Developing chemistry between returning players and newcomers is at the top of the to-do list for Georgia Southern’s men’s basketball team the next few weeks. The group officially went back to work Friday night, commencing the 2007-06 season with the first practice of the year.
“We want to be on the same page offensively and defensively and really work on becoming a team,” senior forward Louis Graham said. “Last year our chemistry lacked somewhat, but I’ve already seen a lot of unselfishness this year which is good.”
Looking to build on last season’s 15-16 record, the Eagles return nine letter winners and two starters. Georgia Southern is hoping several newcomers will be able to contribute immediately, specifically junior guard Julian Allen (6-foot-4, 200-pounds), junior forward Trumaine Pearson (6-8, 225) and freshman guard Willie Powers (6-2, 180). Allen transferred from a community college in Kansas where he was a junior college All-American and the Kansas JUCO player of the year last season.
“He comes in with high credentials, and he certainly needs to perform well,” said Eagle coach Jeff Price, who’s entering his ninth-year as the helm. “If we can blend our newcomers with our experience, we’ve got a chance to be pretty good. That’s going to be really important.”
The Eagles have just four weeks to prepare for their season opener Nov. 12 at Florida State.
“That’s obviously very concerning to play such a good team so early,” Price said. “We can’t waste any practices, that’s for sure.”
GSU lost several key contributors from last season, including leading scorer Donte Gennie, Jimmy Tobias and Diogo Salazar.
More experience for Lady Eagles
Georgia Southern’s women know they have the talent to be successful. Now they’ve just got to get the right mindset.
“Last year was so much of, ‘Could we come out and win?’ instead of coming out and knowing we were going to win the game,” senior Shawnda Atwood said. “We just have to get it in our head that we are a great team and we can beat anybody in our conference.”
Like the GSU men, the Lady Eagles held their first practice of the season Friday night. They’re focused on getting into game shape, nailing down their timing and putting in some new offensive schemes, 12th-year coach Rusty Cram said.
After playing without any seniors during last year’s 13-18 season, the Eagles now have five seniors as well as numerous underclassmen who’ve been tested.
“They are experienced players now, and they’ve played in some pretty high-level games and a large quantity of minutes,” Cram said. “So if we stay healthy, I feel like we ought to have a pretty good year.”
The Eagles open their season Nov. 9 at Jacksonville.
“I’m really excited about the season starting, this year, the outcome and the incoming freshmen,” Atwood said. “They worked us pretty good (this offseason), but it’s always worth it. I think we are ready.”