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GSU hoops to tip off season at FSU
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Florida State's Jason Rich dunks on a break away steal against Nicholls State in the first half Friday in Tallahassee, Fla. - photo by Associated Press
    Ready or not, basketball season is here for the Georgia Southern men, who open their season tonight at Florida State. On the road against an Atlantic Coast Conference team isn’t an easy start for any mid-major team, but the Eagles are eager to see how they’ll fare against the Seminoles (1-0). Tip-off is 9 p.m.
    “We’ve been working pretty hard, and it’s come up on us pretty fast,” ninth-year Georgia Southern coach Jeff Price said. “We haven’t had a whole lot of time to prepare. Four weeks of practice, then all of a sudden we play Florida State. So we are certainly going to get tested early.”
    FSU is coming off a dominating 81-58 win over Nicholls State in its season opener and returns four starters from last year’s 22-13 team, which advanced to the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament.
    The Eagles welcome back two starters from last season’s 15-16 squad and are working to blend returning players with several newcomers, who will be asked to contribute immediately.
    “We are excited but not to the point where we are not focused on what we’ve got to do,” senior forward Louis Graham said. “We are trying to come out and give Florida State a run for their money. Hopefully, and God-willing, we’ll come out with a win.”
    FSU is experienced and equipped with host of talented guards led by seniors Isaiah Swann and Jason Rich and junior Toney Douglas.
    “They are no different than what we are,” senior guard Dwayne Foreman said. “The only difference is a bigger conference and a bigger name. Basically we’ve just got to go out there and play our game.”
    The Eagles will have a better idea of where they stand as a team after next weekend when they’ll face three mid-majors in the Glenn Wilkes Classic in Daytona Beach, Fla. Last season GSU battled through injuries, eventually winning five of six late in the year once everyone got healthy. After losing seven games in the final 30 seconds a year ago, Price is hoping his guys learn the value of every possession.
    “What we’re trying to stress is we lost so many close games last year, so let’s try not to even get in those situations this year,” Price said.
    Georgia Southern is in the process of evolving and isn’t sure what its strength will be this season.
    “We’ve seen flashes of a fast-break team, scoring, rebounding,” said Graham, “but the scary part about that type of team is you never know what it’s going to mold into come the meaty part of the season.”
    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.