South Alabama Jaguars Basketball
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South Alabama Jaguars Basketball

South Alabama Jaguars
South Alabama Jaguars wordmark.svg
UniversityUniversity of South Alabama
Head coachRichie Riley (2nd season)
ConferenceSun Belt
LocationMobile, Alabama
ArenaMitchell Center
(Capacity: 10,041)
ColorsBlue, White, and Red[1]
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Home jersey
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Team colours
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Away jersey
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Team colours

NCAA Tournament Round of 32
NCAA Tournament Appearances
1979, 1980, 1989, 1991, 1997, 1998, 2006, 2008
Conference Tournament Champions
1989, 1991, 1997, 1998, 2006
Conference Regular Season Champions
1979, 1980, 1989, 1991, 1997, 1998, 2007, 2008
Conference Division Season Champions
Sun Belt West: 2001, 2006
Sun Belt East: 2007, 2008[2]

The South Alabama Jaguars men's basketball program has competed in the Sun Belt Conference since 1978 when the league was formed. Since 1968, the Jaguars have compiled an overall record of 694-507 (.580). Ronnie Arrow returned as head coach in 2007, succeeding John Pelphrey after the 2006-07 season. In his three seasons succeeding Pelphrey, Coach Arrow was 63-34 (64.9%), and is 177-127 (58.2%) all time at South Alabama. He retired December 19, 2012 and was replaced by Jeff Price on an interim basis. On March 25, 2013, Matthew Graves was named as the new head coach of the Jaguars. On March 8, 2018, Graves was fired after 5 seasons after a 65-96 record with no postseason appearances. Exactly 1 week later, the Jaguars hired former Nicholls State head coach Richie Riley for the job. In Coach Riley's first year at the helm of the Jaguars, he led the program to their first non-losing season since 2013, finishing the year at 17-17.


Mitchell Center in Mobile, Alabama - Home of the South Alabama Jaguars

The University of South Alabama is a public, doctoral-level university in Mobile, Alabama, United States. The school was founded in 1963 and began its men's basketball program in the fall of 1968 under former Auburn standout and Alabama Sports Hall of Fame member Rex Frederick.[3]

USA Basketball Coaching History[4]
Tenure Coach Yrs Won Lost Pct. Conf.
1968-1970 Frederick 2 19 29 .396 -
1970-1975 Taylor 5 75 53 .586 -
1975-1984 Ellis 9 171 84 .671 -
1984-1987 Hanks 3 45 43 .511 -
1987-1994 Arrow 8 114 93 .551 -
1994-1995 Prada 1 8 15 .348 -
1995-1997 Musselman 2 35 24 .614 -
1997-2002 Weltlich 5 81 65 .559 -
2002-2007 Pelphrey 5 80 67 .544 44-40
2007-2012 Arrow 3 63 34 .649 34-20
2012-2013 Price 1 12 8 .600 12-7
2013-2018 Graves 3 37 60 .381 21-36
2018-present Riley 1 17 17 .500 17-17
Totals 42 691 507 .580 -

The Jags have participated in the NCAA Tournament eight times with a record of 1-8. Their last tournament appearance was in 2008 when they lost to seventh seeded Butler 81-61 in the NCAA Birmingham Regional First Round. [4]

The Jaguars have been invited to play in the NIT Tournament four times and have a record of 3-4 in the NIT. [4]

Postseason results

NCAA Tournament results

The Jaguars have appeared in the NCAA Tournament eight times. Their combined record is 1-8.

Year Round Opponent Result
1979 Second Round Louisville L 66-69
1980 First Round Alcorn State L 62-70
1989 First Round
Second Round
W 86-84
L 82-91
1991 First Round Utah L 72-82
1997 First Round Arizona L 57-65
1998 First Round Illinois L 51-64
2006 First Round Florida L 50-76
2008 First Round Butler L 61-81

NIT results

The Jaguars have appeared in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) four times. Their combined record is 3-4.

Year Round Opponent Result
1981 First Round
Second Round
W 74-71
W 73-72
L 68-69
1984 First Round
Second Round
Virginia Tech
W 88-87
L 66-68
2001 First Round Toledo L 67-76
2007 First Round Syracuse L 73-79

CIT results

The Jaguars have appeared in the Postseason Tournament (CIT) one time. Their record is 0-1.

Year Round Opponent Result
2013 First Round Tulane L 73-84


Cliff Ellis was head coach at the University of South Alabama from 1975 to 1984.[5] He was the all-time winning coach in South Alabama history with a 171-84 (.671) record during nine seasons[6] until Coach Ronnie Arrow surpassed him in 2010. When Ellis became head coach, the administrators at South Alabama were thinking of dropping to Division II. Four years later, he had the Jaguars in the NCAA Tournament and six seasons later, they were ranked in the nation's top 10.[6] Ellis, also was the athletic director during part of his tenure, led the Jaguars to three Sun Belt titles, two NCAA Tournament appearances and two NITs.[6]

Former NBA Minnesota Timberwolves coach, Bill Musselman returned to the NCAA after a 25-year absence and led the Jaguars to back-to-back NCAA tournament bids in his two years as coach. Musselman's 1997 South Alabama team went 23-7 and nearly upset eventual champion University of Arizona in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.

Bob Weltlich was named interim coach at South Alabama in 1997 following Musselman's sudden resignation.[7] Weltlich coached the Jags from 1997 to 2002 and compiled a record of 81-65 (.559) and three 20-win seasons. [8]

John Pelphrey spent five seasons as head coach at South Alabama. In 2005-06 the Jaguars defeated Western Kentucky University in the Sun Belt Conference tournament championship game, earning USA's first NCAA tournament bid since 1998. The Jaguars lost to the tournament champions, Florida in the round of 64. In 2007, Pelphrey led the Jags to an NIT birth which resulted in a first-round loss to Syracuse (79-73).[9] South Alabama finished the year with a 20-12 record, giving Pelphrey an overall record of 80-67 with the Jags and an offer to coach for the University of Arkansas in the SEC.[10]

In his first eight seasons as the Jaguars coach, Ronnie Arrow compiled a record of 114-93 (.551)[11] and was named Sun Belt Coach of the Year in 1989 and 1991. [12] His squads led the Sun Belt Conference in scoring four of his seven seasons at South Alabama.[13] His 1988-89 squad set a school and league record 91 points per game average and five of his seven teams tallied at least 80 points per game. [13] Since his return in 2007, Ronnie Arrow has compiled a 63-34 (64.9%) record and became the all-time winningest coach in South Alabama history with a 177-127 record (11 seasons). He also garnered an at-large bid to the 2008 NCAA Tournament, the first for Sun Belt Conference is many years.

Arrow retired December 19, 2012 and was replaced by Jeff Price on an interim basis. On March 25, 2013, Matthew Graves was named as the new head coach of the Jaguars.[14]

On March 8, 2018, Graves was fired after 5 seasons after a 65-96 record with no postseason appearances.[15] Exactly 1 week later, the Jaguars hired former Nicholls State head coach Richie Riley for the job.[16]


Mitchell Center North Entrance

The Mitchell Center 10,041-seat multi-purpose arena was built in 1998. It is home to the University of South Alabama Jaguars men's and women's basketball teams. The 2001 and 2008 Sun Belt Conference men's basketball tournaments were held at the Mitchell Center.

Prior to moving into the Mitchell Center, the Jaguars had played their home games from 1968-1998 at the Jag Gym.


In 1965 the South Alabama Board of Trustees selected the Jaguar as the University's official mascot and during the late 1960s, USA housed a live Jaguar on the campus. However, the University later decided against housing a live animal on campus after Mischka, the jaguar, was accidentally set free on the campus after someone made the mistake of leaving her pen door unlocked. [17]

In the 1971 Retrospect (Yearbook) a person is seen wearing a jaguar costume with a paper mache head covered with spotted fur. By 1972, the costume had changed to a look that showed the persons face and included a fur hat and body. In the late 1970s a mascot-naming contest was held and the name South Paw was chosen. In 1986 USA began its first structured mascot program, building the image of South Paw that exists today. A new costume with an enlarged soft head with comical expression have now replaced the old paper mache head.[17]

Miss Pawla joined South Paw in 1992. Today, the duo of South Paw and Miss Pawla represent the Jaguars at USA athletic competitions and other events throughout the Mobile community. [17]


  1. ^ USA Brand Guidelines (PDF). Retrieved 2016.
  2. ^ "Sun Belt All-Time Standings" (PDF). 2011-12 Sun Belt Conference Men's Basketball Media Guide. Sun Belt Conference. pp. 93-95. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 16, 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  3. ^ "Rex Frederick". Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2007.
  4. ^ a b c "University of South Alabama Directory". "Sports Network". Retrieved 2007.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Head Coach Cliff Ellis". Retrieved 2007.
  6. ^ a b c "Auburn Head Coach Cliff Ellis To Be Inducted Into Mobile Sports Hall Of Fame". April 22, 2003. Retrieved 2007.
  7. ^ "Weltlich Hired". New York Times. October 28, 1997. Retrieved 2007.
  8. ^ "Rebels Face Road Challenge at South Alabama Saturday". December 14, 2006. Archived from the original on October 8, 2008. Retrieved 2007.
  9. ^ "College Hoops". Retrieved 2007.
  10. ^ Smith, Matthew (April 9, 2007). "Report: Arkansas Inks South Alabama's John Pelphrey To Be Next Head Coach". All Headline News. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved 2007.
  11. ^ "Jaguars open 2006-07 season at Fresno Tournament Friday". November 9, 2006. Retrieved 2007.
  12. ^ "Ronnie Arrow, Sheryl Estes preparing Islander basketball teams for fall 1999". IslanderSports. Archived from the original on February 12, 2007. Retrieved 2007.
  13. ^ a b "Ronnie Arrow". Archived from the original on May 26, 2011. Retrieved 2007.
  14. ^ David Woods (March 25, 2013). "South Alabama hires Butler assistant coach Matthew Graves as new coach". Indianapolis Star. Retrieved 2013.
  15. ^ "South Alabama head basketball coach Matthew Graves fired". WKRG-TV. March 8, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  16. ^ "Nicholls State's Richie Riley hired as South Alabama's head coach". Associated Press. March 15, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  17. ^ a b c "The Jaguar Mascot". July 11, 2006. Retrieved 2007.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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