The Jacksonville Jaguars defeated Lee College 91-85 at Curtis Carroll Fieldhouse last Saturday and in doing so the Jags were able to chalk up their 20th win of the season, with four regular-season games still remaining on the docket.
The significance of the win is that the Jags have posted three-consecutive 20-plus victory campaigns under the guidance of head coach Jody Bailey.
Going into tonights game at Angelina College, the JC men are 64-28 (70%) during the Bailey era, which began on August 19, 2010.
In Bailey's first season at the helm of the JC program the Jags went 24-8.
Last year the JC men posted a 20-13 record.
Currently the team is 20-7 (11-5 in Region XIV).
The final chapters for the 2012-13 team will be written over the next several weeks and in early January a 20-plus win season seemed all but a fantasy for the Jags.
“On Jan. 5th we were 9-5, 1-3 in conference, so collectively our team has been able to turn things around and we have been able to have some consistency on the court,” Bailey said. “That's really been huge for us and we a have been able to achieve that as a team.
“We've had plenty of nights where a couple of guys have had off nights, but there has always been others that were ready to step right in and get the job done.”
Interestingly enough, Bailey stated that he views his job as part heart surgeon and part junior varsity coach — the combination of the two have seemed to work very well thus far.
Bailey, who came to JC after having served as Director of Basketball Operations at the University of Colorado, said that the first thing he has had to do is recruit players that he feels will fit in at JC.
“We have to bring players in that will fit this college” Bailey said. “It's a challenge to do that sometimes, but I accept that challenge and I'm grateful for the players that we have been able to bring in.”
Often players come to JC from gritty and tough neighborhoods in metropolises like New York City or Boston.
“There is a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that goes in in signing players,”Bailey said. “Many of them come from rough environments where they have never worked or never got to know God.
“So the first thing that we have to do is transplant their hearts. As a coach I have to show them that there is a better world through Jesus and that starts with what's in a man's heart.”
Bailey said that he is primarily focused on preparing each of the young men that go through the JC program for the next chapter in their lives.
“I want to be able to catapult them to have a successful life,” Bailey said. “One of the first things I tell these kids is that they are going to make it in life if they will just listen and give me a chance.”
Bailey said that he has found that there is a direct correlation between how his players conduct themselves on and off of the court and that as most begin to lead a more Christ-like life, things begin to look up for them on the court as well.
Junior Varsity Coach
Bailey, who has over 16 years of coaching under his belt, said that he views himself, as well as other junior college coaches, actually as junior varsity coaches.
“We have these kids for one or two years and we are getting them ready for their next school — a four-year school,” Bailey stated.”It's similar to how junior varsity coaches get kids ready to move up to varsity in high school, really.”
And if four former Jags — Malik Smith, Nelson Kirksey, Maurice County and Cory Carden — who graduated from JC last spring at are any indication, Bailey is doing a fantastic job in his self-professed role as a junior varsity coach.
Smith is averaging a team-best 15.3 ppg. at Florida International University (NCAA, Division I) and is in the running for Sunbelt Conference Player of the Year, according to Bailey.
Kirksey has started 14 of Missouri-Kansas City's 27 games and is averaging 7.1 points and 3.3 rebounds a night.
“I remember after the first four days that I was around Nelson Kirksey, I questioned whether or not he was right for our program here,” Bailey said. “His heart changed though as he began to buy into our school's way and he has had nothing but success since then.”
Maurice County has started seven of 22 games at point guard at the University of New Orleans, also a NCAA Division I institution. He is sinking free throws at an 88.3% for the Privateers.
Over a Dallas Baptist University, a NCAA Division II school, Cory Carden, also a point guard, has started 19 of his team's 23 games and has connected at a 45.5% clip from beyond the three-point arc.
Carden also is tied for team lead in steals with 17.
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