HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Jay Ladner knew Southern Miss would experience some growing pains in his first season leading his alma mater.
The key, though, is Ladner sees growth in his team from game one to game ten. The Golden Eagles (3-7) enter Saturday’s rematch with North Florida following their first Division I win this season.
USM overcame a 17-point deficit to beat Southern Illinois 72-69 on Saturday. The rest of the schedule has proved challenging, including two top 25 matchups in the Eagles’ trip to the Bahamas.
Southern Miss’ 2 p.m. contest with UNF on Saturday is the first of three non-conference games before it begins Conference USA play against Louisiana Tech on December 30.
“We could’ve played a much softer schedule and had a much sexier win-loss record but on the other hand I don’t think that would’ve helped get us ready for league play,” Ladner said. “What you have to remember is sometimes winning covers up the stink. There’s an old saying in coaching. That you win, okay well that’s it. Well that’s not really the case all the time. Sometimes by losing it’s not all bad. You’re actually improving and getting better.” “I feel like with this last ten [games] we have become better,” said USM senior forward Leonard Harper-Baker. “Especially with the last game, getting a win and stuff. I feel like that’s motivation coming into the next upcoming game. Overall, we’re gelling at a good pace. I feel like come conference time we’ll be ready.”