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Returning Lions set sights on national tournament

By Jonathan Rhodes
On July 10, 2017

The Lions basketball team hopes to perform strong this offseason. Four senior players that were injured last season will get the opportunity to make a run for the Southland title and the national tournament. File Photos/ The Lion’s Roar

Four Lions basketball players: redshirt senior forward James Currington, redshirt senior forward Jordan Capps, redshirt senior guard Joshua Filmore and redshirt senior guard Keith Charleston were injured last season and could not help the team to get past the first round of the Southland Conference Tournament. Despite the injuries from last season, the Lions were still able to have their first winning regular season since the 2010-11 season.

Without the veteran players, the younger Lions players filled in the needed roles on the team and made a huge improvement from where the team finished the previous season.

“No doubt the younger guys stepped up last year,” said Currington. “With the rest of us coming back, we can definitely make a run for the Southland title and make the national tournament.”

Capps had a lisfranc injury after only two games last season, Currington rested for the first nine games of last season due to a leg injury he had the previous season before he was able to play the rest of last season. Filmore and Charleston did not play at all last season.

It was difficult for the players to sit by and watch their teammates throughout the season, but they noticed a few things by watching and got to see the game from a different perspective.

“Sometimes it was tough for us individually because we wanted to be out there to help the team,” said Filmore. “Off the court, we try to offer advice. When you are playing in the heat of the moment, you don’t notice some things, but when you are off watching, there are things that you can tell them to help them out.”

Because of these injuries, there is the possibility that the playing style of the players and their mentality on the court could change. However, Capps embraces the possibility of having to change his game and evolve as a player.

“I’m always trying to change and evolve my game to become better,” said Capps. “It’s really just patience. With injuries, you can’t rush anything, so I’m just being patient and trusting the process. We’ll see when it’s time for me to play if I feel different, but hopefully, I feel stronger as in different. Changing your game is a good thing sometimes. People try to come back from injuries too quickly and risk getting hurt again. I’m just trying to be patient.”

The Lions were bounced out of the Southland Conference Tournament in the first round. However, with the returning veteran players, there is a chance for the team to not only win the conference title but also make it to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament for the first time since 2005.

“I wouldn’t say it was a good thing that our players got hurt,” said Capps. “But it gave the younger guys some experience, so we know what to expect from them when they come off the bench this year. As seniors, we have to lead the group, but again, their experience helps and will be key to winning the conference championship and possibly making it to the national tournament.”

The players will continue to practice and rehabilitate for this upcoming season that will start in November. 

“I think we have a good chance,” said Charleston. “By the time we start to get ready for that, we will be prepared to go up against anybody.”

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