Little Rock Trojans head coach Wes Flanigan led his team to another tune-up victory Monday evening at the Jack Stephens Center, a 100-61 throttling of the University of the Ozarks, a Division III program.
Despite establishing an energetic substitution pace and leading at halftime, the Wofford Terriers could not hold on against the LSU Tigers on Saturday afternoon, dropping a 91-69 decision in the season opener.
The Terriers opened the game with a flash of déjà-vu, when for the second consecutive year a freshman made a statement debut against an SEC front. In 2015-16, star shooting guard Fletcher Magee began his collegiate career with a surprising 22 points off the bench against Missouri, a sign of strong play to come.
It’s a little bit of everything, but all the same.
This season, the Wofford Terriers‘ roster is a mix of veterans, players poised for increased performances, and a large, intriguing freshman class. In spite of the variety, and perhaps the unpredictability that such a team brings, associate head coach Dustin Kerns said the staff’s approach remains unchanged.
Once again, the Wofford Terriers will put their talent to the test in the season’s first two months with a strong non-conference slate.
Wofford, which brings back a healthy mix of returners and an exciting freshman class, released its out-of-conference schedule Monday via Twitter. The Terriers will open the 2016-17 campaign November 11th against the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge, the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
The schedule includes seven road trips and a pair of games against teams which cracked the AP Top 25 sometime last season, including the opener with Johnny Jones‘ Tigers squad and a December 3rd match-up with the Miami (Fl.) Hurricanes.
Wes Flanigan has big shoes to fill in his first year as head coach of the Little Rock Trojans. But that doesn’t mean he’s new to the success.
Flanigan served as associate head coach last season during Chris Beard’s only year at the helm in Little Rock. Beard led the program to its first-ever 30-win campaign, a historic outright Sun Belt title and an exciting run into the NCAA Tournament’s Round of 32.
Little Rock, which plays its home games at the 5,600-seat Jack Stephens Center on campus, enjoyed the nation’s largest percentage rise in attendance last season, with average attendance spiking by over 2,300 fans per game.
Despite being an extremely seasoned squad who return several valuable pieces to the puzzle, the Trojans’ rotation took a definite hit this offseason.
Star everything-guard Josh Hagins, who led the team in points per game (13.2), assists (4.7) and steals (1.5), and who is known best for his late-game heroics against the Purdue Boilermakers in the NCAA Tournament, moved on and is now chasing a dream with the Sacramento Kings in the NBA Summer League.
Roger Woods, the Trojans’ rebound leader and another big-time playmaker, also graduated and inked a deal earlier this month to play professional basketball in Switzerland.
Among the strong returning class are Lis Shoshi, a rangy 6-11 senior forward from Kosovo and Marcus Johnson Jr., who led the Trojans in 3-point shooting with a 47 percent success rate behind the arc last season.
Kemy Osse, a redshirt senior guard from Montreal, Quebec, will likely see his minutes increase along with those of Jalen Jackson and Maurius Hill, whose contributions were limited mainly to those off the bench.
Almost every player on this Little Rock team has game experience, which should help alleviate the stress of transitioning to a new head coach. The Trojans lost some big playmakers, but bring back a great deal of talent, valuable experience and even some new opportunities hidden in the roster.