Two takeaways from ASU’s Basketball Media Day

Mason Smith, Sports and Intramurals Editor

MONTGOMERY, Ala.- The ASU men’s basketball team recently had a media day, where head coach Mo Williams and senior guard D.J. Heath talked about the upcoming season. A lot of things were discussed, but here are the two ideas to take away from the interviews.

The Difference in Culture

The team is transitioning from the Lewis Jackson era, which was in place for almost 20 years. While they did have some success, the overall performance of the team wasn’t great (five consecutive losing seasons), and with the postseason ban due to APR performance, some off-court situations need addressing as well.

Now, with Coach Mo leading this group of young men, he’s made it clear that he’s in support of his players, but will also have certain expectations of them. “I’m laid back in a lot of ways,” Williams said, “but at the same time, you know, I know how to get my point across.” The coach is heading into the season prepared to teach men, but he didn’t hesitate to mention if they act like kids, “we can do that also.”

The sentiments are echoed by Heath, who when asked about the team expectations, the first thing he said was “change the culture.” He was more focused on making sure that not only he does well, but his new head coach does well in his first season. It’s disappointing to think the team won’t get a shot at the postseason, but Heath still has his sights set on other goals, like winning the SWAC and becoming “legendary.” Heath went on to say the new head coach, who has 13 years of NBA experience, is teaching them how to be pros as well. “It’s one of the most important things,” Heath said, “and not just pros on the court but off the court as well, being a professional at all times.”

The players and the coach are working to build the program, and Coach Mo said it hasn’t been easy, but he has the end in sight. “At the end of the day, once your culture is created, that’s how you win basketball games, that’s how you stay together.”

An Entertaining Offense and Solid Defense

ASU’s roster is versatile and athletic. Each player brings a different skill set, from big men who can stretch the floor to guards who play above the rim. The plan is to use that deep rotation to play a more uptempo style of play.

Coach Mo spoke on the depth of his team, “Do I have a starting five in my head? No… I’m continuing to let these guys compete and get better. I see us being deep, I see us playing a lot of different lineups.” Four of the five leading scorers are no longer on the roster, which means Heath, Brandon Battle (who was third with 6.8 PPG) and the revamped roster will have to step up and fill the void.

The defensive end projects to be solid, something ASU is known for over the past few years. “They want us to play aggressive on the defensive end,” Heath explained, as he discussed the plan for that end of the floor. “Communicating, helping each other out, really playing help defense. Like they say… defense turns to offense so we’ll be fine.” Alabama State should have success playing defense this year, and eyes will be on transfer Kareem Clark, who’s shown on tape that he can be an anchor as an on-ball defender.

The Hornets will kick off the season in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, as they plan to take on ACC opponent Wake Forest in the opener of the Wake Forest Classic. The planning, practice and effort will be put to the test, and the Mo Williams era at Alabama State will officially begin.