The Southern Miss Golden Eagles have some unfinished business after a stunning end to 2022-23.
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It’s hard to be disappointed after nearly swapping your loss total from two seasons ago for your win total last season, but an unexpected upset in the Sun Belt Tournament can leave a sour taste in your mouth. Southern Miss won 25 games last season after winning 24 games total in the three seasons prior. It’s taken some patience, but Jay Ladner finally has the Golden Eagles in prime position. Now, the goal is to finish the job and get to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 12 seasons.
In order to repeat that success, the Southern Miss Golden Eagles will lean heavily on transfers and guys who haven’t contributed much in the past. Luckily, they still have Austin Crowley, who exploded onto the scene after transferring from Ole Miss. The Sun Belt is competitive, so it won’t be easy, but the pieces are in place to do it again.
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Head coach: Jay Ladner (10th season, 5th at Southern Miss)
2022-23 record: 25-8 (14-4)
2023 postseason finish: Lost to UAB, 88-60, in first round of NIT
Notable non-conference games: Akron (November 10th)
PG: Austin Crowley (6-5, 184, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 16.0 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.9 SPG
SG: Neftali Alvarez (6-0, 196, Gr.-Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 7.8 PPG, 2.9 APG, 2.1 RPG, 1.7 SPG
SF: Mo Arnold (6-1, 181, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 4.6 PPG, 2.9 APG, 2.9 RPG, , 1.4 SPG
PF: Victor Hart (6-8, 204, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 2.5 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 0.2 APG
C: Victor Iwuakor (6-7, 225, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 3.0 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 0.2 APG, 1.1 BPG (Transfer from UNLV)
6: Donovan Ivory (6-6, 195, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 5.5 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 0.7 APG, 47.3% FG
7: Andre Curbelo (6-1, 175, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 9.6 PPG, 4.3 APG, 2.8 RPG, 2.0 SPG (Transfer from St. John’s)
8: Tegra Izay (7-0, 245, Rs.-Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 1.3 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 0.0 APG, 50% FG, 3 games played (Transfer from La Salle)
9: Lieb Yat (6-11, 220, Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 5.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG (Transfer from Seminole State College)
10: Cobie Montgomery (6-5, 200, Rs.-Jr.)
2022-23 stats: DNP (Redshirted)
11: Jeffery Armstrong (5-11, 171, Rs.-Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 1.0 PPG, 0.4 RPG, 0.4 APG
Southern Miss Golden Eagles MVP: Austin Crowley
They say the grass isn’t always greener, but it certainly was for Crowley last season. He led the team in scoring, which was also fifth-best in the Sun Belt. He also was third in the league in steals, making his mark on both ends of the floor. Crowley won’t be an unknown this season, but the playmaking ability is hard to deny.
Crowley may need to make a bigger impact given all the new faces on the team, but he will also be a great mentor for them given he was in the same situation last season. He is the the unquestioned team leader and will need to be every bit of that for Southern Miss to repeat their success.
Southern Miss Golden Eagles Make-or-Break Player: Andre Curbelo
One reason for optimism with the incoming transfer class is Andre Curbelo. It’s not often you can bring in a former top recruit who has experience in two different power conferences. Now, it remains to be seen if he will get a waiver from the NCAA to be eligible this season, but if he is, there’s tremendous potential there. Curbelo’s issues at St. John’s as well as his injury history is well-documented, but playing at a mid-major level may be the restart he needs. If Curbelo can’t go this year, he will certainly be an important piece going into next season.
Key Analytic: 3-Point Percentage
One area Southern Miss will need to improve on is their shooting from deep. You certainly don’t want to live and die by the three ball, but you also have to have a little bit of a threat there. What’s worse is that the Golden Eagles’ best three-point shooter is gone in Felipe Haase. Crowley is now the team’s best option, but also their only option as it stands now. If someone can step up here, that would make Southern Miss’ offense more well-rounded.
Southern Miss Golden Eagles 2023-24 Projections
Projected Conference Finish: 1st in Sun Belt
Projected Postseason Ceiling: NCAA Tournament – Round of 32