Q&A with Head Men's Basketball Coach Jeff Price
A: “The biggest thing that comes to mind is you just write it off as one of those years. It’s the first season we’ve had that we’ve been under .500 in eight consecutive years. We lost seven games in the last 30 seconds and we had some major injuries. In basketball, when you have major injuries to key players, it certainly changes the way you do things. It was just one of those years and every now and then you have those. But I thought we were stagnant offensively which is disappointing to me because we’ve always been one of the best offensive teams in the county. I think we’ll get back to that this year and find ways to score more out of our defense. A lot of that had to do with our lack of depth last year and due to having to change our rotation with people getting hurt. But last season is over with. We haven’t had a year like that since I’ve been here and I don’t plan on having another one.”
Q: How much are you going to rely on Dwayne and Louis on both offense and defense?
A: “I think a lot. Not just on the court, but in leadership also. [They are] two guys who have been in the program for four years now. Obviously a lot is expected of them I think they’re all-conference caliber players, but they need to play like that in order for us to be successful. I don’t think they can have too many off nights for us to win games. They’ve got to bring their A’ game every night. Obviously with the loss of Donte (Gennie) we’ve got to pick up some of the scoring load and I think they’ll both do that. We’ve got to keep Louis on the floor longer and keep him out of foul trouble. He had the numbers he had playing 26 minutes a game. We’ve got to get him on the floor for 32 minutes and he’ll be that much more productive. I don’t think there’s any question that Dwayne will have to pick up his scoring, but I think he’s capable of doing that. We’ll just be a little younger at the other guard position.”
Q: You only lose four players - three starters - from last year’s team, but return nine letterwinners. What’s the bigger factor in your eyes, losing three starters or returning nine players?
A: “You hope that the biggest factor will be that we have five seniors. You’d like to think that it’s more positive that you have five seniors on your team and having some key guys back. But I don’t there’s any question that the biggest loss is the loss of Donte Gennie. You just have to hope you can overcome losing an all-conference guard. We have in the past. We always lose really good players and you always wonder how you’re going to recover, but someone manages to step up. You go back to Julius Jenkins and Terry Williams and everybody else; we’ve always found a way to get the next guy to step up. Hopefully one of the players we’re not expecting to step up, will.”
Q: What is the team’s biggest question mark coming into the season?
A: “The uncertainty of how good our signees will be. I think that’s going to be a big key to our season. I think we know what we have back in regards to our returnees. I’ve got a pretty good feel for all of them and what they’re capable of doing and who’s improved, but our team is really going hinge a lot on how well, particularly Willie Powers, Trumaine Pearson and Julian Allen, play. Those are three new players we’re certainly going to lean on. So I guess my biggest question mark is how good they’re going to be.”
Q: What do you like about this year’s team?
A: “I think our front line is as good as it’s been since I’ve been here. We have depth up front, we’re athletic with Louis, Matt and Trumaine, Jared Collins, who’s very athletic and we have Kenny Ward. Or we can be strong and powerful with Krzysztof and Ryan. We have a lot of different combinations and things we can do on the front line. It is going to be one of the biggest strengths of our team.”
Q: What’s your outlook on the Southern Conference?
A: “I don’t think it’s any secret that we’re all chasing Davidson. When you win 29 games and have your whole team back, they’re the team everyone is aiming for, and they’re going to be really good. It’s helped our conference so much having a team like that, that’s preseason top-20, top-25 that’s really helped our league. I’m glad of that, but I’m sure they know that nothing comes easy in this conference, particularly when you have a bulls-eye on you. Obviously Davidson’s the front-runner. Charleston had a lot of losses, Furman has a lot of losses, so it’s hard to tell when you have so many new guys how you’ll be. Wofford’s guards are very, very good and always give people problems, The Citadel has a lot of new players, so you just don’t know. On the North, I think Western Carolina and Greensboro are going to be very, very good. App and Chattanooga are a little bit unknown right now they have some key losses and Elon as well. Every year I’ve been here, the league has gotten better. Preseason, in a lot of publications, this is the highest our conference has been ranked. A lot of that is due to last year and Davidson and App and the success they had.”
Q: What do you think the team can improve on from last season?
A: “We’ve got to score more out of our defense and find a way to produce points. We’ve got to score more, and at the same time, find a way to score out of our defense. I thought we got away from that last year. We’ve got to get back to being aggressive again and put big numbers on the board.”
Q: The team suffered through a slump mid-way through the season, but came back and won 5-of-6 before losing in the tournament. Can that success carry over into this season?
A: “That’s hard to tell because we lost three guys who were starters. So I don’t know if that’s going to have a lot to do with it. The reason we surged late last year was because we got our team back. We got Matt Fields back and Dwayne was healthy. We played the last five games of the year how I thought we were capable of playing all year, but we just weren’t at full strength. You hope mentally that us finishing strong will help us. It’s not like we finished terribly you don’t ever like to lose in the tournament and of course only one team wins it. Hopefully that will be in the back of our minds and our guys will see that last year was somewhat of a fluke for us and that we’re very able to play well.”
Q: What do you think about this year’s incoming class?
A: “I’ve learned over the years that everybody looks good on paper. So I try not to get too excited about signees and recruiting classes until we get them on the floor. I’ll be able to tell a lot more when we get on the floor to see who’s going to be good at this level and who’s going to struggle. Obviously I’m happy with the guys that we signed or we wouldn’t have signed them. But sometimes when you sign players, some of them turn out a lot better than what you dreamed and some of them don’t quite come along as fast as you want them to. But I’m excited about our new signees and again, I think a lot of our success is going to have to do with those guys.”
Q: What’s the biggest challenge facing this team?
A: “I’m a little concerned with our depth at guard. We’ve always been really deep at the guard position and I don’t think we’re quite as deep this year. We’re young at guard Antoine Johnson is going to be a good player but he’s just a sophomore, Willie Powers is going to have to play and he’s just a freshman. How well they come along with Dwayne is going to be a big key to how we play. So our biggest challenge is going to be bringing along these young guards and have them ready to play. Your guards are really, really important at this level and I think you’re only as good as your guards play.”
Q: What are you thoughts on the difficulties in getting quality teams to come to Statesboro?
A: “Scheduling is something that is extremely hard to understand. It’s probably the hardest and most controversial issue in college basketball right now. I don’t think anybody tries harder than us to get a quality home schedule. We’re not going to get high-majors to play in Hanner Fieldhouse. It’s never happened and it won’t they pay way too much money to have us play at their place. They have nothing to gain by playing here. Most of the time with mid-major home games, it’s hard to get a home-and-home because they want you to go to them first. At times we’ve sacrificed and done that but then we have a year where we don’t have any home games [which] I think it hurts our fanbase and our team. The reason we’re playing in BracketBusters is so we’ll get quality home games. Next year’s home schedule, I can assure you, will be really good because whoever we play in BracketBusters this year will return, plus we’ll be starting again in BracketBusters and we’ll get a home game. So next year we’re going to have two or three quality home games. That’s an on-going battle that’s sometimes hard to have people understand, but I can assure you that no one works harder than we do and if anybody can get a Division I opponent to come to Hanner Fieldhouse, they can be my assistant coach for a day and let them get on the phone and get them here.
Another thing, up until last year, we had won 37 out of our last 39 home games and it’s not like people are beating on our door to come here. We have a lot of respect sometimes you get more respect outside your area than you do in [your area], and if you go around in basketball circles around the country and ask them what it’s like to play in Hanner Fieldhouse or about Georgia Southern’s program, people aren’t real excited about coming here.”
- Category: Men's Basketball
- Published on Friday, 26 October 2007 00:17