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My Take: something to be fired up about (in a good way)
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There’s a lot of rebuilding going on over at the campus of Georgia Southern University.

            No. I’m not talking about facilities (although there’s plenty of that going around, too), I’m talking about sports.

            The football team has another new coaching staff and is rebuilding in a retro kind of way, and the men’s basketball team is dealing with a new staff and a lot of turmoil from the last couple of years.

            There’s also a new president, whose impact on athletics has yet to be seen.

            Yes, consistency has been few and few and far between lately in the Eagle Nation, so this Friday, for a lot of GSU fans, will be a sight for sore eyes. The defending Southern Conference champion Georgia Southern Eagles are getting ready to take the baseball diamond.

            Not only are the Eagles picked to compete for a SoCon title again, but they’re also being noticed on a national level. Conference title and NCAA regional appearance aside, there’s something to be said for wins over East Carolina, Indiana, Winthrop and a four-game split with perennial power Georgia Tech that included a 23-3 win in 2009.

            The bad news is that the Eagles lost some big bats in Griffin Benedict, Ty Wright and Phillip Porter, to name a few, but the good news is that nobody may notice. Familiar faces like Kyle Blackburn and A.J. Wirnsberger return some pop to the lineup, and if the 2010 recruiting class is half as good as it’s been hyped up to be, power and timely hitting will once again trickle throughout any given lineup.

            I guess the biggest question mark out in the field will be at shortstop. It almost seems like Brian Pierce played the position since the 70s, and now that he’s gone, somebody will need to step in and fill the role.

            If anything about this team is certain, it’s that the boys in blue haven’t forgotten about what Gonzaga and Utah did to them out in California during the regionals last season. Georgia Tech, Clemson, South Carolina and everyone else on GSU’s 2010 schedule should probably take notice – nothing in Division I sports is more dangerous to the “big boys” than a mid-major team with a massive chip on its shoulder.


Peaking at the right time

            No phrase, cliché, or saying is more over used in the college basketball world during the month of February than, “Peaking at the right time.”

            To illustrate that point, I will use it now.

            Georgia Southern Lady Eagles’ coach Rusty Cram was unhappy after back-to-back losses to Chattanooga and Samford at Hanner Fieldhouse last week.

            Scratch that, he was downright irate.

            He put the Lady Eagles through what he called “mini boot camp” throughout the week, and he challenged them. He challenged them to give more effort, he challenged them to answer the call, and most importantly, he challenged them to “want to be here.”

            What resulted was a shocking upset of Charleston on Saturday.

            Before that game, GSU’s best win of the season was arguably the 73-68 win over Appalachian State on the road all the way back in December.

            Since then, the Eagles (14-11, 9-7 Southern Conference) went 0-5 against the league’s “big three” – Charleston, UTC and Samford.

            Enough was enough.

            They went to Charleston and knocked off the Lady Cougars 52-41, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

            That’s not to say that the momentum will carry the Eagles to a SoCon title and a bid to March Madness. They still have a long way to go to get there.

            All it means is that GSU got a win against a very good Cougars team when they absolutely had to. A big win on the road means one of two things – either it was an anomaly and a moment of success, or it was what was needed to ensure that they started to peak at exactly the right time.

            Whatever happens from here until Charlotte and the SoCon tournament during the last four games of the regular season is entirely up to them.


            Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.