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GSU men's basketball holds first practice of 2006-07 season
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    Basketball season officially commenced late Friday afternoon at Hanner Fieldhouse when the Georgia Southern men’s team held its first practice of the season.
    The Eagles are coming off a successful 20-win season which included the team’s first outright Southern Conference title and a trip to the National Invitation Tournament – Georgia Southern’s first postseason appearance in 14 years.
    “It’s going to be a very exciting year for us,” senior guard Donte Gennie said. “Our biggest challenges will be staying healthy and building team chemistry where everybody plays together.”
    Georgia Southern returns three starters and welcomes seven newcomers, including two transfers. The Eagles open their season on Sunday, Nov. 12 against UC Davis in the College Basketball Experience Classic in Durham, N.C. Georgia Southern will face either Duke or Columbia in the second round of the tournament.
    “I think everybody is excited,” said coach Jeff Price, who is beginning his eighth season with the Eagles. “The first practice will be interesting because we have a lot of newcomers. We are going to have to have some patience, and our returning guys with experience are going to have to lead those guys. I think how good our leadership is will be how good our practices are.”
    The Eagles lost three seniors, most notably their go-to player Elton Nesbitt, the Southern Conference player of the year who is now pursuing a professional basketball career in Europe.
    “I think last year’s team had great chemistry,” Price said. “You lose a player like Elton Nesbitt, but I don’t want to have the type of team where someone steps up and thinks they have to be like Elton Nesbitt. I think we have to do it by committee and guys have to play together. As we go on through the season, someone will emerge as a leader. But it doesn’t have to happen right now.”
    Georgia Southern’s biggest concern at the moment is depth, Price said. The Eagles won’t have as many experienced players on the bench as they did last year.
    “Our depth this year is going to be all new guys, pretty much,” Price said. “So I think the biggest key to our team this year is going to be some of these new guys are going to have to step up and be able to contribute right away. I think our returning experience is good, but some of our newcomers are going to have to play.”
    Georgia Southern’s home opener is Saturday, Nov. 25 against Winston-Salem State.

Women begin today
    The Georgia Southern women will hold their first practice at 9 a.m. today. The Lady Eagles return three starters from last season’s 11-18 (7-11 SoCon) team.
    They open their season at home against Stetson on Sunday, Nov. 12 and will host Georgia on Tuesday, Nov. 21.