Road-weary Trojans return home
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 3, 2007
When the Troy University men's basketball team takes the court today, it will find itself in an unusual position - in front of its home crowd.
The Trojans (5-8, 0-2 Sun Belt) opened the season by playing 10 of their first 13 games on the road, and the road proved to be unfriendly.
Except for three wins on neutral courts, the Trojans have struggled away from the friendly confines of Trojan Arena where they have posted a 2-1 mark this season.
The Trojans will look to run their home win total to three games today, while notching their first Sun Belt Conference win, when they welcome league foe University of Arkansas-Little Rock to Trojan Arena.
“We've played better at home,” Troy University head coach Don Maestri said. “We haven't done a lot of it this season, but the few times we have been home we've had pretty good results. We just haven't been here much.”
That will all change beginning with their showdown with Arkansas-Little Rock (7-7, 2-1 Sun Belt).
The Trojans will play four of their next six games at home - all Sun Belt Conference games.
Maestri is hoping the homestand will help spark a slumping Troy squad that hasn't tasted victory since Dec. 9 when it topped Northern Illinois University 84-81.
The Trojans enter today's showdown just three days removed from an 85-55 loss to ACC foe Georgia Tech.
“There's no doubt we need to find a way to win a ballgame,” the longtime coach of the Trojans said. “We haven't played very good basketball this season, but coming out of the (Christmas) break it's almost like a new season. We have a chance to kind of settle in. We haven't seemed comfortable on the court yet, and I think if we can get a couple of wins under our belts that will change. Winning tends to fix most things.”
Despite the fact that the Trojans trip to Atlanta ended in a 30-point loss, Maestri found a silver lining heading into today's showdown with Arkansas-Little Rock.
“It got us back in our uniforms and back on the court,” he said. “After a 10-day break we needed to play a game. That was the biggest thing. Now, hopefully, we can go out and get a conference win.”
To do so, the Trojans will have to beat a UALR team that has won two of its last three games, including a win over league rivals Denver and Louisiana-Lafayette.
UALR topped the Ragin' Cajuns 59-55 on Dec. 28.
UALR is led by senior forward Rashad Jones-Jenning's 12.1 points and 12.6 rebounds per game.
Junior guard Terrance Atkins is the only other UALR Trojan averaging double figures.
The Little Rock native is averaging 11.6 points per game.
Troy and UALR will square off at 2 p.m. at Trojan Arena.