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Price looks toward future, not past
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    The Georgia Southern men’s basketball team will no doubt carry frustration into the offseason, but that shouldn’t negate what was another solid season for the Eagles, who posted 20 wins for the third time in five years.
    GSU also ended the regular season in second place in the Southern Conference’s South Division, marking the seventh time it’s finished either first or second during Price’s nine years in charge.
    But the disappointment once again came in the league tournament where the Eagles were tripped up in the quarterfinals and fell short of making their first appearance in the title game since GSU joined the SoCon 16 years ago.
    “Even as a coach I think it leaves a bad taste in your mouth,” coach Jeff Price said. “But you can’t not acknowledge the year we had, which was awfully good. We’ll try to find that ticket to get over the hump, but in the meantime we’re playing at the top of the league.”
    The Eagles will have to overcome their postseason woes without two crucial big men — all-conference forward Louis Graham, the team’s top scorer, and leading rebounder Matthew Fields — who have both exhausted their eligibility.
    “We lose so much on the front line — obviously I’m very concerned about that,” Price said. “We’ve got to address that with our recruiting. Hopefully (sophomore center) Krzysztof (Janiszewski) will come around and continue to get better, and obviously (junior forward) Trumaine Pearson has got to improve as well. (Junior forward) Kenny Ward’s an experienced player that we have back inside, bur we just don’t have a lot of experience on the front line.”
    Along with Graham and Fields, the Eagles also lose one of the best point guards in the league in senior Dwayne Foreman. That void could potentially be filled by Antonio Hanson, an incoming transfer from Independence Community College in Kansas. Returning starter Willie Powers — an all-freshman honoree as GSU’s second-leading scorer — and key contributor A.J. Johnson are both combo-guards who could be used at the position if needed.
    “We’ve got several different guys I think can play it,” Price said. “We’ll just wait and see how it fills out when everybody gets here. I think our guards have a chance to be really good. We are going to be very deep in the backcourt.”
    The Eagles will also welcome back starting guard Julian Allen, and they signed two more guards — Nate Blackburn, a high school senior from Graham, N.C., and Colby Wohlleb, who played at a prep school in Florida this season.
    Six-foot-five guard Anthony Marshall will also return for his senior year. Because of ongoing knee and hand injuries, he’d previously decided last season would be his final at GSU, but he changed his mind.
    “I thought towards the end of the year he was certainly one of our best players,” Price said. “We both decided if he wants to come back we’d love to have him. He’s going to do a lot of rehab, get better in the offseason and come back and play again.”
    When they return from this week’s spring break, Price plans to meet with his players individually to talk about what they need to do to improve before next season. After that, they’ll begin individual workouts and toil to get stronger.
    As for their SoCon tournament troubles, the Eagles will look to change their luck in Chattanooga where tourney has been moved for the next two seasons. League officials had previously stated their desire to hold the event at a neutral sight, such as the North Charleston (S.C.) Coliseum, but awarded it to Chattanooga after it outbid Charleston for the right to host. Coincidentally, the Mocs won it all in 2005, the last time the tourney was on their home floor.
    “There’s only one coach in our league that likes it,” Price said of the change in venues. “I don’t care for it at all and neither do (nine) other coaches in the conference. Obviously it’s an unbelievable advantage, but we’ve got to play with what we’re dealt.”

    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.