This year’s “finish anywhere from, oh, first through 12th” team is Georgia State. The trendy line is to say you don’t know where Georgia State is going to finish but you know they will be better. Five high-major transfers who are eligible can do that.

If I’m Rod Barnes I’m offended by that position, because Georgia State was better last year. There were struggles in November, but by the time the conference season rolled around Lennie Mendez and crew were scaring people.

In fact, Georgia State lost 11 games by six points or less. Six of those losses came down to the final possession. VCU, who went 15-3 in the league, survived a missed Panthers three-pointer to beat GSU 49-47 in Richmond and barely held on for a 65-60 in overtime in Atlanta. The Panthers also beat George Mason, the conference tournament champion, 66-64 in their only meeting.

Still, Barnes knows nobody will fear them. And he also has leadership and chemistry questions to answer.

Three Key Statements

  1. Every preseason publication will state that State is returning four starters, only one of which may start the season a starter.
  2. The chemistry issue is valid, but everyone but the freshmen practiced together all of last season.
  3. Teams knew Lennie Mendez was getting the ball and taking the shot and they still couldn’t stop him.

Season Shaper(s)

  1. Joe Dukes: The Wake transfer will run the point and therefore the show. Old players or new, the show starts with him.
  2. Size, meet skill. The Panthers are big and strong and ridiculously athletic. But only Mendez is a legit three point threat. They can do a lot of things, but is putting the ball in the basket one of them?
  3. The big men need to find their roles. Who is the scorer? Who is the workhorse? Who is the stopper? Who accepts fewer but effective and efficient minutes?

The Underdog

Rashad Chase: I’ll call Chase the Overlord of the Transition. Why? He was an All CAA Freshman selection and is second among active CAA players in total rebounds. He’s seen it all and played through the bad times. He will no doubt lose floor time, but he can be an extra coach and impact the game and the team in many ways.

Hey Coach, What Happens If…

  • You start 0-4? At Trask, home to ODU, at Mason, and home to Northeastern isn’t exactly a cake walk.
  • You start 4-0? That’d be like serving the search warrant on Law & Order. Lots of folks begin to say “uh-oh.”
  • Your fast pace begets a bevy of turnovers and Dukes loses his confidence?

If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak:

Without a doubt this team is going to be fun to watch. My only wish is a return to the black uniforms with the block letters, ala the 2006 CAA tournament.

Place range, while 1-12 is honest, is third through seventh.


~ by mglitos on October 15, 2008.

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