Team preview: Jackson State

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

Jackson State coach Tevester Anderson has a simple recipe for SWAC success -- one cup guards, add a half teaspoon of guards, and throw in a pinch of, you know, guards.

"This league is similar to the Ohio Valley Conference," said Anderson, who coached OVC stalwart Murray State for five years before arriving in Jackson. "These conferences are guard conferences. The team that has the most guards, the better guards, generally is there at the end. Southern had the best guards in the conference last year. They won."

Anderson's Jackson teams haven't been there at the end yet, and the league title has eluded him so far. For three seasons, the Tigers have bumped into semifinal obstacles -- like Southern, who put them out of last season's SWAC final four -- but his preferred blend (or "T-Ball," as he likes to call it) has resulted in a fair number of league wins. The Tigers haven't finished lower than fourth in the league on his watch, and they've always been up-tempo and exciting.

Last year's backcourt-heavy team put together the best non-conference record in the SWAC (4-8), defeating Southlanders Stephen F. Austin and Texas-San Antonio, as well as Atlantic Sun co-champion Lipscomb. The Tigers tied for fourth in the SWAC and led the league in guard-like statistics -- steals (9.1 per game) and lowest turnover rate (19.6 percent). They were also the second speediest team in the SWAC, averaging 77.1 possessions per 40 minutes.