The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Mustangs ready to host SMU Invitational this weekend

Following their 20-point loss to TCU on Tuesday, the SMU men’s basketball team returns to Moody Coliseum still in search of their first win of the season.

“I think our guys are afraid, and they have got to be tougher,” head Coach Matt Doherty said. “At the end of the day I recruited them here, so I’ve got to make them tougher.”

Posting an 0-2 start for the second consecutive season, SMU starts a five-game home stand on Friday afternoon, beginning with a three-game series as part of the SMU Invitational featuring Portland State, UC Riverside and Lamar University.

SMU returns most of its starting lineup from last season, but is missing two out of three of the team’s leading scorers from last year.

Following the loss to TCU, Doherty mentioned the potential to start three players who currently reside on the bench, still waiting to be ruled eligible by the NCAA.

Justin Haynes, Robert Nyakundi, Papa Dia, Jeremiah Samarrippas and Mike Walker started against TCU, but Friday’s game could present the crowd with a different starting lineup.

“I think [Dia], [Ryan Harp], [Walker] and [Haynes] need to be tougher. Unfortunately we have four guys on our bench that would probably start. I have what I have,” Doherty said.

Freshman Richmonds Vilde was initially expected to appear in the starting lineup, but instead freshman guard Jeremiah Samarrippas and senior guard Collin Mangrum have seen minutes in both games.

Doherty is however expecting Richmonds to appear in the lineup sooner rather than later this season.

Fortunately, Samarrippas has shown potential since day one and has continued to do so, according to Doherty to “show toughness” and prove “he’s not afraid.”

In his two starts, Samarrippas has averaged eight points and six turnovers, and already recorded four steals on the season.

Friday’s game against Portland State marks the Viking’s first road game of the season. Portland State appears to be the better team on paper, shooting 42 percent from the field compared to SMU’s 38 percent shooting, but Doherty hopes the team’s productivity and personality will change in time for Friday’s tip off.

“You can not completely change someone’s personality, but we’ll figure out a way to get them to be tougher. They have to be productive and they are not,” Doherty said.

Saturday’s game against UC Riverside (1-1) could be problematic for the Mustangs, as the Highlanders hit the road for the second time this season in the wake of an 81-48 win over Pomona-Pitzer.

The Highlanders, who scored 39 points off opponent turnovers, also shot 44 points in the paint and 52 percent from the field.

In comparison, SMU has allowed their opponents to score 46 combined points in turnovers and has only been averaging 38 percent from the field and 30 percent in three’s.

Lamar University, the Mustangs’ opponent on Sunday, has just one game under their belt, but hit the road for the first time this season with an 1-0 record and could also be a tough matchup for SMU.

Lamar, who went on to defeat Lyon College 115-57 in their season opener, had four players reach double figures in scoring, with two players scoring over 20 points.  

The Cardinals shot 53 percent from the field but also excelled on defense, collecting 20 steals in one game and forcing 34 turnovers.

Last season, SMU went 0-2 before winning two consecutive games at Moody Coliseum and have struggled in back-to-back games, going 0-3 in their last consecutive-game series last season in Hawaii.

SMU posted a 10-7 record on their home court last season. The Mustangs have another month of non-league games scheduled before Conference USA play begins on Jan. 8 against the University of Memphis at Moody Coliseum.

 

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