Maurice Bolden is fairly indicative of what Southern Mississippi's team is all about-young, developing talent with amazing physical ability mixed with a lack of experience.
He's a 6-10 sophomore swingman who sat out last season following his transfer from Marion (Ala.) Military Institute. His weight is up to around 200 pounds, and he's averaging 12.3 points and 6.9 rebounds.
He's a physically gifted player who can run the court, hit outside shots and fly to the goal.
Sai'Quon Stone, who served as the Eagles' top swingman the last three seasons, said Bolden is special.
"Guarding him in practice is the worst thing ever," Stone told local media. "He's unguardable in practice. He can handle the ball. He can dribble. He can shoot anywhere on the court. He makes free throws so you can't foul him. He rebounds on both ends. If not Gary Flowers, he's our best player all the way around. He's just got to get more vocal and he's going to get us where we need to go."
USM coach Larry Eustachy agrees.
"Basketball is his life," Eustachy said. "It's really important to him. He's a special kid. I have not had anybody with his talent ever that is as self-motivated to become a great player."
Bolden said he just wants to fit in to Eustachy's style.
"(Eustachy) doesn't mind me shooting, but he wants me to be more aggressive and help with rebounding," Bolden said. "I've got a lot to learn. I feel like I'm progressing by the day. I've still got a lot to learn, but I'm willing to learn."
• Head Coach Larry Eustachy is in his sixth season as the leader of the Southern Miss basketball program and needs just six more victories to record his 350th career win.
• USM lost for the first time at home this year on Saturday after five straight home victories. The Golden Eagles have now lost a season-long three straight games and five of the last six.
January At A Glance: Four of the first six conference games are on the road, so Eustachy's biggest fear is starting so poorly in C-USA play that he mentally loses his team by the time February rolls around. Two-point losses like USM had on Saturday against Memphis can be confidence-boosters only if the Golden Eagles start winning some of those close ones.
Quote To Note: "We struggled in the first half, but I give our team a ton of credit for coming out and playing as good a half as we have played this year. I'm really proud of this team's effort. They know the mistakes that they made. They are awfully hurt right now, but you move on."-USM coach Larry Eustachy after his team's 59-57 loss to Memphis on Saturday
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Season Recap: USM is looking for that one signature win to turn things around. Beating Memphis could have been that win but with the game tied at 57-57 with 5.2 seconds, USM didn't get the favorable call. Memphis guard Willie Kemp drove and lost his balance, crashing into USM guard Sai'Quon Stone. Stone was called for a blocking foul and Kemp hit the two free throws that sealed the Memphis win. "He ran right over Sai'Quon Stone," USM coach Larry Eustachy said. "You just watch the film. If that's a charge, we go to the other end and shoot the free throws and win the game. But we put it in the ref's hands and you don't do that. You make plays before that."
Recent Starters -
G Sai Quon Stone,
F Gary Flowers
F Andre Stephens.
G Maurice Bolden
G Buchi Awaji.
Vanderbilt 82, Southern Mississippi 46
Marshall 76, Southern Mississippi 63
Memphis 59, Southern Mississippi 57
vs. Cal State Bakersfield, Tuesday, Jan. 12.
at UTEP, Saturday, Jan. 16.
at UAB, Wednesday, Jan. 20.
vs. East Carolina, Saturday, Jan. 23.
at Tulane, Saturday, Jan. 30.
In Focus: It's the little things that have been killing USM. Like in Saturday's 59-57 loss to Memphis, USM gave up eight threes to Memphis guard Elliot Williams, an all-time high allowed by a USM team. The failure to close out on Williams was corrected in the second half when Memphis was just 2-of-14 from the field. But the damage had already been done. "We didn't have any idea he was going to come out and shoot like that," USM guard R.L. Horton told the Hattiesburg American. "That's hard to defend. That man-to-man really helped us (in the second half). If we had got to it a little earlier, we could have had a different outcome."
• F Gary Flowers has five double-doubles on the season.
• Senior F Andre Stephens needs 42 rebounds to become the 24th player in USM history to grab 500 career rebounds.
• G Maurice Bolden scored in double figures 10 of 15 games this season.