Jaguar men’s basketball team holds televised practice

Darren Lucas-White goes up for layup as Jack Johnson (L) defends during Augusta’s televised basketball practice Thursday. Coach Dip Metress (in yellow shirt) watches from beyond the three-point line. (photo by Justin Brosemer)

By Justin Brosemer |
Sports writer

Coach Dip Metress and the Augusta University men’s basketball team held a practice that was televised by SUVtv on Thursday, Nov. 5.

This practice, on the fifth day of the preseason, follows the Peach Belt Conference’s announcement of the 16-game conference season beginning in January 2021.

The players and coaches have been required to strictly adhere to precautions made by the NCAA Sport Science Institute. These regulations include COVID-19 testing weekly, a mandatory 14-day quarantine for positive tests and masks being required for all non-players. Metress spoke about how a player’s COVID-19 case could affect the team and season post-practice.

“It’s going to be really hard on the players this year,” Coach Metress said after the practice. “Guys are going to have to play different positions and minutes. We’re just going to have to take the punches and roll with them.”

Following an 21-8 season paired with lengthy offseason consisting of limited practice and training, the men’s team was very eager for the opportunity to begin practice. Thursday’s practice was live-streamed to the public so that player’s families and friends could view it while adhering to the NCAA’s coronavirus stipulations.

The Nov. 1 practice allowance date is forcing teams to expedite their game plans and adapt as they progress towards the impending season that may arrive sooner than some expect.

“Usually we would be playing here in a couple of days,” Coach Metress said. “Well, this year it’s November, and we don’t even have our offense down yet.”

The Jaguars worked primarily on fundamentals and defense during the practice, with 3-on-3 and 4-on-3 situations. They also worked on shooting.

The team will feel the loss of the AU alum and former player Rafael Monteiro, now plays professionally in Brazil. He was all-conference performer last season.

However, returning upperclassmen such as Tyshaun Crawford, Tyree Myers, Darren Lucas-White and Miguel Arnold led by example in Thursday’s drills and walking-through plays. As the start date to the season inches closer, the men’s team will be able to participate in up to three scrimmages before the projected January 2021 conference season start. Additionally, teams will be able to add on six out-of-conference games to their 16 game in-conference season at their discretion.

“We’re just excited for the opportunity to be out here and to play,” Metress said. “We are dealing with an unprecedented situation here with the pandemic, but I think all of us are just happy to be in some practice gear today. Everything rests upon starting this season as soon as possible, hopefully December or January.”

After a disappointing finish in last year’s Peach Belt Conference tournament with a quarterfinals exit against Georgia College, the AU men’s team readies to pursue its seventh conference championship and yet another bid to the NCAA regionals under Metress.

The AU coach said he is still working on adding the six non-conference games and those scrimmages. However, Metress said it was hard to get opponents at this late date.

Forward Lee Flenor (in blue) slams home a dunk while Tyshaun Crawford (L) and John Whitehead defend. (photo by Justin Brosemer)

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