Despite ‘growing pains,’ Southern women to host Tulane

The Southern University women’s basketball team came one basket shy of a win against Louisiana-Lafayette last week but, judging by the words of coach Sandy Pugh, it would seem like the Jaguars were blown out.

Pugh critiqued her team’s effort, enthusiasm and execution in the 71-69 loss but chalked up some of it to “growing pains.” Southern is still adjusting to a new offensive scheme that the coaching staff installed in the offseason.

“Although we have a lot of kids back from the previous year, I think we have a lot of different parts that aren’t moving very well together,” Pugh said. “In the offseason, we changed the offense in an effort to complement the kids we had signed and to try to get more mobility on our halfcourt offense. It’s a learning curve.”

The opener didn’t so well for Southern, but Pugh was confident things would come together as the team prepares to take on another in-state rival, Tulane, at 6 p.m. Friday at the F.G. Clark Activity Center.

“One game does not make your season ­— unless it’s your last game,” Pugh said. “We’re just getting started, and we’re going to get better each and every time we go out. We’ve had a couple good days of practice here to get refocused and retuned in preparation for Tulane.”

Part of those preparations includes a tweak in the starting lineup. Pugh said freshman Jasmine King likely will take over at point guard, moving junior guard Yasmin Fuller to shooting guard. Fuller had five points and three assists in 20 minutes against ULL; King had four points and one assist in 14 minutes.

“I’ve been really impressed with (King) at practice,” Pugh said. “One of the things I was concerned about was the play of our point guard and having a floor general or someone in charge, dictating pace and relaying on the same page as me.”

Southern has areas in need of improvement. The Jaguars had fewer rebounds, steals and points off turnovers than ULL in the opener.

“I think the kids have greatly improved,” Pugh said. “They’re focusing in on the details it takes to win games. We’re going to get after (Tulane) pretty good.”

Tulane and Southern played in Fogelman Arena last season. The Jaguars were within six points with less than three minutes remaining, but the Green Wave pulled away for a 69-55 win.

“Southern really played well against us last year, and we probably should have lost that game,” Tulane coach Lisa Stockton said. “We came back and took it in the last little bit, but I think they’re going to be very confident playing us. And playing in Baton Rouge isn’t an easy place to play.”

Tulane has won its first two games against Louisiana Tech and Louisiana-Monroe behind the play of senior guard Olivia Grayson. She has played a team-high 52 minutes, leads the team in assists and rebounds and is tied for fourth on the team with 18 points.

“Olivia Grayson is probably the best basketball player in the state ­— period,” Pugh said. “She’ll be an exciting player for our fan base to watch.”