By MATT YOGUS
Georgia Southern entered the season with C.J. Reed, Cameron Baskerville, Tre Bussey and Brian Holmes missing practice with injuries.
In Friday’s season opener at Valparaiso, it showed.
The Eagles fell hard in an 85-54 loss – not the start they were looking for.
"Success is when preparation meets opportunity," said GSU coach Charlton Young. "To be honest, we didn’t get enough preparation. It was a tough knock on the chin. We feel like we should never lose that way, but I’m proud of my guys for persevering."
The Eagles (0-1) will need a quick turnaround today when they face Charlotte (1-0) on the road in what looks to be a physical game.
"They brought a Big 10 feel, where it’s a two yards and a cloud of dust style of basketball," Young said about Charlotte. "I’m hoping we can hold up physically."
Depth is an issue for a team that lost a lot around the perimeter from t2011-12. The Eagles lost four-year starters Ben Drayton and Willie Powers to graduation and Jelani Hewitt to academic suspension.
Young still isn’t sure how deep the Eagles go.
"We’re still trying to figure that out," he said. "I’d like to play nine guys. Whether we have nine that can do it, I’m not sure yet. That’s still to be determined."
The Eagles were led in scoring in the opener by freshman guard Cleon Roberts, who scored 18 points in his debut. Junior forward/guard Eric Ferguson scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Young has a pretty good idea of where GSU will find success. The Eagles turned it over 21 times in the opener, and Ferguson and Bussey were the only Eagles to clock more than 30 minutes.
Healthy shooters and athleticism are needed to overcome GSU’s undersized post.
"You’re only as good as what you prepare for, and it’s the things you can’t prepare for that you’ve got to overcome. We’re going to be a pretty good basketball team, no doubt about it. We’re long and we’re quick. We’re not big and bulky, we’re not tall," Young said.
The Charlotte game will air nationwide on the NBC Sports Network.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.