Sean Tingle said he didn’t play very much basketball in junior college, but Arkansas-Pine Bluff coach George Ivory saw enough in him to award him a scholarship.
“We saw him play a little bit in junior college,” Ivory said. “He showed signs that he could be a very good player. He had good footwork.”
The little success Tingle enjoyed playing for Shelton State Community College in Alabama — where he was a 52.4 percent field-goal shooter last season — did not immediately carry over into his time at UAPB, but his recent play doesn’t indicate that.
The 6-foot-9 junior backup center from nearby Tuscaloosa doesn’t post big numbers and rarely plays 10 or more minutes in a game. But he’s proven in recent games to be dependable relief for senior Daniel Broughton in the low blocks.
He’s turning his game around from that of a player who was prone to turnovers at one point and often seemed down on himself after a bad play in practice.
“I just say it was a mindset,” Tingle said. “I wasn’t coming in with the right mindset to get better at times, and these last couple of games, it’s really been hitting me (that) I only have one more year left. So, I really need to start to perfect my game and do what I can so I can go do what I want to do.”
Tingle said his junior college experience contributed to his rough start at UAPB, where he averages 2.5 points, 1.2 rebounds and 7 minutes per game.
“It really brought my confidence down, so I really just messed up minutes and everything else, and I’m trying to build it back up,” he said.
Bob “Hubba Jubba” Moss, UAPB’s volunteer motivation coach once known for his colorful style of officiating basketball and baseball games in the high school and professional ranks, took notice of Tingle’s visible attitude on the court.
“He showed negative emotions anytime he did something bad,” Moss said. “If you make a mistake and you’re thinking about it, you’re liable to make it again.”
So Moss worked with Tingle and instilled in him the value of enthusiasm — which Moss calls his “main topic.”
“We sat down and talked about how great (Tingle) was,” Moss said. “We talk about how important it is to be enthusiastic about what you’re doing and how to appear confident.
“Now, he doesn’t pout when he makes mistakes. Every time we shake hands, we shake hands with enthusiasm. He’ll now look you in the eye.”
Moss also got Tingle to visualize how he practices, even showing him photographs he took of Tingle’s post moves.
“It’s very difficult to sell the athletes on visualization,” he said. “If you can create a routine, look in the mirror and see how to do it right … you know it looks funny, but you see how to do it.”
Tingle was a big factor in UAPB’s five-game winning streak, including an unbeaten four-game homestand. He scored in each game, including a season-high eight points on 4-of-5 shooting against Grambling State and a 6-for-8 free-throw performance against Alabama A&M.
Despite being a 41 percent field goal and 59 percent free throw shooter, Tingle has developed a knack for creating free-throw opportunities and putting opposing big men in foul trouble.
“He’s developing like we thought he would,” Ivory said.