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My Take with Matt Yogus - Fitting end to a long season
Matt Yogus Web
Matt Yogus

Matt Yogus-030811

Listen to Matt Yogus read his take on Georgia Southern men's basketball.

      I thought that pretty much summed things up.
       Georgia Southern’s basketball season ended Friday in the first round of the Southern Conference Tournament with a 65-57 loss to Appalachian State in a game that really turned out to be a microcosm of the season as a whole.
       The Eagles dictated pace, limited turnovers, took the Mountaineers out of their game plan and, after a mini-run by ASU that was all it needed to get the job done, still lost.
       The bottom line was that GSU played the game it wanted to, and App State still would have had to have played a pretty awful game if the Eagles were going to pull off the upset.
       Because the Mountaineers didn’t play all that good to begin with.
       It tells the story, because second-year coach Charlton Young played six guys in heavy rotation and got cleanup minutes out of two others.
       Sure, they turned over the basketball only 11 times — almost eight below the season average — but the bottom line was that when the Eagles needed scoring, they didn’t find it. They missed eight free throws and shot 1 of 9 from 3-point range.
       They didn’t score when they had to, and App did.
       What did anybody expect, anyway?
       The only conference win for the Eagles came against The okay-at-best Citadel in a game where they played well above their heads with only seven turnovers.
       There really weren’t that many other wins on the schedule. They probably should have at least beat Samford and split with UNC Greensboro, but other than that, things went about as well as they could under the circumstances.              Everybody else was just flat-out better. The 5-27 record was only slightly worse than it probably could have been.
       Now, does that mean that GSU doesn’t have the talent to compete with the rest of the league?
       In the words of Springfield’s Reverend Lovejoy, “Ohhhh, short answer, yes with an ‘if.’ Long answer, no with a ‘but.’”
       Let’s go with the short answer.
       Sure, there’s talent out there. But everybody has talent.
       The difference is in the well documented fact that Young inherited a dumpster fire when he arrived in Statesboro in early 2009, and he got himself a brand-spanking-new recruiting class that he had to throw into it.
       He took the air out of the basketball mid-way through the season and slowed the game down, milking the shot clock time and time again to limit mental mistakes and give the Eagles the best chance to win.
       Is that the game he wanted to play? No.
       Was that the game those kids were brought into the program to play? Nope.
       But it gave the Eagles the best chance to win. It’s hard to score with guys that are used to being All-Stars at the prep level and haven’t seen Division I talent, and it’s even harder when you dribble the ball off your foot in transition when you’re trying to fast break.
       Those kids were good at picking someone’s pocket. They had good ball handlers. They even had some kids who could score in a lot of different ways. Problem was, nobody could do any of that all at once after the game started. 
       They had to stick with what was working, and frankly, not that much was working.
       The Eagles could have gone out there and tried to run. They might have even picked up an extra win or three along the way. But 8-24 isn’t much better than 5-27, they would have gotten smoked by the other teams that like to run and they wouldn’t have sniffed a chance come tourney time.
       At least they had a chance by slowing things down.
       Hopefully, the nastiness is behind Young and the Eagles. Hopefully, with an expected 15-man roster next season, and with all the “young pups” that played big minutes this past season, things are going to start evening out.
       Depth and experience won’t be an issue next time around. With the return of All-SoCon point guard Willie Powers and the loss around the league of stars like Andrew Goudelock, Noah Dahlman, Amu Saaka, Donavan Monroe, Cameron Wells, Chris Long, Donald Sims and Mike Williams, the Eagles will go from being the youngest and least experienced team in the league to one of the deepest.
       And if the roster looks like it’s supposed to next year, we won’t be hearing about CY’s “young pups” any more.

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

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