Ex-UAPB coach brings new team in

UAPB Coach Solomon Bozeman sends Shaun Doss back on the court during the Jan. 23 home game against Grambling State. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)
UAPB Coach Solomon Bozeman sends Shaun Doss back on the court during the Jan. 23 home game against Grambling State. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)

The record does not indicate how tough Mississippi Valley State University has played its opponents in men's basketball this season.

While the Delta Devils are 2-20 and 1-7 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, seven of their losses have been decided by fewer than 10 points, including a 1-point loss at Florida A&M University on Jan. 16 and 4-point decision against Grambling State University last Saturday.

The close calls are also signs George Ivory is intent on turning around his alma mater's program in his first full season as head coach.

"I just think we have to finish games," Ivory said Friday. "We're playing good for 35, 36 minutes, and we've got to finish those types of games out. If we can play 40 minutes, we'd have a good record."

Ivory and the Devils can exceed last season's win total with a win today at his previous workplace, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Tipoff is 5:30 p.m. at H.O. Clemmons Arena, following the 3 p.m. game between the Lady Lions and Devilettes.

Ivory, the Golden Lions' head coach from 2008-21, is returning to Pine Bluff for the second time in as many years. He had just taken over Valley's team in the interim last February with three games remaining after Lindsey Hunter was placed on administrative leave (and then resigned), but went 0-3.

In the last meeting, Shawn Williams scored 34 points in carrying the Lions to a 93-79 win. This time, Ivory has an old weapon of his to worry about n . . . Shaun Doss Jr.

Doss, the 6-foot-5 graduate student from Marion, is the reigning SWAC Player of the Week. He averaged 26.5 points against Southern University and Grambling State last Saturday and Monday, respectively, going for 30 in the latter. The guard/forward leads the SWAC in scoring at 17 points per game.

Doss transferred back to UAPB after one season at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.

"Doss is an exciting basketball player," Ivory said. "A better person than he is a basketball player. We just have to try to guard him and hope he has a bad night."

That's a tall order.

"I think he's been in the gym every day putting in extra work," second-year Lions Coach Solomon Bozeman said of Doss. "[Assistant] Coach [Bryan] Sherrer has been doing extra work with him. We've got him scheduled to work out twice with us each day. He's putting in the extra effort and paying extra attention to details to his game and how he can score."

Ivory is not the only familiar face to Pine Bluff on Valley's roster. His son George III is a reserve guard, and junior forward Alvin "A.J." Stredic has started in each of his 15 appearances but is coming back from an injury, the coach said. Both previously played at UAPB.

"Both of them came in this summer and were able to work out and see the Valley life," Ivory said. "We're looking for A.J. to step up more but he's been battling a couple of injuries."

Also, former Lions assistant Alan Perry is working under the elder Ivory at Valley.

UAPB's 77-70 home loss to Grambling on Monday ended a 5-game winning streak, and it didn't help the Lions that they fell into a 13-0 hole against the Tigers, who are a half-game ahead of the Lions for third place in SWAC standings. (UAPB is fifth, 1.5 games behind Southern.)

"We just got to come out and compete at a high level," Bozeman said. "We understand how we have to be defensively, and we didn't play the type of defense we're capable of."

Bozeman also took note of Valley's close calls, calling the Devils "capable" of winning in the SWAC.

"The No. 1 thing I told our guys is that they've been in every game and we're still trying to build," Bozeman said. "I think Coach Ivory's done a great job with them. We can't take them lightly.

They've been right there. We just need to make sure we can get the job done."

  photo  Mississippi Valley State Coach George Ivory yells out instructions during a Feb. 26, 2022, game at UAPB. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)

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