The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 22, 2013

Season of adjustments for Southern's Talbert

By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor

— It’s been a season of adjustments for Missouri Southern’s Jordan Talbert.

First Talbert had to move up from a role player the previous two seasons to one of the Lions’ leaders.

And now, he’s adjusting to a move from the forward position to center.

“The hardest part has been me moving to the ‘5,’ ” Talbert said. “Day in and day out, I’m guarding people much bigger than me now. I’m only 190 pounds, and I’m guarding people who are 230 and 240. This is something really hard, but it’s a role I’ve accepted.”

Talbert, 6-foot-5 junior from Little Rock, Ark., is the Lions’ No. 2 scorer at 13.0 points per game and No. 1 rebounder at 7.4. In addition to ranking fourth in the league in total rebounds, he’s first in offensive rebounds (3.0 per game) and second in blocked shots (1.9).

“You lead by your example, and he’s certainly set the example by how hard he plays,” Lions coach Robert Corn said. “He’s solid defensively and rebounding, and he’s improved his shooting range.”

Combining quickness and timing, Talbert blocked a total of nine shots in the Lions’ two games last week, raising his season total to 28.

“That’s the advantage I have of being quicker,” he said. “That’s something I take pride in. I have to be active on defense.

“Long arms help, too,” said a grinning Talbert, whose arms are the length of those usually found on a 6-9 or 6-10 person.

The Lions (9-6, 4-3 MIAA) are tied for fifth place in the conference standings. They play three of their next four games on the road, starting tonight at Emporia State.

The Hornets (7-7, 2-4) are coming off a 71-60 home victory over Missouri Western on Sunday afternoon.

The Hornets have three starters in double figures, led by two players from Chicago — 6-4 junior guard Kaleb Wright (15.2) and 6-11 junior Paul Bunch (12.9 and 7.9 rebounds). Guard Chris Sights scored 17 against Missouri Western — five above his season average — and Gavin Brown contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.

The Hornets, playing mostly a zone defense, limit their opponents to 64 points per game. The Lions are looking to shoot better than the 40 percent they had against Nebraska-Kearney’s zone in Saturday’s 74-66 home loss.

“Any team you play in the MIAA, they have a chance to beat you,” Talbert said. “We have to put (Saturday’s game) behind us and get ready for the next one.”

Lions junior guard Marquis Addison remains third in the MIAA scoring race (18.5). He’s also second in steals (2.7) and seventh in free-throw shooting (84.1 percent).