Northwestern State coach Mike McConathy told his team what many head basketball coaches are likely saying after one week of practice.
There were times the Demons looked really good, and times where the newness and unfamiliarity of working in essentially eight newcomers showed.
“I think we have a lot of ability and talent, but the challenge is to play together and do the little things that are important,” said McConathy, who starts his 21st season at NSU, one of just eight active coaches in Division I that have been with their programs for that long. “The things that always hamper teams – are you going to block out, rebound, make one more pass to the open shooter? Are you going to over dribble the ball and put yourself in a position that takes away from the rest of the team?
“We have to understand what we can do and what we can’t do.”
The Demons return three players with double-digit starts – senior guard LaTerrance Reed (29 starts), junior guard C.J. Jones (23 starts and 26 appearances) and center Larry Owens (11 starts) — from the 2018-19 team that increased its win total by seven from the previous season.
NSU has other returners with experience like senior guard Jacob Guest (60 career appearances), junior guard John Norvel (31 appearances) and sophomores Dalin Williams (30 appearances) and Brian White (11 appearances).
The Demons are prepping for its season opener Nov. 5 at home against Centenary.
“LaTerrance is doing a nice job of being verbal, and we want more guys to be vocal,” McConathy said. “John Norvel gives you everything he’s got every day – he plays with a warrior’s heart.
“For both the older and younger guys, we have to understand that we have to stay within ourselves. But everybody can lead, can communicate, can defend and can rebound.”
Mix in those eight newcomers, including junior Chudier Bile who redshirted this past season after transferring from Bradley, and McConathy thinks he has valuable pieces.
Junior college transfers Jamaure Gregg, Jairus Roberson, Gatdoar Kueth and Trenton Massner will have opportunities to play key roles on the floor.
Freshmen Jovan Zelenbaba and Greek twins Nikos and Robert Chougkaz have also flashed potential.
“(Gregg) is doing a wonderful job in a lot of different areas,” McConathy said. “Roberson and Massner have shot really well.
“Robert and Nikos are finding their way. Nikos at times is phenomenal offensively. Robert is a sneaky guy in that he can get a key rebound or make a key play. It’s just all about getting a total grasp on what the game is about.”
CREDIT: NSU Photographic Services