As news surfaced about the subtraction of Jalen Jones from this season’s roster, the SMU basketball team showed why it wasn’t much of a concern.
By Tommy Smith
DALLAS On the same day the SMU Basketball team confirmed last season’s leading scorer was granted his release from the program to pursue a transfer, the Mustangs (2-0, 0-0) showed no signs that Jalen Jones’ decision was going to affect them. Instead, the much improved cast that makes up this season’s roster hammered the University of Rhode Island 89-58.
Jones was one of five starters who all averaged more than 30 minutes a game last season. Many nights, SMU head coach Larry Brown, was able to call for just a player or two from his bench to spell his top five for a few minutes or less. That is not the case anymore, as all 14 players saw action in Monday night’s impressive win over Rhode Island (1-1,0-0). According to Brown, Jones wanted to be a starter at small forward and continue to play more than 30 minutes a game. Unfortunately for Jones, the young and talented roster that Brown and his staff has assembled will not accommodate those desires.
Nic Moore is one of four transfers SMU has acquired themselves. After sitting out last season, a NCAA requirement for all transfers, Moore has assumed the point guard duties for the Mustangs. As he was in his first game, Moore was the catalyst for the Mustangs. He led his team in scoring again with 20 points, adding seven assists with just three turnovers.
After the game, Moore talked about not playing last season and finally getting his chance now. “I wanted to be out their with my teammates, cause I am battling in practice everyday. But it also gave me an eye opener of what to expect from coach Brown, and what he wants me to do and how he wants me to lead the team.”
SMU is now a deep team. Unlike last year, Brown has as many as 13 players who he thinks can play a role in his team’s success this season. When asked about the difference in coaching this team versus last season’s, Brown said, “I’m a little nervous because I find myself struggling to figure out who to play, and I don’t think when you get down to the guts of this season against all the better teams you can play 12 or 13 guys… That’s going to be the biggest challenge.”
Freshman forward Ben Moore appears to be one of those pushing for minutes as the season begins. Moore scored 13 points in 19 minutes against Rhode Island while pulling down nine rebounds. “I may be partial but I think Ben is going to be special.” Brown said of Moore. “He doesn’t even know how good he is.”
SMU took control of Monday night’s game late in the first half and never looked back. They went on a 13-4 run with 4:37 left in the first to lead 37-24 at halftime.
The Mustangs held Rhode Island to just over 30 percent shooting for the game. They had 54 points in the paint to URI’s 24.
The most impressive number, however, had to be the points scored by the Mustang bench. “Our bench got 42 points,” Brown said. “I don’t think our bench scored 42 points total all of last year. I’d be curious about that.”
SMU will travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas to take on the Razorbacks next Monday night. Larry Brown will continue to shape his team there and throughout the early part of the schedule, as the Mustangs prepare to play the likes of UConn, Louisville, Memphis, Cincinnati and Temple as a member of the American Athletic Conference. Any evidence Brown is concerned about doing so without last season’s leading scorer is hard to find.