On April 3 Brian Burg was introduced as the next head men’s basketball coach, replacing Mark Byington who accepted a position at James Madison. Since then Burg has been trying to put the pieces together for a team that will be almost unrecognizable from last season.
The Eagles lost six seniors from the 2019-2020 season. After Byington’s announcement returning starters Calvin Wishart and Quan Jackson both entered the transfer portal and left for U.C. Santa Barbara, and UAB respectively.
Burg quickly put together quite a team on paper, comprised of a solid incoming freshman class, and quite a few transfers. Kaden Archie was a top 150 player out of high school, Eric Boone was rated as one of the top Junior College guards in the country, and Andrew Savrasov who is a Texas Tech transfer.
“Since we got everyone here on June 22nd guys have worked and bought into the process,” said Burg. “Collectively this group is working. This group is had a relentless work ethic. I'm excited about the future of this program. I'm excited about this group.”
With so many newcomers the Eagle coaching staff looked for ways to try and build some team chemistry and get them to bond.
“It’s kind of nice that there are so many new players so we can experience what Coach Burg is trying to do together,” said returning sophomore guard David Vitti. “We're kind of trying to come together, but I think we formed a lot of chemistry. We went on a big team retreat. We are all adjusting together.”
McCadden is not only the leading returning scorer, but as a junior he has the most experience as far as knowing the Statesboro area, which made him pretty popular with all the new players.
“I’d say when everyone first got here they came to me to find out where to eat and where things were,” said McCadden. “Now that we have been able to practice together for a while and everyone is more familiar with everything it’s been more about getting to know each other. I think we have a really good team and we are excited about getting the season started.”
This isn’t the first time Burg has been around a team that has basically started from scratch. While at Arkansas Little Rock Burg helped then coach Chris Beard with a similar situation, that culminated with an NCAA appearance and upset of No 5 seeded Purdue.
“It is very similar to Arkansas Little Rock,” said Burg. “We signed 10 players at Little Rock; we signed nine here. We lost our entire recruiting class. We also had a group that just wants to work. Those are the main similarities, the guys come in, buy into the process and you're seeing great strides.”
The big difference in what Burg helped accomplish at Arkansas Little Rock and this year at Georgia Southern is while with the Trojans Burg didn't have a pandemic to deal with as well.
“We're asking everyone to try and do this during the middle of a pandemic,” said Burg. “We're a no excuse culture though. We're going to do the best we possibly can to make sure this team gels, as soon as possible.”
While trying to build chemistry, and getting to know the skill sets of his players, Burg and his staff are also trying to implement a pretty intricate game plan that they know they have to be patient with and grow slowly.
“We are doing it this way not as much because of the guys, it's more because of the pandemic,” said Burg. “You don't know if there's going to be curveballs. A program could be shut down for 14 days, you're seeing that across the country. We want to be as simplistic as we possibly can, but at the same time have a unique style of motion offense.”
Burg says he is excited to see his team finally get a chance to play a game against another opponent, and he will get that opportunity Wednesday at 1:00 as the Eagles take on Florida National at Hanner Fieldhouse. Anita Howard’s women’s team will also be in action Wednesday as they travel to Jacksonville State to open the 2020-21 season.