Things haven’t quite gotten off to the start anybody wanted for Charlton Young and the Georgia Southern basketball Eagles.
An air of cautious optimism filled the GSU fan base when Young was ushered in as the program’s new leader early in 2009, and the boys have since put together a 3-12 record and are currently riding the wave of a very unimpressive eight-game losing streak.
It’s not as if there were many expectations heading into the 2009-10 season. In fact, the team hasn’t won a road game since all the way back on January 15, 2009. If they can’t beat Wofford on Jan. 14, it will mark a full calendar year since they won one in someone else’s house.
But, in the grand scheme of things, what does it all mean for the program?
For starters, it’s important to note that Young didn’t exactly inherit the Dream Team when he got here. Willie Powers, the team’s offensive leader and Johntavious Rucker, the leader on defense, sat out most of the prior season with injury, and three other players sat out the second half of the season last year due to suspension.
The 2008-09 team only put together eight wins and went under NCAA investigation – the results of which still have not surfaced.
Not exactly the ideal scenario.
Then, you’ve got to figure that the early part of the season – the “first” season as Young calls it – doesn’t really matter all that much. Young also talks a lot about being ready for “three games in March” – the Southern Conference Tournament – and I tend to agree with him. The 2008-09 Stephen Curry-led Davidson team proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that the SoCon isn’t going to get any at-large bids to the March Madness tournament any time soon, so the only way in is to put together a little streak at the end of the season and win the automatic bid.
Mix all that together with the fact that the Eagles played three SEC teams, an ACC team and a 13-2 Coastal Carolina team (twice), and you begin to see why a pretty picture hasn’t been painted yet.
Still, with all those things factored in, 3-12 is 3-12, and that is pretty bad no matter who you are or how you slice it.
The fact that Georgia Southern hasn’t put the entire team on the floor up until this point with injuries sprinkled around isn’t an excuse now. I don’t think anybody expected Southern Conference titles this first year under Young, but with everything taken into consideration, 2010 can be looked at as a fresh start for the Eagles.
Let’s see if they show improvement, because in the first year of a rebuilding process, that’s the most important thing,
An unimpressive precedent
The Atlanta Falcons ended the season quietly and without a whole lot of fanfare Sunday by going on the road and handing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers their 13th loss of the year.
In a sense, the game was meaningless. There were no playoff implications for either team, and despite the three-game losing streak that ended the Saints’ season, New Orleans had already shown it was the only relevant team in the NFC South.
But in the grand scheme of things, the win meant a ton to a program that has exemplified mediocrity for the last 44 years. It put the Falcons at 9-7 on the season, and marked the first time, ever, Atlanta finished with back-to-back winning seasons.
What that means – aside from a gigantic monkey off the backs of the Falcons – is that the birds from the ATL are becoming winners.
A nine-win season used to be a stirring success up there. Even when the Michael Vick-led Falcons beat Green Bay at Lambeau in the snow in the playoffs, it was on the wake of a nine-win regular season.
Sure, the Falcons were glad to get the win last Saturday, but the 9-7 season as a whole was looked at as a disappointment. That’s a winner’s mindset and that, in my opinion, is the first step to becoming a legit contender year-in and year-out.
Now, if they can keep the entire offense from getting injured again next year, maybe, just maybe, they can keep this thing going.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.