Francis has Prairie View in right direction

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 8, 2003

If Prairie View head coach Jerome Francis keeps this up, the first-year head coach might have an aneurysm.

His passion on the Panthers’ sideline in Saturday’s win over Alcorn 77-70 was intoxicating, but assuredly was one to be feared.

Francis has a magnificent pedigree, including having been an assistant coach and playing at Ohio State.

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&uot;Coach has worked us all summer bringing us out on the track for conditioning,&uot; said junior college transfer Malachi Thurston, who scored 26 in the win.

&uot;We’ve been going at it. We’re not where we want to be, but we’ll see where the season takes us.&uot;

So far the ride through Southwestern Athletic Conference play has been cozy.

After handling the Braves Saturday, Prairie View invaded Seymour Gym in Baton Rouge and upset Southern on two Thurston free throws with less than six seconds remaining.

That makes the Panthers (3-7) 2-0 to begin the 2003 SWAC season.

Prairie View’s non-conference record is somewhat deceiving when you factor three straight losses to teams who either occupy or have occupied a spot in the top 25 polls at one point this season (Oklahoma, Texas A&M and LSU).

IS THAT SHAQ? &045; There is no striking resemblance to the current Lakers and former LSU big man, but Prairie View’s Roderick Riley certainly is a load in the middle.

The 6-11, 327-pound senior came into Saturday’s game averaging 7.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

Against the Braves he fell below his scoring average, with just six, but on Monday he busted out for a career-high 27 against the Jaguars.

&uot;I’m proud of the effort the big man showed,&uot; Francis said of Riley.

&uot;He had a big block late and that’s what I want to see from him each and every night.&uot;

SITTING PRETTY &045; Yeah, we know it’s still early in the season and being 2-0 at this point in the SWAC doesn’t mean much.

But don’t hate.

The Lady Braves put away Texas Southern Monday night to start off 2-0 in conference. Both games have come at home, and the biggest games lie ahead on the road.

&uot;It feels good, but we’ve got to keep it up,&uot;&160;Alcorn guard Zandra Hall said. &uot;We’ve got Jackson State there next weekend, and we know it’s going to be a hard one. We’ve got to put this one behind us and look forward to Jackson State next week.&uot;

Yep, that is Jackson State on the road Saturday, and Lady Braves head coach Shirley Walker admitted she had to ask assistant Perry Fletcher who was up next after the hard-fought win over Texas Southern.

After that, the Lady Braves head to Grambling Monday before playing two more at home the following weekend.

&uot;No doubt about it &045; it’s great to be 2-0 at this point,&uot; Walker said.&160;&uot;It’s just trying to stay at this point. We’ve got a lot of things we’ve got to take care of.&uot;

DIGGING THE POST &045; The guards may have triggered the Lady Braves’ win over TSU, but you can’t overlook the contributions inside that allowed the guards to get open.

Sophomore post Tnonealyer Powers finished the game with a double-double with 23 points and 12 rebounds.

And the defense came through late in the game as well.

&uot;Powers played real good defense,&uot; Walker said.&160;&uot;That’s what we’re trying to get all of our people to do, especially down low. She took a lot of pain down there, and that’s what I really admire about her.&uot;

Adam Daigle contributed to this report.