Road warriors?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 26, 2009

Following two tough losses to Florida and UAB, the Troy basketball team will look to bounce back today when it opens play in the 2009 Legends Classic.

Troy is playing in one of the Legends Classic regionals in Statesboro, Ga., on the campus of Georgia Southern University.

The Trojans have lost their last two contests by an average of 20 points, and have shot just 36.3 percent from the field during that stretch.

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“We have some shots that are not falling, but Florida really jacked up their defense in the second half and after the first timeout, UAB did the same thing,” said head coach Don Maestri.

The losses have been tough on the team due to the high expectations coming into the season.

“Basketball is a very tough sport in trying to maintain these high expectations for a long period of time,” Maestri said. “The key is how fast can you recover from being down. It may take us a while. We hope it’s the next game, but we can’t be knocked out. We can be knocked down, but we can’t be knocked out.”

One of the reasons for Troy’s struggles is the slow start for all-conference senior guard Brandon Hazzard.

Hazzard has shot just 33.3 percent from the field this season. Against Florida and UAB, Hazzard was a combined 2-21 and 0-8 from 3-point range for just eight points.

Still, Maestri said Hazzard will bounce back at some point.

“You never know when Hazzard is going to break out,” Maestri said.

“He’s made too many clutch shots. The person that we worry about getting down more than anybody else is Brandon.

“We’re sure not getting down on him because we just know this is a long season. We need him to get back into it at a level he’s capable of it, and then everything will be fine,” he added.

Hazzard and the rest of the Trojans will have their first crack at bouncing back today when Troy takes on Arkansas-Fort Smith at 4 p.m.

The Trojans then take on Valparaiso Saturday at 2 and Georgia Southern Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

“Arkansas-Fort Smith has a lot of junior college talent,” Maestri said. “Valparaiso has a lot of tradition and they play in the very tough Horizon Conference. We’re playing Georgia Southern at their place and it’s tough anytime you play at someone else’s court.”

The weekend should provide even more of a test for Troy in the early part of the season, but Maestri said it is a test Troy is capable of passing.

“All three of these games are winnable, but it’s going to take us performing at a higher level than we have been in order to have success against these teams,” Maestri said.

Still, the cure for Troy’s recent ailments is simple, Maestri said.

“There is no better medicine than a victory,” Maestri said.

“That’s the best solution to all of this stuff. It’s not coaching, or motivation or psychology. It’s wins. If we can play poorly and win, it would be great medicine.”