Cleared to practice, Germany has returned for the Roadrunners

UTSA center Jacob Germany is practicing again and rounding back into form after a week-long pause to determine the cause of what was described as “discomfort” in his chest.

The 6-foot-11 Germany sat out all three of the team’s workouts last week. He missed another one on Monday as the Roadrunners ramped up intensity and officially started their fall preseason camp.

By Tuesday, Germany had been cleared, allowing him to participate both Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. He joined his friends on the court both days for workouts that lasted close to three hours each.

“Everything was fine, so he jumped right back into it,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “On Tuesday you could tell he had missed it just from a conditioning standpoint. It didn’t look like he missed anything other than that. He was fine today.”

Henson said there had been no concerns expressed by physicians after examining test results other than “maybe something lingering in the lungs” from a previous infection.

“Which is why maybe he just felt something and didn’t feel right,” Henson said. “But all the tests came back looking good.”

Henson said the episode was stressful for Germany, the Roadrunners’ top returning player.

“I was pretty confident we’d get some good news, and we did, and the other positive thing is, he didn’t miss much time,” the coach said. “You know, last year, he had some tests done and it just dragged on and (we) struggled to get that clearance.”

This time, Germany has returned in fairly short order, and Henson said he appreciates the medical staff “taking care of him” and getting him back on the court.

In the meantime, the team has been making progress. As one of UTSA’s assistants said earlier this week, “we’re just playing better basketball.” Henson said players were “really fired up on Monday,” with “terrific” effort.

“Same thing on Tuesday,” he said. “I was pleased both days we were able to sustain our level (of intensity). The fatigue didn’t become real obvious to us, which it can. I was very pleased with our conditioning level. I knew they’d be excited.”

While Germany watched from the side, 6-9 sophomore Josh Farmer and 6-9 freshman Massal Diouf stepped into the breach and took advantage of the additional time on the floor.

Henson said Farmer looked particularly good on Monday. As for Diouf, a true freshman from The Netherlands, “every chance we have to get quality reps for him is good.”

On Tuesday, the coach said players on defense generally played better than the offense, but on Thursday the players flipped the script with a few new offensive wrinkles added.

“The team defending (the scheme) didn’t know exactly what was coming … and it looked a little better,” he said. “We got some clean looks.”

Roadrunners display ‘great energy’ in opening workout

Josh Farmer at the first official UTSA men's basketball practice of the season on Sept. 26, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Sophomore Josh Farmer continued to practice well as the UTSA Roadrunners opened full-session, preseason drills Monday afternoon. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Hoping to rebound from last year’s season of discontent, the UTSA men’s basketball team engaged in an intense 2 and 1/2-hour practice Monday afternoon on the first day of full-session, preseason drills.

“I was not surprised that they came with great energy and excitement,” Coach Steve Henson said. “I was hoping (they) would. We’ve been together a lot. All but one (of the scholarship) players were here this summer.

Jacob Germany at the first official UTSA men's basketball practice of the season on Sept. 26, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Center Jacob Germany, the team’s leading scorer last year, sat out the practice as he awaits medical clearance. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“(We) had a great summer,” Henson said. “Had four great weeks this fall. You always want your first official practice to have a different excitement level to it, and I think it did. They came in and played with great energy.”

Sitting out the practice were 6-11 senior Jacob Germany and 7-foot transfer Carlton Linguard, Jr. Linguard’s absence was expected. He’s been working back slowly from a left knee injury since he arrived on campus. With Germany, a medical issue surfaced last week.

After experiencing what was described as “discomfort” in his chest, the UTSA center sat out at least two practices last week. UTSA still hasn’t heard from a doctor on the results of tests conducted last Friday.

“He got the tests done late last week,” Henson said. “We’re still waiting. As soon as the doc gets a look at the results, we’ll have an answer. We were hoping to have that this morning. Just didn’t have it.

“Now we’re hoping for tomorrow. If we can get that, we’re hoping he can practice tomorrow, if everything goes well.”

Henson said he is optimistic about a positive outcome. Germany, who averaged 15.2 points and 7.3 rebounds last year, said he’s taking it “day by day” and hoping for a return in the next few days.

Steve Henson at the first official UTSA men's basketball practice of the season on Sept. 26, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Coach Steve Henson said he liked the energy on the team’s first ‘official’ practice of the preseason. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“I’m feeling good and healthy so I’m hoping sometime this week,” Germany said. “But you never know. It’s in God’s hands.”

Asked his level of concern, Germany was philosophical.

“Oh, it’s all part of the plan,” he said. “So I’m not concerned at all, whatever happens to me. We’ve got a great training staff here. The coaches are always in contact with them. We’re close to UT Health. All these factors are really good, so I’m not too concerned.”

In keeping with a trend from the last few weeks, a trio of players including Josh Farmer, Lamin Sabally and Aleu Aleu enjoyed strong practices.

Combined with continued steady play from backcourt newcomers Japhet Medor and John Buggs III, the Roadrunners looked as if they might have some potential — even though it’s extremely early — to bounce back from last year’s 10-22 record.

A lot, naturally, will depend on Germany’s status.

Also, Linguard is a key. When the Kansas State transfer from Stevens High School in San Antonio gets healthy, he can begin practice. To play, he’ll need clearance on an academics-related matter from the NCAA.

If all that happens, the Roadrunners could have the makings of a front line that could cause problems for a lot of the teams on their schedule.

A front line contingent that potentially could go 7-feet (Linguard), 6-11 (Germany), 6-9 (Farmer), 6-9 (Massal Diouf), 6-8 (Aleu) and 6-7 (Sabally) is intriguing.

“We could have a huge front line out there that could really help us,” Germany said.

Since June, the returning players and newcomers have worked out on most days for an hour or so. It was all tied to an NCAA rule restricting players’ time spent with coaches and staff to eight hours a week.

But from now until the start of the season in November, the Roadrunners will be allowed to work out for 20 hours a week, which will in turn translate to some long afternoons in the gym.

The increased workload in the first “official” practice of the new season didn’t seem to faze the players.

Players were hustling non-stop in drills that stretched from 3:00 – 5:30 p.m.

Henson said Farmer, a sophomore from Houston, enjoyed a big day on Monday. He was active on the boards, switched to guard players driving to the rim and generated some offense, as well.

Near the end of the session, he deflected a pass, gathered it in, and raced for a layup. Soon thereafter, Farmer hit a three pointer.

“Today, Josh really stood out,” Henson said. “He got a ton of reps because we were short-handed. So, Josh was terrific. I was most proud of him early in the practice. He missed a couple of threes, but then he went down and redeemed himself on the defensive end.

“He was flying around, blocking shots.”

Monday’s video highlights

Josh Farmer

Aleu Aleu

Lamin Sabally

UTSA’s Germany remains questionable for next week pending test results

UTSA center Jacob Germany remains questionable for next week’s first full-session, preseason practices pending results of medical tests, Roadrunners coach Steve Henson said Friday.

“Jacob’s just having some precautionary tests,” Henson said. “He got checked out this morning. Hoping to get the doctor to look at the results as soon as possible. Obviously we’d like to have that happen today. But I can’t guarantee it will.

“If not, hopefully (by) Monday morning. We’re as anxious to find out his status as anybody else because we start practice Monday (afternoon). So, that’s really all I have.”

Germany, a 6-foot-11 senior, sat out UTSA practices on Tuesday and Thursday. Henson characterized the setback as an illness, but he didn’t elaborate, saying only that it’s not believed to be Covid-related.

“He’s doing OK,” the coach said. “We just got to run some tests.”

Germany’s health question comes just as the Roadrunners prepare to ramp up preparation for the coming season.

Since the start of the fall semester in late August, players were on an eight-hour per week regimen, mixing weights and court time. Next week, preparation time increases to 20 hours per week.

In the past week, UTSA practiced Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. They were given the day off on Friday.

Henson said he likes the vibe around this year’s team.

“To this point, I’ve loved their focus, their energy, their eagerness to play the right way,” he said. “It’s just been very refereshing. This group likes being around each other. They like spending time together. They like spending time together in the gym.

“It’s a fun group to be around every day.”

As for the overall health of his team, a lot depends on the status of Germany, who led the Roadrunners last year with 15.2 points and 48.8 percent shooting. Also, 7.3 rebounds per game.

Seven-foot center Carlton Linguard, Jr., a transfer from Kansas State, won’t participate in workouts for the time being. The former Stevens High School standout is rehabilitating a knee injury.

Forward Aleu Aleu, knocked out with a knee injury last January during his first season at UTSA, has been one of the bright spots for Henson lately.

Aleu didn’t participate in contact work in the summer, but the multi-skilled 6-foot-8 forward now seems to be rounding into form.

“Aleu had good practices Tuesday and Thursday,” Henson said. “Looked like he’s feeling better. He ran today, so it was good to see him get some conditioning on turf.”

UTSA will have six weeks to prepare for the season. The Roadrunners will play an exhibition on Nov. 2 at home against Schreiner College. They’ll open the regular season at home on Nov. 7 against Trinity.

Germany’s status uncertain with full practices looming next week

Though UTSA center Jacob Germany was on the court and dressed out in his uniform for team pictures on Thursday afternoon, he was not on the floor for a workout later in the day.

He was on the sideline, seated at the scorer’s table, as the Roadrunners went through one of their final abbreviated practices before expanded-session, preseason drills commence on Monday.

Jacob Germany. UTSA men's basketball beat Rice 82-71 on Saturday, March 5, 2022, at the Convocation Center in the Roadrunners' final game of the regular season. The Conference USA Tournament starts Tuesday. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jacob Germany averaged 15.3 points per game and shot 48.8 percent from the field last season. – Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Steve Henson declined to elaborate on the nature of Germany’s setback or how long he might be out. The coach said he’d know more in coming days.

“He’s seeing the doctor tomorrow,” the coach said. “I don’t know if I’m at liberty to talk about what it is … I don’t know if he was out Monday? But he was definitely out Tuesday and today. He’s going to see the doctor tomorrow morning.

“Hopefully we’ll know by tomorrow afternoon whether he’s good to go on Monday.”

Germany, a senior, is the pillar around which the Roadrunners hope to rebuild in the wake of a 10-22 record a year ago.

Last season, the 6-foot-11 post from Oklahoma led the Roadrunners with 15.3 points on 48.8 percent shooting from the field. He also averaged 7.2 rebounds.

Despite the situation with Germany, Henson said he feels like the team has made good progress through the summer and the early fall workouts.

“Really good,” he said. “The fall felt a lot like the summer did. We want a new-ness. We want a freshness on Monday. They know that it gets a lot more real. It’s longer and more intense on Monday.

“But to this point, I’ve loved their focus, their energy, their eagerness to play the right way. It’s just been very refereshing. This group likes being around each other. They like spending time together. They like spending time together in the gym.

“It’s a fun group to be around every day.”

Full-session workouts

Since the first of June, the Roadrunners have been limited to eight hours a week, which has broken down to about four in the weight room and four on the floor. It’s also been that way for the past four weeks to start the fall semester.

On Monday, the allowable workload will increase to 20 hours a week, inclusive of weights, meetings, film sessions and practices. As a result, the Roadrunners will enter a phase next week in which they will hold 30 workouts over a 42-day stretch.

Game preparation

UTSA will host an exhibition game against Schreiner on Nov. 2. The regular-season opener follows on Nov. 7 at home against Trinity. UTSA will play a 31-game schedule, including 18 at home.

Sharing the ball

UTSA’s workout on Thursday afternoon featured some crisp passing. The ball moved well from the top, to the baseline, to the post and back out to the perimeter.

UTSA men's basketball player Japhet Medor at the Convocation Center on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

Florida native Japhet Medor is expected to play a major role for the Roadrunners at point guard. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Newcomer Japhet Medor initiated plays from the point guard position with precision. Christian Tucker also enjoyed a good day at the point. Medor, Tucker and veteran Erik Czumbel are expected to play the point this season.

Ball movement and shot selection will be critical to the team’s success.

“We’ve got several guys that can make plays,” Henson said. “But we’ve got willing passers. That’s a big part of it. With certain lineups, our spacing is pretty good. Some of those lineups, we’ve got multiple shooters out there.”

“Yeah, the ball movement has been good. About the only time it’s not is when the defense is keeping us from doing it. They want to move the ball. Japhet can set the table with that. He’s got the quickness to get in there and attract people.

“He’s capable of scoring a lot, but he’s a pass-first guy. (When) the point guard comes in with that mindset, it helps everybody.”

Newcomer John Buggs III is almost like a playmaker himself but, as a long-distance shooting specialist, he will play on the wing.

“We picture Japhet, Christian and Erik initiating the offense,” Henson said. “Now, you’re right. I love when we enter it to Buggs and let him make some plays. (Freshman) DJ (Richards) is a little more of a playmaker, too.”

“We need Buggs and we need DJ as three-point shooters, but they both have a good feel for (distributing). Buggs, coming off his knee injury (from last year, at Hill College), his explosiveness and quickness just continues to get better.

“He was that type of player in high school, where he could do some things off the dribble. His body is looking good. He’s getting quicker and more explosive.”

Camp standouts

Asked to point out players who have elevated their performances in the past week, Henson mentioned sophomores Lamin Sabally and Josh Farmer and senior Aleu Aleu.

“Lamin had three great practices in a row,” Henson said. “He was really good on (the final workout last week) and Monday and Tuesday. Josh has had his best stretch the last couple of weeks. And Aleu. Aleu’s been out with injury and some sickess, as well. But Tuesday and today, he was really good.

Lamin Sabally. UTSA men's basketball beat Rice 82-71 on Saturday, March 5, 2022, at the Convocation Center in the Roadrunners' final game of the regular season. The Conference USA Tournament starts Tuesday. - photo by Joe Alexander

Sophomore forward Lamin Sabally is pushing for an expanded role after averaging 12.3 minutes in 21 games last season. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“He hopped in and defensively was really getting after it. He was attacking. I’d say those three in recent days have been very good.”

Germany said last week that he thinks Farmer, a 6-9 sophomore, might have made the most improvement of any returning player from last year. Henson wouldn’t disagree.

“He had a very good summer,” Henson said. “He’s figuring out, he’s been figuring out what to eliminate. That’s been a big thing for him. You know, eliminate this play. Eliminate that pass. Eliminate that shot. That in itself has helped him, and he’s gotten better at his strengths.

“He’s handling the ball better. He’s cleaner with the ball. Making simpler plays. You saw today, his athleticism and quickness … defensively, he’s flying around. Yeah, that’s fair to say, as far as the returners, he’s done a heck of a job.”

Injury updates

Seven-foot center Carlton Linguard, Jr., a junior transfer from Kansas State, is rehabilitating a knee injury and has some work to do to get himself fit enough to practice. Henson hasn’t put a timeline on when he can join the team on the practice floor.

Even then, Linguard also has some hurdles to clear on academics before he can play in a game, and the earliest he could play likely would be in the second semester. Linguard is attending practices, though the former Stevens High School standout has been limited to light shooting on his own and conditioning.

Aleu suffered a right knee injury last January and, consequently, was brought along slowly in the summer session workouts. By the end of August, he was cleared for contact as the team prepared to enter the fall semester.

Also about that time, freshman guard DJ Richards had his tonsils removed, but he is OK now. Both Aleu and Richards seem to be full strength now.

Spurs executive on campus

Henson met Thursday with longtime Spurs front office executive Joe Clark, who is the local NBA franchise’s vice president of youth sports and community engagement. Clark has been with the Spurs since 1985, according to the team’s website.

Asked if he’s collaborating with Clark on a youth sports project, Henson said, “We talked about a whole bunch of topics. How we can partner together a little bit. I think there’s some potential to do some things that would help both of us a lot. So, we’re excited about that.”

UTSA players have cooked up Sunday dinner, and also team chemistry, in the early going

By Jerry Briggs
Special to The JB Replay

Scenes of bodies banging in the paint, players muscling for position on the perimeter and hard-fought possessions that ended with the ball caroming off the rim probably outnumbered the jump shots that swished through the nets on Tuesday afternoon at UTSA.

In the fourth week of time-limited, early-fall semester workouts, Steve Henson’s Roadrunners clearly remain something of a work in progress.

Jacob Germany, UTSA beat Denver 78-64 in men's basketball on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jacob Germany emerged last season as one of the best offensive centers in Conference USA. – photo by Joe Alexander

One thing is certain, though. In the time that players on Henson’s seventh team at UTSA have been together since June, they have bonded well together. This semester, they’re practicing on Monday and Tuesday afternoons, congregating in study hall on Wednesdays, and then going back into workouts on Thursdays and Fridays.

On Saturday? They’re thinking like a lot of other UTSA students at this time of the year. “We’ll probably drive up to Austin (for the game against Texas) and tailgate a little bit,” said senior center Jacob Germany, who may also have something planned for Sunday, as well.

In weeks past, players have met at his apartment to talk over spiritual matters, not to mention chowing down on some of the 6-foot-11 Oklahoman’s finest culinary offerings. “We’ll have steak sandwiches, or spaghetti,” said Germany, who is the son of a chef and knows his way around the kitchen.

Last winter and spring, there were many days and nights when Germany didn’t look like he was having a whole lot of fun, and most of it likely stemmed from losing. Plagued with injuries, academic casualties and Covid-19 disruptions, the Roadrunners lost 22 games.

Germany enjoyed a fine season individually, averaging 15.2 points and 7.3 rebounds. Though he made only honorable mention all conference, it was easy to see that his offensive game was one of the most advanced — if not the most advanced — of anyone playing his position in the C-USA.

But not even on nights when he’d go for 20-point, double-doubles did he seem as if he was enjoying himself all that much. In contrast, his easy-going demeanor on Tuesday afternoon was telling. He smiled easily. He just seemed at peace as he surveyed the scene at the Convocation Center.

Isaiah Addo-Ankrah, a walk-on who won a scholarship over the summer, took shot after shot on one end of the floor. By himself, he kept firing away. On the other end, guard John Buggs III, a newcomer, was also doing a solo routine, pumping up jumpers after everyone else had repaired to the dressing room.

“Look at those guys, out here 45 minutes after, still working,” Germany said.

This time last year, UTSA’s team was just hard to analyze. The key players were Jordan Ivy-Curry, Dhieu Deing, Cedrick Alley and Germany. It wasn’t as good as the 2017- to 2021-era Roadrunners team that featured guards Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace.

But it looked to me as if it could be a unit that would at least win half its games. To me, it looked good enough on paper to come out of the regular season, perhaps in the middle of the pack, with a chance to get hot at the conference tournament. As everyone knows, though, the 2021-22 Roadrunners never got close to that level.

And from last year’s nucleus, only Germany remains. In some respects, that’s sort of a frightening prospect. If you lose Ivy-Curry, Deing and Alley, you lose scoring, rebounding and athleticism, for sure. But I’m not so sure that this new team, perhaps with less overall athleticism, doesn’t have the capability to be more successful.

Maybe much more so.

Why? For one thing, it’s got a pass-first point guard in Japhet Meador and a physical two-guard in Buggs. Neither is comparable to Ivy-Curry or Deing in athletic ability. But in skill level and savvy? From early indications, both have displayed solid individual talents that could, in turn, make it easier for talent around them to flourish.

On Tuesday afternoon, at least, two returning players that struggled for much of last year looked much more settled and improved. Senior guard Erik Czumbel had a really good practice. Six-foot-seven sophomore forward Lamin Sabally also shot the ball with authority.

In one sequence, he took a shorter defender down to the low post and scored over the top. In another, he pulled up and swished a couple from the perimeter. Forward Aleu Aleu, beset with injuries since he arrived last year, didn’t look great but I’ve always thought he could be major factor if he can get healthy and into top shape.

Germany, for his part, said he thinks 6-foot-9 sophomore Josh Farmer has made the most progress of any of the returning players.

The key to it all may be Meador, a Florida native. It’s arguable that UTSA hasn’t had a player with distribution skills like him since Giovanni De Nicolao, who turned pro in 2018. “Japhet is crazy good,” Germany said. “When he comes off screens, he sees everything. His vision is really good.”

Seeing the floor is one thing. Seeing into the future in college basketball is another. It’s not easy, particularly at the mid-major level, because there are so many variable. But at least in mid-September, the leading returning scorer on the Roadrunners has a good feeling that bonding and team-building over the past few months could make a difference next March.

“We’re a lot closer this year,” Germany said. “It’s kind of refreshing.”

All together now — UTSA hopes to build on intangibles and move past troubled times

UTSA men's basketball player Massal Diouf at the Convocation Center on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA freshman Massal Diouf, from The Netherlands, played well Wednesday afternoon in a series of informal pickup games at the Convocation Center. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Replay

Acknowledging a “bad taste” left over from a disappointing 10-win season, seventh-year UTSA basketball coach Steve Henson has expressed guarded optimism about his latest work-in-progress, a squad buoyed by senior center Jacob Germany, an infusion of backcourt talent and a feeling that the group is pulling together as one.

Steve Henson. UAB beat UTSA 68-56 on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in Conference USA men's basketball at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Seventh-year UTSA basketball coach Steve Henson says he likes the feel around his program, with everyone pulling together. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Henson didn’t mention the word redemption. But he said he hasn’t been as hungry or as excited to win since he took the UTSA job in 2016. “You have to turn the page, just move on (and) get that bad taste out of your mouth,” the coach said in an interview at his office on Tuesday.

Derailed by adversity, including injuries, Covid-19 disruptions, a senior starter lost to academics and issues related to key scorers who couldn’t stay on the same page with the coaches, Henson’s sixth team at UTSA finished 10-22 overall and 3-15 in Conference USA.

It was a humbling experience for the coach, who had guided the Roadrunners to winning seasons in three of the previous four years, including a 20-win season in 2017-18.

“Going back and watching some of those games (from last year, on tape), it doesn’t get any better three, four, five months later,” he said. “It was frustrating to see us play that way. So, there’s that motivating factor.”

The other primary motivation is a new collection of players that Henson really likes.

“Eight or nine weeks (in the summer) with these guys, with one week off in the middle, they’re just so enjoyable to be around,” the coach said. “They come to the office. They enjoy each other. They have a good time.

“They work. They invest. They put the time in. The energy level is terrific with this group.”

The newcomers

The Roadrunners reeled in five new players last spring, and two of them could take on starters’ roles and significant playing time when the season tips off in November.

Junior guards Japhet Medor and John Buggs III have shown promise. Medor, a 5-foot-11 Floridian with quickness and an ability to create in the paint, will compete at point guard. Buggs is a Louisiana native who can do a little of everything as a shooting guard.

UTSA men's basketball player Japhet Medor at the Convocation Center on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA newcomer Japhet Medor, a junior transfer, is expected to contend for a starter’s role at point guard. He’s known as an effective distributor, but he also displayed in informal scrimmages on Wednesday a smooth stroke on his jump shot. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“Our juco guards are extremely mature,” Henson said. “They just absolutely understand how to be great teammates and leaders … We’re counting on those two to have a big impact on us in terms of minutes and roles but also in intangible things, as well.”

Another guard, 6-5 freshman DJ Richards, is from Cypress Creek High School in the Houston area. He prepped at Montverde Academy in Florida last season.

Hoping to earn playing time in the post is freshman Massal Diouf (6-9, 235) from Gouda, The Netherlands. He’s played with U-16 and U-18 Dutch national teams and attended Western Canada Prep Academy.

Seven-foot Carlton Linguard Jr., who played at Stevens High School in San Antonio, isn’t academically eligible yet. Linguard (7-0, 220) isn’t expected to play for at least the first semester. At the outset of his college career, he had one solid season at Temple Junior College and spent past two in a lesser role at Kansas State in the Big 12.

Big man returns

Germany averaged 15.2 points and 7.3 rebounds last year as a junior. Even though the Roadrunners struggled, the 6-foot-11 Oklahoman emerged as one of the best offensive post players in the C-USA. Germany displayed an expanded array of skills, throwing hook shots from 10 and 12 feet while improving his scoring average by five points from his sophomore year.

Earning a scholarship

Coming off a surprisingly strong second season in the program, three-point shooting specialist Isaiah Addo-Ankrah was awarded a scholarship this summer. The 6-foot-6 Houston native broke out in January of last season by hitting three 3-pointers off the bench at UTEP and five at Rice. He is classified as a sophomore.

Getting healthy

Multi-skilled Aleu Aleu has been cleared for contact work when the team begins its initial phase of fall-semester practice on Monday, Henson said. Limited by leg injuries and missing time due to Covid-19, the 6-foot-8 wing played only 10 games for the Roadrunners last season.

Speculation

Players capable of handling point guard duties this year might include the likes of Japhet, senior Erik Czumbel and sophomore Christian Tucker. At the two-guard, look for Buggs, Czumbel and Richards. Wing forwards would include Addo-Ankrah, Aleu, Lamin Sabally and Azavier Johnson. A power forward group might be comprised of Lachlan Bofinger, Josh Farmer, Aleu and Addo-Ankrah. At center? Germany, Farmer, Diouf and Linguard.

The schedule

UTSA will host the Schreiner Mountaineers on Nov. 2 in an exhibition, according to the schedule announced on Tuesday.

UTSA men's basketball player John Buggs III at the Convocation Center on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA newcomer John Buggs III has impressed coaches with his skills and leadership. The Louisiana native averaged 15.2 points and shot 47.3 percent from three last year at Hill College. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The regular season will commence on Nov. 7 at home against Trinity. On Nov. 11, the Roadrunners will play on the road against the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders, who in the postseason last spring swept to the Southland Conference title en route to the NCAA tournament.

UTSA returns home to play the St. Mary’s Rattlers on Nov. 14. A homestand continues with a visit from Sun Belt regular-season champion Texas State on Nov. 17, and from Prairie View A&M on Nov. 22.

In the 210 San Antonio Shootout, UTSA hosts Grambling State on Nov. 25, Dartmouth on Nov. 27 and Incarnate Word on Nov. 28.

Hitting the road, the Roadrunners play at the University of New Mexico on Dec. 10 and at Utah on Dec. 13. The Utah game will be the only one in the regular season against a power conference program. In a final tune up before conference, UTSA hosts Bethune Cookman on Dec. 18. C-USA play starts early, on Dec. 22, with a visit from the North Texas Mean Green.

C-USA tournament: Southern Miss eliminates UTSA, 67-64

Tyler Stevenson scored 22 points and Walyn Napper added 19 Tuesday night as the Southern Miss Golden Eagles ousted the UTSA Roadrunners in the first round of the Conference USA tournament, 67-64.

Steve Henson. North Texas beat UTSA 59-48 on Thursday, March 3, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Coach Steve Henson’s UTSA Roadrunners finished the season with a 10-22 record. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Jaron Pierre hit a clutch 3-pointer down the stretch and finished with 12 for the Golden Eagles, who snapped a 14-game losing streak.

Jacob Germany led the Roadrunners with 28 points and 12 rebounds. The Roadrunners committed 18 turnovers and finished the season with a record of 10-22.

Southern Miss improved to 7-25 and advanced to play Florida Atlantic Wednesday night.

Admitting to a “sick feeling” over the loss and the way the season ended, UTSA coach Steve Henson nevertheless paid tribute to the players who finished out a season marked by injuries, Covid-19 disruptions and roster upheaval.

“We started out six years ago recruiting high character guys,” Henson said on the team’s radio broadcast. “There are 12 high-character guys in that locker room right there that continued to prepare the right way.

“If you had walked into practice last Monday and Tuesday, and didn’t know our record, you’d think we had a pretty good year. The guys were still fighting and practicing the right way. They stayed together. That’s a real credit to them.

“Wish we could have made some better adjustments there out of some timeouts late. Wish we could have found a way to get that win. It’s a sick feeling right now. We’re disappointed right now. The last game of the season never goes away.

“Time does not heal all wounds. That’s not true. This will feel like crap for the rest of our lives. It just does. There’s nothing we can do about that. It’s a good group of guys. I really loved ’em and cared about ’em.”

Individually

UTSA — Jacob Germany finished with a 28 and 12 night. He sizzled with 12 of 20 shooting from the field. Some were difficult shots, too, high-arching hooks from 14 and 15 freet. Isaiah Addo-Ankrah finished with 14. He hit 4 of 8 from three. Lachlan Bofinger and Erik Czumbel scored 10 apiece. Bofinger was effective in hitting 5 of 9 shots and snaring 6 rebounds. Dhieu Deing had a tough night, scoreless on 0 for 9 shooting, including 0 of 8 from three.

Southern Miss — Tyler Stevenson, one of the Golden Eagles’ best players who had been out four games with an apparent injury, came off the bench for 22 points and seven rebounds. He was 9 of 12 from the field. Walyn Napper, Deing’s teammate last year at Dodge City (Kan.) Community College, also hurt the Roadrunners with 19 points on 8 of 14 shooting. Both Stevenson and Napper hit shots in the final two minutes. Jaron Pierre hit a go-ahead three with 2:16 remaining.

First half

Jacob Germany drove for a dunk on his first touch and then went to work with some soft hooks. In all, he made five straight field goals to open the half against Southern Miss.

The Roadrunners followed Germany to a nine-point lead in the first 10 minutes en route to a 30-25 halftime advantage on the Golden Eagles.

Germany finished the half with 17 points and six rebounds. Unfortunately for the Roadrunners, they were too careless with the ball, committed nine turnovers and allowed the Golden Eagles to stay close.

Records

Southern Miss 7-25
UTSA 10-22

Roadrunners ‘fired up’ for the Conference USA tournament

Jacob Germany. UTSA men's basketball beat Rice 82-71 on Saturday, March 5, 2022, at the Convocation Center in the Roadrunners' final game of the regular season. The Conference USA Tournament starts Tuesday. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA center Jacob Germany was named honorable mention on the all-Conference USA team announced on Monday.- Photo by Joe Alexander

For a team that endured a couple of agonizing multiple-week gaps between victories this season, the UTSA Roadrunners are feeling surprisingly good about themselves leading into the Conference USA tournament.

The Roadrunners will take on the Southern Miss Golden Eagles Tuesday night in the tournament opener.

“We certainly got a couple of guys out for the season with injuries and other reasons, (and) we wish they were with us,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said Monday. “But with this group here, the spirits are good. Practices have been good. (We) made a pretty good run against North Texas, a great team, on Thursday. (We) played well on Saturday (against Rice) and (we’re) fired up to play tomorrow night.”

In a matchup of teams from the bottom of the C-USA West Division, UTSA (10-21, 3-15) plays Southern Miss (6-25, 1-17) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at The Star in Frisco. If the Roadrunners win, they would advance to meet the Florida Atlantic Owls (18-13, 11-7) on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.

“I think everyone in this gym would say we’re going down there expecting to win,” said center Jacob Germany, the team’s leading scorer. “I think we all want to win. I’m really proud of our guys, that we’ve fought through this year and all the difficulties we had to face and overcome. Proud of everybody and everyone who stuck through it.”

While players and coaches felt good about themselves as they boarded a bus Monday bound for Frisco, they also have no illusions about how difficult it would be to win the tournament. For the Roadrunners to claim the C-USA title, they would need to win five games in five days.

Then again, they have made strides since they started conference with a 1-12 record.

Sophomore forward Isaiah Addo-Ankrah, for instance, has come on strong. In the last five games, the walk-on from Houston Second Baptist High School has averaged 9.4 points per game and has hit nearly 50 percent (14 of 30) from three-point distance. In addition, junior Erik Czumbel has averaged 11.2 points in his last six games.

In UTSA’s 82-71 victory over Rice at home on Saturday, Czumbel led four Roadrunners in double figures with a career-high 22 points.

“He’s been awfully good,” Henson said of Czumbel, from Verona, Italy, after the Rice game. “I thought he was terrific tonight. The ball was in his hands a lot. He got downhill. He got in the paint. Every time he shot it, it looked like it was going in.”

Playing limited minutes behind Darius McNeill, Jordan Ivy-Curry and Dhieu Deing in November and December, Czumbel couldn’t get anything going offensively. In his first 11 games, he took only 24 shots and hit six of them. He was 0 for 10 on 3-point shots until making his first trey on Jan. 3.

When Ivy-Curry left the team to enter the transfer portal a few weeks ago, Czumbel stepped up and started to make some things happen.

“It’s kind of been building,” Henson said. “His minutes have gone up … Erik’s going to gauge the situation, see how we’re flowing offensively. He’s not a guy who’s going to decide, ‘Hey, I’m going to go get 20 right now.’ But he understands some plays need to be made.”

While Czumbel has been a pleasant surprise as of late, Addo-Ankrah might have been the surprise of the year for the Roadrunners. He barely played for the first few months. He didn’t play at all in 10 of UTSA’s first 16 games.

But down the stretch, in the absence of Aleu Aleu, who is out for the year with a knee injury, Addo-Ankrah has scored in double figures three times. He torched Southern Miss for 21 points in Hattiesburg on Feb. 17.

“I’m not surprised,” Germany said. “He’s in the gym every night. He puts in the time, the hours. He’s taken advantage of this opportunity he’s gotten and everyone is just super proud of him. He deserves every bit of it. He’s a big key for us.”

Deing could be a wild card for UTSA in the tournament. At times this season, the junior transfer from Dodge City Community College in Kansas has played extremely well.

At other times, he has slumped badly. Once, in the first few days of January, he got so upset after a poor performance in Alabama against UAB that he left the team. Now he is back and is playing well.

Deing, who played for South Sudan’s national team last summer, is averaging 16.4 points while hitting 40.9 percent from three in his last five games.

For most of the season, Germany has been the rock. The 6-foot-11 junior from Oklahoma has averaged career highs of 14.7 points and 7.2 rebounds. Facing pressure in a lot of games from double teams, he has shot 48.2 percent from the field.

On Monday, Germany was named to the C-USA’s honorable mention team.

“There’s a bunch of good guys in our league, so I’m not surprised,” Germany said. “In my mind, I’m up there with anybody in the league. But the guys up there (on the first and second teams), they deserve it. I’ll be there next year.”

First-team honors went to Louisiana Tech center/power forward Kenneth Lofton, Jr. The big men honored on the second team were Thomas Bell of North Texas and Austin Trice of Old Dominion. On the third team, there were no big men listed, only five guards.

Coming up

UTSA in the Conference USA tournament, at Frisco
Tuesday — UTSA vs. Southern Miss, 7 p.m.
Wednesday — UTSA or Southern Miss vs. Florida Atlantic, 8:30 p.m.
Thursday — UTSA, Southern Miss or Florida Atlantic vs. UAB, 8:30 p.m.
Friday — Semifinals
Saturday — Finals

Roadrunners host the 20-win UAB Blazers tonight

Looking for a momentum-changing victory after losing 15 of their last 18 games, the UTSA Roadrunners take on the UAB Blazers tonight at 7 at the Convocation Center.

Beating the Blazers won’t be easy.

The visitors have won 20 games, and they boast an explosive offense that averages 80.5 points. Jordan ‘Jelly’ Walker leads the Blazers with 19.2 points 5 assists per game.

The Roadrunners are down to nine scholarship players — eight of whom are in the playing rotation — after starting guard Jordan Ivy-Curry left the program earlier in the week.

Nevertheless, UTSA center Jacob Germany has been a steady presence in the paint, and coach Steve Henson said his players continue to practice well.

The key will be finding some consistency in the last three regular-season games — all against some of the most talented teams in the Conference USA West division.

UTSA closes next week against North Texas and Rice. The Roadrunners will face the Southern Miss Golden Eagles in the first round of the tournament at Frisco. The game will be held March 8 at The Star in Frisco.

Records

UTSA 9-19, 2-13
UAB 20-7, 10-4

Last time out

UTSA — Louisiana Tech hit a flurry of 3-point shots and downed the Roadrunners 95-71 on Saturday in Ruston, La. Jacob Germany had his eighth double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds. It was Germany’s fourth double-double with 20 points or more.

UAB — The Blazers had a six point lead with 1:55 remaining and couldn’t hold on. The North Texas Mean Green rallied for a 58-57 victory Saturday in Birmingham, with Tylor Perry hitting a three with three seconds left. The Blazers were limited to 40 percent shooting, including only 3 of 11 from long distance.

Results in February

UTSA — Lost at Rice, 91-78; lost at North Texas, 69-45; lost at Middle Tennessee, 84-75; lost at home to Western Kentucky, 71-65; won at Southern Miss, 98-79 (overtime); lost at Louisiana Tech, 95-71.

UAB — Won at home vs. Middle Tennessee, 97-75; won at home vs. Southern Miss, 84-63; lost at Old Dominion, 81-72; won at home vs. Rice, 92-68; lost at home to North Texas, 58-57.

Coming up

Thursday — UAB at UTSA, 7 p.m.
March 3 — North Texas at UTSA, 7 p.m.
March 5 — Rice at UTSA, 2 p.m.

C-USA tournament

March 8 — Southern Miss vs. UTSA, at Frisco
March 9-12 — TBA

Notable

UAB routed UTSA 87-59 on Jan. 1 in Birmingham. The Roadrunners played that game with a starting lineup that included Germany, Ivy-Curry, Aleu Aleu, Dhieu Deing and Cedrick Alley Jr. Out of that group, only Germany and Deing will be available tonight. Ivy-Curry placed his name in the transfer portal on Wednesday. Aleu is out for the season with a knee injury. Alley has been ruled academically ineligible.

UAB shot 49.2 percent in the first meeting, with KJ Buffen scoring 20 points and Walker 19. Buffen also led the way on the boards.

Western Kentucky downs UTSA, despite Germany’s 26 points

Jacob Germany. UTSA lost to Western Kentucky 71-65 in Conference USA men's basketball on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA center Jacob Germany scored 26 points, but the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers escaped with a 71-65 road victory at the Convocation Center. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The UTSA Roadrunners entered a Saturday afternoon home game without the services of injured guard Jordan Ivy-Curry, their leading scorer.

Not a great sign for the team with the worst record in Conference USA.

Western Kentucky's Jamarion Sharp blocking a shot against UTSA in Conference USA men's basketball on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Western Kentucky’s Jamarion Sharp, a 7-5 center, rises up to block a shot against UTSA. – Photo by Joe Alexander

But instead of allowing the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers to run away with an easy one, 6-foot-11 center Jacob Germany and friends played hard and stayed in contention to win until the end.

Getting big performances from guards Josh Anderson and Jairus Hamilton, who each scored 18 points, Western Kentucky fended off rallies by the Roadrunners in each half en route to a 71-65 victory at the UTSA Convocation Center.

Hilltoppers point guard Dayvion McKnight also made a big play down the stretch as the visitors escaped with their fourth straight win and their second in three days.

On the flip side, an inspired performance by Germany went for naught, with the Roadrunners losing their fifth game in a row.

Germany scored 26 points and pulled down 11 rebounds against the Hilltoppers and their 7-foot-5 center, Jamarion Sharp.

It was one of the best performances by a center this season against Sharp, the nation’s leading shot blocker.

Unofficially, seven of Germany’s 11 baskets came on jumpers or hooks hoisted from outside the paint.

“Let me tell you,” Western Kentucky coach Rick Stansbury said, “as you well know, I got a pretty good defender in there. I’ve never had a player go over him this year.

“We had one go through him, physically, but Germany’s the first guy that’s gone over the top of him. All year long. He was really good.”

Isaiah Addo-Ankrah. UTSA lost to Western Kentucky 71-65 in Conference USA men's basketball on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Sophomore Isaiah Addo-Ankrah started for the first time but struggled with his shot, hitting 2 of 9 from the field and scoring five points. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Sharp finished with five points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.

“You go on the road, it’s never easy,” Stansbury said. “We knew this was a much better team than their record. They’ve been in every game like this, and they just haven’t pulled out some games.

“I thought they had a little extra emotion playing without their point guard, but we felt like the other guys made their team better, and they did.”

Germany said it’s always been a challenge for him to play against Western Kentucky. Last year, he faced Charles Bassey, now with the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers.

This year, it was Sharp, who is less of an offensive threat than his predecessor but quite the presence as a defender.

“I think Western Kentucky does a really good job developing bigs into really elite big men,” Germany said. “That’s why Bassey’s in the league right now. You know, (Sharp) will probably be in the league in a few years.”

Germany made a statement with his individual performance, but he said he doesn’t know if he necessarily proved a point.

“I just went out there and competed,” said Germany, who hit 11 of 19 from the field. “They were giving me the looks that I wanted.”

As for the team, Germany said he thinks the Roadrunners are close to turning the corner on a difficult season.

“Tonight, they started out like five or six from three,” he said. “We just need to get through that. We just need to take a good half and put another good half together.”

Records

Western Kentucky 14-11, 6-6
UTSA 8-18, 1-12

Coming up

Feb. 17 — UTSA at Southern Mississippi, 7 p.m.
Feb. 19 — UTSA at Louisiana Tech, 4 p.m.

Notable

Dragged down by Covid-19 issues and sundry other issues that have made game-to-game consistency nearly impossible, UTSA is 2-14 since mid-December. The Roadrunners’ 12 C-USA losses are the most in any of six seasons with Coach Steve Henson at the helm.

Steve Henson. UTSA lost to Western Kentucky 71-65 in Conference USA men's basketball on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Steve Henson says his players have maintained a positive attitude during a two-month streak of misfortune. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Four of the losses have been by six points or less. Previously, the Roadrunners’ worst showing in the C-USA under Henson came in 2019-20, when they went 7-11. The year before Henson took over, UTSA finished 5-27 and 3-15.

It’s uncertain when Ivy-Curry, who leads the Roadrunners in scoring at 15.4 points per game, could make his return. Henson says his explosive wing player is making progress, but the coach says he isn’t close to being able to practice. The 6-foot-2 sophomore sprained his ankle at the end of a game Monday night at Middle Tennessee State.

Quotable

“There were a lot of positives, but with the game on the line, we just didn’t make the play that we needed to make,” Henson said.

Henson said the Roadrunners definitely missed Ivy-Curry, who has had to sit out seven games this season, including six in Covid-19 protocols.

Erik Czumbel. UTSA lost to Western Kentucky 71-65 in Conference USA men's basketball on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Erik Czumbel produced 14 points and four assists for the Roadrunners. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“For sure, he does so much for us,” Henson said. “He’s our leading scorer and one of our better three-point shooters … We missed him. (But) I’m proud of the other guys that did step up.”

Henson mentioned guard Erik Czumbel, who scored 14 points.

“Darius (McNeill), in the first half, got in the middle of the zone and made some nice plays,” Henson said. “(Lachlan Bofinger’s) energy was great.”

Individuals

Western Kentucky — Anderson came off the bench for 18 points, including 12 in the first half. He also had six rebounds and two steals. Hamilton scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half. He also pulled down seven rebounds. McKnight posted up McNeill with 1:33 remaining and hit a shot that put the Hilltoppers in front, 68-63.

UTSA — Czumbel contributed 14 points and four assists. He hit a season-high four three-point shots. McNeill finished with six points, six assists and four rebounds. Starting for Ivy-Curry, Isaiah Addo-Ankrah scored five points. Meanwhile, Dhieu Deing was held to three. Together, Addo-Ankrah and Deing were a combined 2 of 13 from the the three-point line.

Video highlights

A moment to remember from the first half

One defensive gem deserves another

Shooting it from downtown