Enterprise State’s men’s basketball team finished its pre-Christmas slate with a 4-7 record and some invaluable experience leading into conference play.
“The guys have played a very difficult schedule — four games against three top 10 national teams,” ESCC coach Jeremaine Williams said Thursday morning. “Playing that schedule, we’re trying to let the guys know we’re preparing for the conference schedule.”
Williams noted the traditional leaders in the ACCC South Division — Coastal Alabama-North, Chattahoochee Valley and the Weevils — are off to slow starts record-wise.
“Coastal-North hasn’t won a game. Us and Chatt Valley have been up and down. It’s because of the strength of schedule,” Williams said. “I always like old-school sayings: To be the best, you have to beat the best.”
Even in the preseason jamborees, ESCC beat No. 12 Daytona State.
“The guys played Shelton State (Dec. 10), which is No. 10 in the country,” the coach said. “They were up 24 and we come back and lose by three.”
That’s been a theme for the Boll Weevils. Four of their seven losses have come by five points or fewer — and three of those were one-possession games.
“Every game I’m seeing improvement. We just have to continue to play hard and take care of the turnovers. That’s been hurting us a lot this first semester, the turnovers,” Williams said. “We’re lacking experience and leadership, but we’re working on that. I just still think our guys will become a powerhouse in the South.”
Williams is encouraged by the pieces he’s assembled. James Pursley, a 6-foot-9, 245-pounder, is a freshman post player. A trio of sophomore guards — Ryan Sanders, Josh Graham and Jarret Jenkins, are good shooters.
“Josh Graham has been inconsistent, but I believe next semester he’ll be more consistent because he’s been in the gym working in this Christmas break,” Williams said.
Sophomore Ryan Davis is the Weevils’ point guard.
“The guys are still trying to learn each other,” the coach said. “I can tell we’re going to be a late-peaking team. I think in conference we’ll be good. Those guys are going to help us a lot.”
Included in that group is freshman guard JuJuan Hayes, an Enterprise High product. Williams likes Hayes’ versatility.
“Coming in, the game was pretty fast for him,” the coach said. “But he’s catching up to the speed and playing very well. Against Chipola, he had 24 points off the bench. He’s just continuing to get better every game.
“He’s made a big turnaround once he got acclimated to the speed of the game. He’s doing a great job and I’m happy for him that he’s made that adjustment as fast as he has. He’s going to have a big role when conference play starts.”
The Weevils return from Christmas break on Dec. 28 and prepare for a Jan. 3 game at ranked Shelton State. Conference play tips off Jan. 7 at Coastal Alabama-South in Bay Minette.
“Our first two conference games are against Coastal-South and Chatt Valley,” Williams said. “Those two and us, we’re always battling. It’s good to go up against them early.”