While all the buzz around the Hattiesburg campus is that Southern Miss has finally put the Memphis losing streak to rest, at practice today, it was back to business as usual for the Golden Eagles (20-3).
This team has developed an identity of toughness, poise, and a trust in one another. Mills said it is that focus that allows them to continue to improve every practice.
Jonathan Mills has been a huge part of that. Brought to Southern Miss through a connection with an assistant coach, he has been just what this team needed on the inside.
"I was recruited by Coach Hodge," he said. "I was a late signing, and I wasn't even on scholarship at first. I was committed to Chicago State out of Eastern Utah, but then I decommitted.
"When Coach Hodge got the job as an assistant, he knew me and let me know he was here at Southern Miss. He said I was the type of player Coach Eustachy liked, and it was just perfect for me."
His new coach was just what he needed. "He has helped me so much on and off the court," he said. "He knows how to push you as a player, and knows how to motivate you to be your best. It is the perfect place for me."
He talked about getting the early morning Saturday work-out.
"We got back to work today, we got after again working on rebounding and learning our break," he said. "Defensively we are working on staying on top and keeping everything in front. The focus was real good today."
While the big win gave the entire program a big lift, Mills says there is more to this season.
"That win felt great, and it is something we will always remember," he said. "We won it and it is over though, you have to win one and then get better so you can win the next one."
He did comment about the electric atmosphere not seen in Reed Green Coliseum in quite some time.
"It shows that we have a great support system here at Southern Miss and that we can keep working and get more wins for our fans," he added.
Mills has been a key contributor to a team that needed some guys to step up after major losses last season. The Chicago native is the kind of guy that is an ideal fit to the Eustachy system.
"I love my role right now," he said. "I try to do the things that people don't do a lot of right now. They like to play on the peremiter, but I like being around the basket rebounding and defending."