Exchangites hear from JSU basketball coaches
Jan 14, 2014 | 750 views |  0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The talk was about basketball at last week’s Jacksonville Exchange Club meeting at the community center. Jacksonville State’s James Green, who coaches the men, and Rick Pietri, who coaches the women, were the guest speakers.

Pietri’s women’s team has compiled a 5-13 overall record, including defeating Eastern Illinois last weekend for its first conference win. In Pietri’s first season as JSU’s coach the team has already bettered last year’s mark of 1-27. Pietri spent the last 13 seasons as the head coach at South Alabama and helped turn the Lady Jags into a contender in the Sun Belt Conference, capturing back-to-back Sun Belt West Division titles in 2003 and 2004.

“We try to bring effort and energy and play the best we can every game,” Pietri said. “Sometimes that’s not enough. However, the final score is how you are judged. Certainly we are better than last year, at least record-wise. And we are getting better each game.

“This is the greatest challenge I have taken on in my career because we are dealing with a prevailing attitude of what was going on in previous years. The juniors on this team have posted a 5-52 record so all they know is results on the underside.

“What has to happen is somebody on the team had to rise up and make something happen.”

The Lady Gamecocks hosted Southern Illinois-Edwardsville last night.

Green is in his sixth season at JSU and the Gamecocks are coming off a 17-11 record last season. They have compiled an 8-12 record this season heading into a Thursday game at home against Tennessee State. They are 2-3 in Ohio Valley Conference play.

“The OVC has gotten better each year we’ve been here,” Green said. “So we are getting better but so is the competition.

“This year we are trying not to go backwards, but to continue to improve. I want us to play hard, play smart. I want our guys to show up every game and know what it takes to win. We have more talent that at any time I’ve been here, but the schedule has been tough.”

Green pointed out the Gamecocks have played Illinois, Auburn and Florida State this season.

“Playing those games help us financially, but I believe that in the long run it helps us to be better. It helps recruiting because guys want to play against SEC and ACC teams.”

Green said Eastern Kentucky, Belmont, Murray State, Morehead and Southeast Missouri appear to have the better teams in the league.

He said the goal is to win the conference and the conference tournament.

“That’s the good thing about tournaments, you never know what can happen,” he said.

He also urged students and fans to come to the games.

“I really know the guys play harder when there’s a crowd,” he said. “Believe me, athletes love to play in front of people and the more people the better.”

Green also said he would like to see a new arena on campus one day.

“That’s one of the key points in selling your program,” he said. “If a student comes here and looks at the facilities and says, ‘WOW’ then we really have something.”
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