It's tough sledding for Lions to cut down their turnovers

Posted: November 3, 2017 at 2:45 a.m.

George Ivory's solution to cutting down his basketball team's turnovers is a drag.

Sometimes it's a push.

UAPB men’s schedule

Date;Opponent;Time

Nov. 10;Hawaii^;TBA

Nov. 12;Troy^;TBA

Nov. 13;North Dakota^;TBA

Nov. 18;at Southern Methodist;7 p.m.

Nov. 20;at Air Force;TBA

Nov. 22;Texas State+;TBA

Nov. 24;Pacific+;TBA

Nov. 25;Canisius+;TBA

Dec. 2;at Santa Clara;7 p.m.

Dec. 9;at Oregon State;7 p.m.

Dec. 13;at Fresno State;7 p.m.

Dec. 16;at Weber State;7 p.m.

Dec. 19;at Cincinnati;7 p.m.

Dec. 22;Tennessee-Martin;7 p.m.

Jan. 1;at Mississippi Valley State*;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 6;at Alabama A&M*;5:30 p.m.

Jan. 8;at Alabama State*;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 13;Southern*;7 p.m.

Jan. 15;Alcorn State*;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 20;at Prairie View A&M*;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 22;at Texas Southern*;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 27;Grambling State*;7 p.m.

Jan. 29;Jackson State*;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 3;Alabama A&M*;7 p.m.

Feb. 5;Alabama State*;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 10;at Southern*;5:30 p.m.

Feb. 12;at Alcorn State*;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 17;Prairie View A&M*;7 p.m.

Feb. 24;at Grambling State*;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 26;at Jackson State*;7:30 p.m.

March 1;Mississippi Valley State*;7:30 p.m.

*SWAC game

^at Rainbow Classic, Honolulu

+at Men Against Breast Cancer Showcase, Stockton, Calif.

UAPB 2017-18 men’s basketball roster

NO.;NAME;POS.;CL.;HT.;WT.

00;Dwain Whitfield;F;Jr.;6-6;205

1;Charles Jackson;G/F;Jr.;6-5;210

3;Kennedy McKinney;G;Sr.;6-3;170

10;Quamauri Hardy;G;Fr.;6-3;180

12;Terrance Banyard;F;Fr.;6-8;215

13;Joe’Randle Toliver;G;Sr.;6-4;180

14;Marcus Wallace;G;Jr.;6-1;180

15;Trent Steen;F;Sr.;6-8;225

21;Artavious McDyess;F/C;So.;6-10;215

22;Khalid Campbell;G;So.;6-1;175

23;Martaveous McKnight;G;Jr.;6-6;190

25;Christian Robertson;F;Fr.;6-4;190

30;Cameron Posey;G;Fr.;6-2;180

34;Chris Smith;F;Jr.;6-8;225

35;Travon Harper;F;Sr.;6-8;220

40;J’Breun Sprinkle;G;R-So.;6-2;175

52;David Tillman;C/F;R-Sr.;6-10;225

Two weeks ago, the 10-year University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff coach pointed out to his players the training sled that was beside the bleachers at H.O. Clemmons Arena.

Four weight plates were stacked on the sled's base, where bars and hooks jutted from so that the next player to turn the ball over in practice, Ivory explained, could drag the sled back and forth across the gym.

UAPB's 18.1 turnovers per game last season ranked last in the NCAA -- just higher than Stephen F. Austin, which ranked 347th with 17.5 per game.

The Golden Lions finished a 7-25 season with a six-game losing streak, and the team committed more turnovers (118) than its opponents (86) during that stretch.

"It was a bad season for us," Ivory said. "We weren't taking care of the basketball at the end of ballgames. We'd just be handing it to them. We had to rectify the problems."

Ivory said he "did some homework" and talked to other coaches about how their programs eliminated turnovers.

He combined his research and settled on the sled, which previously had been used for training purposes.

"It's a good reminder," said senior forward Trent Steen, who led UAPB with 9.3 points per game. "We let a couple tough games slip away from us in the last three or four minutes. A turnover would come and bite us. The main thing was a lack of focus. We just tried to make decisions too fast. Not being on the same page."

The losing streak dropped UAPB to 6-12 in Southwestern Athletic Conference play, tied for eighth in the standings with Alabama State.

Only eight teams qualify for the SWAC postseason tournament, and Alabama State won the tie-breaker due to the point differential in their split series during the season.

It was the second time in three years UAPB missed the tournament.

"They put Bamy in and put us out," Steen said sullenly.

Ivory expects a turnaround because the team is his "most veteran ball club" since he started in 2008, and because of the additions of four freshman and junior-college players who should improve their turnover numbers.

Freshman guard Cameron Posey averaged 10 points per game last season for Destiny High (Wis.), which won its state championship.

"We went out and got some guards that can take care of the basketball," Ivory said.

Freshman 6-8, 215-pound forward Terrance Banyard played with Posey at Destiny and scored 22 points in that state championship game.

No UAPB players were named to the SWAC's preseason all-conference teams, and the Golden Lions were predicted to finish eighth out of 10 teams.

"We are not an eight seed," Steen said. "We're a top five for sure in the SWAC. That's really how it goes. The goal is to win."

Sports on 11/03/2017