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Troy State men battle early season injury bug

Sports Editor

Troy State head coach Don Maestri is having to deal with some early season injuries on his men’s basketball team.

As a result, the Trojans (3-3) haven’t been playing their best basketball as of late.

"Our chemistry is not where we’d like it to be," Maestri said.

The Trojans have suffered through two straight losses to both Samford and Utah.

But Maestri admitted that even though TSU beat arch rival Jacksonville State on Nov. 29, 70-52, it was by no means a dominating effort.

"These last three games we haven’t played well defensively and offensively we haven’t executed well," he said.

Much of TSU’s problems have to do with starting forward Donnie Pemberton’s notable absence since the loss to Samford. Pemberton is recovering from a stress fracture in his leg as well as an injured back.

"He (Pemberton) wanted to play against Samford and we let him, but he really wasn’t able to go," said Maestri. "Just his presence on the court makes us better and we miss that."

Maestri said Pemberton was scheduled to practice on Thursday and could return to the lineup on Saturday against Nicholls State.

Along with Pemberton, junior transfer Marcus Millhouse (6-4, 170) is still recovering from a knee injury, but should be ready to play soon. Without those two players, Maestri said the Trojans have had to practice four-on-four the past few weeks.

"It’s difficult to get better on both offense and defense when you’re doing that," he said. "We’ve been unable to get our starters set and our substitution patterns ironed out, because we didn’t know who we’d have."

While the Trojans are hurting right now, Maestri said it’s better to have injury problems happen early in the year then later on.

"You don’t want to have this happening in the last seven or eight games of the year," he said.

The Colonels enter Saturday’s game in Trojan Arena at 1-6 on the year. However, Maestri said you can’t put too much emphasis on Nicholls State win-loss record.

"They’ve played the money games," he said, referring to Colonels’ contests this season at Mississippi State, UNLV and Michigan State (all losses by a combined score of 284-151). "They’re deceptive. We played them last season after exams, just when they got one of their best players eligible, and he led them in scoring. It’s the same situation this year so they’ll not be a totally different team on Saturday night."

The Colonels’ Arthur Haralson scored 26 points a year ago in Thibodaux, La., as Nicholls State beat Troy State 81-77.