will be played at The Star in Frisco for the fourth year in a row.

March

10 — Conference USA tournament, at Frisco

11 — Conference USA tournament, at Frisco

12 — Conference USA tournament, at Frisco

13 — Conference USA tournament, at Frisco

16/17 — NCAA tournament First Four, at Dayton, Ohio

18/19 — NCAA tournament first round

UTSA’s Jhivvan Jackson: ‘We’re just happy to be back, really’

UTSA's Jhivvan Jackson broke the Roadrunners' all-time season and career scoring records during his junior year. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson led Conference USA and ranked second in the nation in scoring last year with 26.8 points per game. Jackson is from Bayamon, Puerto Rico. – Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA players report to practice and fill out paperwork. They have their temperature checked before they can even enter the Convocation Center. They aren’t allowed to linger in groups in the locker rooms.

They’re told to wear masks during workouts.

It’s all a part of their new life as college basketball athletes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite all the tedious restrictions, the Roadrunners expressed excitement about the start of official workouts. The first few days have been “really good,” high-scoring guard Jhivvan Jackson told reporters Wednesday.

“We’re just happy to be back, really,” he said. “You know, (we’re) full-out scrimmaging, stuff like that. We’re really working on our defense … Everything’s been good. It’s really intense. But we’ve been taking care of each other, staying healthy and just, really hooping.”

Last March, UTSA finished its third season featuring the explosive duo of Jackson and Keaton Wallace with a record of 13-19, including 7-11 in Conference USA play. In the C-USA tournament, they were bounced out on the first day, 74-69, by the UAB Blazers.

The keys to improvement likely will revolve around a few different things:

First, whether the Roadrunners can learn to defend at higher level. Next, whether they can compete effectively on the boards after losing Byron Frohnen to graduation. Also, whether coaches can find a third- and perhaps a fourth-scoring option to take pressure off Jackson and Wallace.

Fifth-year head coach Steve Henson doesn’t have all the answers yet. But he does know that the team is in good shape physically.

The preseason, he said, was different because of the new health protocols. But adjustments to rules on workouts also allowed for ample time to get the players ready physically for a season that is expected to start on Nov. 25.

Steve Henson. UTSA beat UTEP 86-70 on Saturday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Steve Henson enters his fifth season as head coach of the UTSA Roadrunners. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“We’ve been in the gym a lot,” Henson said. “Right now it’s just a question of, ‘Can we continue to do what we need to do, string together practices, and prepare for that first game.’ Hopefully we can pull off that first game.”

Henson said he is also working on the team’s mental approach. It may be an extremely stressful year in that, based on what has happened in football, athletes could be available to play one day and then unavailable the next.

The schedule, which has not been finalized but could be within a few days, may also be subject to change on short notice.

“We don’t spend a lot of time talking about what’s going to happen down the road,” Henson said. “But we do talk about how things aren’t going to be fair. We anticipate we’re going to play somebody, and we may have somebody out. (Or) they may have somebody out.

“(Or, the) schedule’s going to get shifted. We understand that. But I think that’s so far down the road for our players, I think they’re just getting ready for practice No. 4.”

Roster

Cedrick Alley Jr. F 6-6 225 Jr. Transfer from Houston
Jaja Sanni G-F 6-4 170 Fr. Houston Clear Lake HS
Jhivvan Jackson G 6-0 170 Sr. Bayamon, Puerto Rico
Jordan Ivy-Curry G 6-2 165 Fr. La Marque HS
Erik Czumbel G 6-3 185 Soph. Verona, Italy
Lachlan Bofinger F 6-6 215 Fr. Sydney, Australia
Phoenix Ford F 6-8 230 RS-Jr. St. Petersburg, Fla.
Eric Parrish G-F 6-6 195 Sr. Transfer from Nevada
Keaton Wallace G 6-3 185 Sr. Richardson HS
Jacob Germany C 6-11 220 Soph. Kingston, Okla.
Adrian Rodriguez F 6-7 245 RS-Jr. Tulsa, Okla.
Luka Barisic F 6-10 240 Sr. Osijek, Croatia

Coaching staff

Steve Henson, head coach (64-68, 5th year); Mike Peck, associate head coach; Scott Thompson, assistant coach; Adam Hood, assistant coach; Christian Wood, strength and conditioning; Jeff Luster, director of operations; Josh Modica, athletic trainer; Cale Brubaker, video coordinator; Taylor Luster, graduate assistant.

Conference USA aims for reduced travel in basketball schedules

Conference USA on Wednesday announced the framework for its men’s and women’s basketball schedules for the coming season.

According to a news release:

“This season, the league will move to a new 18-game regular season format for conference play that focuses on the health and safety of student-athletes. In this format, schools will play two games per visit at four select C-USA schools and host four select teams for a two-game series, while playing a rival opponent one time home and away.

“Moving to this schedule format will significantly reduce the amount of travel during conference play, with the aim of minimizing the risks associated with COVID-19. Additionally, the final week of the regular season may be utilized to re-schedule any postponed games.

“The Championship format will return to its familiar 12-team field that it has utilized for the past several seasons. The top 12 regular season finishers in conference play will qualify for the Championship.

“The 2021 C-USA Basketball Championships presented by the Baylor, Scott & White Sports Performance Center at The Star are scheduled for March 10-13 in Frisco, Texas. This will be the fourth year that the event will be held in Frisco.

“Regular season Conference play for both men’s and women’s basketball is scheduled to begin on December 31.”

One-site World Series set for Globe Life Field in Arlington

Major League Baseball on Tuesday unveiled a 16-team playoff bracket featuring four rounds of playoffs, including single-sites for the final three rounds, including the World Series.

The playoffs will open on Sept. 29, MLB announced. The World Series will be played in its entirety in Arlington at Globe Life Field, starting on Oct. 20.

Reports have been circulating for the past two days that fans might be allowed inside the stadiums on a limited basis for the final two rounds.

The American and National leagues will both send eight teams into the postseason, with first- and second-place teams in each of MLB’s six divisions guaranteed automatic berths.

Outside of the guaranteed slots from each division, two more teams from the AL and another two from the NL will make the playoffs.

All games in a best-of-three, Wild-Card round will be played at the home park of top four seeds in each league, according to a news release from MLB.

After that, games will shift to neutral sites “due to health, safety and competitive considerations.”

Each of four division series are best of five.

AL Division Series games are set for Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and Petco Park in San Diego, with NLDS games scheduled for Minute Maid Park in Houston and Globe Life Field in Arlington.

After the divisional round, all series are best of seven.

The ALCS will be played at San Diego’s Petco Park, while the NLCS and the World Series will be played at Globe Life, the home of the Texas Rangers.

With the Rangers at 17-30 on the season leading into tonight’s series opener at Houston, it’s highly unlikely that they will make the playoffs.

It’s the first time in 76 years that baseball has held the World Series at one site, according to the Associated Press.

The World Series was last played at one site in 1944 at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, where the Cardinals beat the Browns 4 games to 2, the AP reported.

A young man by the name of Stan Musial, age 23 at the time, aided the Cardinals in the series victory with a .304 batting average. One of Musial’s teammates was Debs Garms, who played in the minor leagues for the Missions in 1935 and 1936.

The AP also reported that New York’s Polo Grounds hosted all the games in 1921 and 1922, in the last two seasons that it was the home of both the New York Giants and Yankees. The Giants won both titles.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday told reporters that fans potentially could be allowed to attend the ALCS, the NLCS and the World Series games, but likely with reduced capacity.

To this point in a season shortened to 60 regular-season games by the coronavirus pandemic, fans have not been allowed in major league ball parks.

Entry into the stadiums has been restricted to players, coaches, essential stadium staff and media.