USM Head Basketball Coach Jay Ladner flipping the script in 2023

A player on USM’s 1987 NIT Championship team, the head coach of the 2011 4A State Championship team at St. Stanislaus, and the head coach of the 2014 National Championship team at Jones College, it always felt like a safe bet that Jay Ladner’s success as head coach at Southern Miss was only a matter of time.

But even Ladner now acknowledging time was starting to run out, entering his fourth year back in Hattiesburg.

Nothing came easy in his first season, starting with a global pandemic and spilling into a three year stretch in which his teams went a combined 24-65.

All of a sudden, it clicked in year four to the tune of a 25-6 overall record, more than doubling his win total en route to winning the Sun Belt regular season title and Sun Belt Coach of the Year. Coach Ladner said, “If you would’ve told me last year at this particular day that I would be the Coach of the Year this year, I would’ve said, well, maybe I was coaching in high school or something because I was very close to having to go find me a high school job. So, yeah. It’s just been an incredible turnaround, and again, I have to give all the credit to our staff and players for the turnaround, and if you’d had told me before the season started or during the season that it was going to happen like that, I probably wouldn’t have believed you.”

Southern Miss tips off its Sun Belt Tournament run Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at the Pensacola Bay Center against either South Alabama or Appalachian State.

Categories: Local Sports, Sports