While the football team was floundering to another loss to go to 0-10, the basketball program was opening in front of a fan base that was eager for some life and energy.
Since being hired as the new head man of Southern Miss basketball, Donnie Tyndall has worked wonders in bringing together a fan base that has not had much interest in basketball.
Right now, it is the biggest show in town.
Here are several things this new staff has done right since being hired to bring energy and excitement to the fan base.
1. Embrace the players who were already in place.
There were only four returning starters for the Golden Eagle basketball team, a team that went to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1991. From day 1, Neil Watson, Jonathan Mills, Cedric Jenkins, and Rashard McGill have been welcomed with open arms, and told how they were going to be used to fit in to what Tyndall likes to do.
His scheme has been altered to fit what is already in place, and the players were made to feel like they were the building blocks of what is to come.
Coach Tyndall took a look at the talents and abilities of each of these players, and has improved them to fit the scheme.
For example, McGill has been given a role fitted just for him, Mills had special attention to develop his offensive game this summer, and Neil Watson was given the keys to be the leader of this team.
This is just a few examples, but there are many more. Player strengths were embraced, and it is evident in the way the team has come together.
2. Reach out and engage the students and fan base.
Coach Tyndall has taken every opportunity to speak to the community, meet the students, and build the fan base. You'll not see a staff be more visible in the community than this one. Perhaps most important is the way he has challenged the students to be vocal and supportive of the team.
This was evident in the turn-out last night. The students showed up, they were in the game, and they were loud. By doing this Coach Tyndall has allowed the entire community to buy in to the success of the program.
In contrast to the previous coaching staff, Coach Tyndall has been approachable and very in touch with his fan base.
3. Addition by subtraction.
Two very talented players were released early before the season that could have provided depth and upgraded the talent. The problem, however, is that they did not buy in to the system.
Coach Tyndall released both and the team is just that, more of a team.
The courage to do the right thing has already paid dividends.
4. Believe great things are possible, and get others to buy in.
Coach Tyndall came in with the goal of getting to the Sweet 16, and he has fans and players believing it. Southern Miss needs a coach with vision and passion, and DT has both. He not only cast a vision that this is possible, but he is taking those steps through hard work in recruiting, and building a system that can attract those players to buy in.
Hardwood club memberships doubled before this season, and there is reason to believe it will only continue to grow as the team continues to work.
5. Leave no stone unturned in recruiting.
Coach Tyndall went after the best player in Mississippi, and he kept the Eagles in the hunt for him even up to the final day.
He's used connections to find players in Wyoming, Georgia, and has prospects in California and Florida. Even with all this, the main focus is winning the in-state battles, something Coach Tyndall is not shying away from.
6. Believe in Southern Miss.
Coach Tyndall has come in and has embraced every aspect of what Southern Miss has to offer. He's taken his prospects to football games to embrace their tradition, is an ambassador for the University, and has always seen the good in what the school can be.
Instead of trying to make Southern Miss into something they are not, Coach Tyndall sees what Southern Miss is, and believes he can use that to his advantage. This is also a striking contrast to the previous regime.
7. Energy, energy, energy
To be successful at a school like Southern Miss that is not handed money and resources, you have to be proactive in going out to get it. Coach Tyndall makes things happen by being passionate in everything he does. It is infectious, and the community is catching it.
8. Work hard and results will come.
To a man, the players have each talked about how hard the practices are, and how great of condition they are in. There is a saying that rings true, "fatigue will make a coward out of anyone." There will be no cowards on this basketball team this year.
Against Western Kentucky, Coach used a rotation of 8 players, and they stayed fresh even in a very up tempo style. The hard work and conditioning is paying early dividends and certainly Will Down the line.
Sure, its only been one game. However, there is no arguing that the success of what this staff has done goes beyond wins and losses. There is anticipation and excitement again. There is a fan base rallying around a team that has the opportunity to do great things at Southern Miss.
Perhaps, March will be a time for madness and not just the start of baseball season any more in Hattiesburg.