Green talks JSU hoops with the Exchange Club
by Paige Rentz
Jacksonville State University men’s basketball coach James Green issued a challenge to the city’s Exchange Club last month: to come out and show their support for the Gamecock basketball team.

Green addressed the club at its biweekly meeting on Oct. 25 at the Village Inn about his efforts to build not just a team, but a program at the university.

“We’re doing it the old-fashioned way,” Green said, noting an emphasis on behaviors off the court and outside of the classroom such as being on time and dressing appropriately. “We try to make sure they represent Jacksonville and Jacksonville State in a positive manner,” he said. “We feel like that’s an education they don’t always get in the classroom.”

When it comes to the classroom, said Green, his players are making strides. “We’ve made tremendous progress,” he said of the team’s academic progress rate, for which the Gamecock’s have been banned from postseason play. “Our score is going to be well above what the NCAA expects it to be.”

Certainly, the team has focused on players’ own academics, but members of both the men’s and women’s teams have been making visits to Kitty Stone Elementary School classrooms as well. The players have been donating time each week to sit in classrooms and read to students, Green said. “It’s good for the young people they see,” he said. “It’s good for the young people who go out.”

Although the team cannot complete in tournament play, Green said his approach to the season is that every game is a winnable game. His goal this year is to chalk up at least a .500 record in league play and in nonconference games, where the Gamecocks will face such opponents as the University of Nevada -Las Vegas, Nebraska, Eastern Michigan and Alabama A&M.

“Our league is a very good basketball league from top to bottom,” said Green, who singled out Ohio Valley Conference teams like Morehead State, who has made it to the NCAA tournament twice since 2009, and Murray State, who has gone five times in the last decade.

“You’ll get the opportunity to see some of the best basketball in the country over at Pete Mathews Coliseum,” he said to those gathered. “That’s what we need,” he added. “People supporting us and to know they really care.”

Often the community waits to show up to games when a team is doing well, he said, but without support, the team “won’t get to a point where we’re scoring 100 points in a game or winning every game.”

“Everybody in here, you’re responsible,” he said, challenging them to show up to games to cheer on the Gamecock team. “We want to make sure we create an atmosphere in our place.”
© 2012