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My Take with Matt Yogus - More to Eagle basketball than wins and losses

My Take with Matt Yogus - More to Eagle basketball than wins and losses

My Take with Matt Yogus - More to Eagle basketball than wins and losses

Matt Yogus


 

Charlton Young and the Georgia Southern Eagles have had a tough go of things — and that’s a massive understatement.

Of the four wins this season, the Eagles have beaten only one Division I team — a 74-72 overtime win over Georgia State at Hanner Fieldhouse — and the closest they’ve come to winning a Southern Conference game was a 92-84 loss at Charleston all the way back in the beginning of December.

The obvious question, one that I’ve been asked numerous times, dating back to last season, really, is, "Why?"

And that is an extremely loaded three-letter question.

I guess the good news, for starters, is that the question is even being asked in the first place. It could be like the case of Western Carolina football, where folks don’t even seem to want to know why the program is at the bottom of the SoCon year-in and year-out. Why are they bad? Well, they just… are.

And that’s not the case with GSU basketball. The Eagles were once one of the dominant programs in the TAAC and earned three trips to March Madness in those days. Sure, Western Carolina football wasn’t always a bottom dweller. In fact, the Catamounts played for a national championship back in 1983. The problem there is that nobody remembers the "glory days" in Cullowhee.

No, in GSU basketball’s case, people remember. In fact, Young himself went dancing with the Eagles in the NCAA tournament as a player, and was a part of the transition when Georgia Southern College left the TAAC for the greener pastures of the SoCon.

So the problem isn’t the desire to win. If GSU football is any indication, fans in Statesboro like a winner, and nobody wants to see the Eagles ascend to the heights of mid-major Division I basketball more than Young.

And he’s gone out recruiting kids over the past year and change with the same attitude. They want to win.

But they aren’t.

Young was a braver man than most when he took the job early in 2009 and inherited a team that was on its way to some pretty major NCAA violations, was in the process of losing two scholarships and was reeling in SoCon mediocrity. He also knew that in the 2010-11 season, he would be lacking those scholarships and that the team — with or without guys transferring out, being injured or coming up academically ineligible — would have to rely heavily on freshmen.

Of course, all of those things happened, but there wouldn’t have been all that much to work with even if they hadn’t.

So it goes without saying — Young inherited a dumpster fire in his first head coaching job.

So here sit the Eagles, at 4-17 and still looking for their first SoCon win. There are only three players left from Young’s first season — a junior-college transfer, a sophomore forward who would have been considered a project even if he had the luxury of a red shirt in 2009-10 and a junior guard playing the point out of necessity, due to an injury to All-SoCon point guard Willie Powers, even though he is built for the two position.

Oh yeah, and the other sophomore is a walkon that was recruited out of the RAC.

So, is CY a bad coach?

Asking that question is like giving somebody a can of expired chicken, a can opener and a lighter and then telling them to make you a meal. They could be a Michelin Star chef or a bus boy at a diner, and either way, all you’d end up with is luke-warm, flavorless chicken and a bad case of salmonella.

So basically, there’s no way to know exactly what Young is capable of as the head of a program. He went out and got some top-shelf ingredients in his first recruiting season, but the stove hasn’t even warmed up yet.

What we do know is that there’s a lot of young talent over there in Hanner Fieldhouse. There is no question that Young is one of the nation’s top recruiters, and he has proven so in the SEC, the ACC and even the SoCon. We know his kids can play some ball, but we won’t know if this ship is turning around until this team becomes a program, and that takes more than a little time when you have to start from scratch.

With that said, it takes a whole lot more than highly-touted high school recruits to win. Just ask Mark Richt. You’ve got to know what to do with them once you get them in the door.

It will take some time before we find out if Young is the guy to do that. But when he agreed to take over his alma mater in the condition it was in when he arrived, he earned, at the very least, the time to prove himself.

Sure, everybody wants to see some wins during a rebuilding period, but when the job is this big, you take what you can get until the foundation is set.

 

Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.

 

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