Coaches and cliches go hand-in-hand
But for John A. Logan men's basketball coach Kyle Smithpeters, the reminder that the hoop season is a marathon, not a sprint is more of a mantra, than a throw away line.
The Vols suffered back-to-back losses to start the season, but got on the right side of the win column, thanks in large part to a 21-4 second half run as the Vols knocked off Southwest Tennessee 79-63 Wednesday night at Brewer Gymnasium.
JALC (1-2) put three players in double figures, led by a game-high 30 points from University of Louisville commit Jay Scrubb, while Murray State transfer Jalen Johnson dropped 17 and freshman Sydney Curry bullied his way to 11 points.
"This is exciting for us," Scrubb said. "We work hard and we tried not to dwell on those two early losses and question whether we are a great team or not. We know we're a great team. We've got some young talent and tonight we put it all together."
Logan led 32-30 at the break and Scrubb said there wasn't any inspiring halftime speech that led to outscoring the Saluqis 47-33 in the second half.
"We already had the game plan," Scrubb said. "Just play together, take a charge for your teammate."
Scrubb was 11-for-20 from the field and 3-of-7 from 3-point range, while knocking down 5-of-7 free throws.
Johnson was 6-of-8 from the field and 5-of-7 from long range, while Curry was 5-for-6 in the post.
Trace Young added eight points for the Vols, while Eric Boone chipped in with six, Xavier Ball finished with four points, while Jamarion Sharp had a poster dunk for two points and Mark Lancaster tossed in a free throw.
Winning is the best deodorant and after an 0-2 start to the season, the No. 4 nationally ranked Vols and Smithpeters was happy to see his guys respond in a positive manner.
"I'm just ready for this to be a player-coach team. It's early, it's November and I'm really excited about being with this group and we're very talented. The great thing is, we have a lot we can work on and when you have a lot to work on in November, that only means you are going to be really good in March, especially with the type of talent that we have.
"We're trying to feel each other out, we have eight new guys and we're playing really good teams," Smithpeters added. "There aren't any pushovers that we have. It's going to be a bear every night unless we come out and do the things right that we need to do. We're just not quite there yet."
The difference in the second half according to Smithpeters: defense
The Vols held Southwest Tennessee to 50 percent shooting as the Saluqis were 13-of-26 from the field and 25-for-55 in the game. Southwest Tennessee went 3-for-11 from behind the arc and were 9-of-23 in the game.
Additionally, Logan out rebounded the opposition 29-26, including 19 on the defensive end. The Vols came up with six steals, while blocking three shots and forcing 15 turnovers.
"We got some energy because we turned defense into offense," Smithpeters said. "We -- finally after three games -- started hitting guys in transition that were getting to where they needed to in the open spot. We're spoiled -- we're used to guys like David Sloan making that happen, or Jonah Jackson getting to that corner or Vonnie Patterson trailing that play. Now, we have a brand new group trying to learn with one returner (Scrubb).
"They are testing my patient level, which is good. They are making me a better coach from the standpoint of what chemistry works and what rotations work."
Up next for the Vols is a trip to Vincennes, Indiana, where they will play in the Sodexo Classic, taking on Columbia State Friday and Kankakee Saturday.
Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois Local Media News Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.