MEN'S BASKETBALL PREVIEW
The East Georgia State College men’s basketball team had a very successful 2011-2012 season, making it to the conference playoffs where they were unfortunately eliminated in the first round. That loss didn’t overshadow what the team had accomplished during the season.
Expectations are just as high heading into this year with the return of Jordan Johnson, Corinthians Brown, Brian Byrd, and Larry Bullock along with the freshman that Coach Neil Bailey was able to bring in. Johnson was one of the best point guards and freshmen in the conference, averaging 12.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. His return brings a ton of experience and leadership to a team that lost so many of its best players.
Brown injured his knee in the third game of the season, ending his freshman year. During his two games, Brown showed that he can score with anybody though, as he averaged 23 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and three steals in those first two games.
Bullock was a big player off the bench for the Bobcats, usually taking over whenever Johnson needed a break, but also filling in for the other guards in Coach Bailey’s 3-2 system. He averaged 4.4 points, 0.5 rebounds, 0.9 assists, and 0.7 steals per game.
Byrd played more as the season went on, coming off the bench and lighting a fire with his abilities on offense and hustle on defense. He averaged 2.2 points, 0.8 rebounds, 0.3 assists, and 0.2 steals per game.
Coach Bailey was able to add a lot of depth and size with the new players. Tommy Williams, Da’Vanon Felder, Jaquavious Tennyson, Jon Blair, Brian Peason, and Watson all stand at 6’5” or taller, and that much consistent size will allow Coach Bailey to never really be at a disadvantage down low. Guys like Gary Bailey, Tre’ Hagood, Alex Reid, and Deion Craig will provide the depth and playmaking ability from the guard positions.
Of the 10 new players, if six or seven can step up and play consistently strong basketball, this basketball will be more than fine. If a few of them can really step up and become forces, this is a team that will very much be in the conference title hunt at the end of the year. This looks like a solid selection for at least a conference playoff berth once again.
WOMEN'S BASKETBALL PREVIEW
The East Georgia College women’s basketball team was able to make a huge late season push in the 2011-2012 season to make the conference playoffs. New coach Brad Childers, the son of last year’s coach, Bud, will be looking to carry over that momentum into this season and get off to a better start
If he is able to do that, it will be because he can rush the freshmen through the process of getting used to the college level, as the team only has two returning players: Sameria Butts and Taylor Johnson. Butts was the point guard for most of the season, scoring 5.4 points, grabbed 2.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. Johnson averaged 1.2 points, 1.8 rebounds, 0.4 assists, and 0.1 steals per game.
Those two know what it takes to make it to the conference playoffs and will be counted on to provide leadership and experience for a talented group of freshmen. Raven Ashley, Crenshae Burden, and Keamoney Locke will provide a lot of size for the Lady Bobcats to go along with the lengthy Johnson.
Lakeisha Durden, Chastity Mullins, Tieney Haythe, Treneice Boles, LaJanae Davis, and Paris Baker will be counted on to provide depth and consistently strong play at the guard positions because of the lack of returning players.
Last year, struggling team was able to come together and play strong down the stretch, defying the odds that were set against them. This team will need to learn from that and try to maintain the late season momentum. A strong start would propel this team into conference title contention from the start.
BOBCAT ATHLETICS OVERVIEW
The 2012-2013 athletic year will be the fourth for the East Georgia State College Bobcats, and it’s a year in which all four teams are expected to make postseason runs after they all made the conference playoffs in 2011-2012.
The Bobcat men’s basketball team went 19-11 last year, making it a big improvement over the year before. The team lost some key players, but brings back young talent and some new comers that will be expected to provide a ton of minutes. Jordan Johnson, who as a freshman last year averaged 12.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.7 steals per game, returns to run the point for Neil Bailey’s squad. Coach Bailey will also get back Corinthians Brown, who was hurt in the third game for the Bobcats last year. He averaged 23 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and three steals in those two games. Several other key returnees are Larry Bullock and Brian Byrd. This is a team expected to be one of the top contenders in the conference.
The women’s basketball team has a new coach in Brad Childers, the son of Bud, who coached the team to the conference playoffs last year with a huge late-season push. He will get a team that is without star player Valese McCallister, but is still talented enough to make a run at the postseason. They only return two players from last year’s team, Sameria Butts and Taylor Johnson. Butts was the point guard for most of the season, scoring 5.4 points, grabbed 2.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. Johnson averaged 1.2 points, 1.8 rebounds, 0.4 assists, and 0.1 steals per game. This is a team that is basically all new comers, so the inexperience factor is one thing that the team will have to get over very quickly. If they can do that, they should be contenders in the conference.
The Bobcat baseball team also had to make a very late season push to make it to the conference playoffs, but that’s exactly what they did behind great pitching and timely hitting. The team lost some of its best bats, but does return some of the top pitchers, including Austin Denney. Denney posted a record of 4-4 with an ERA of 2.91 and 43 strikeouts in 65 innings pitched. Denney was also a key offensive cog for the team, hitting .252 with an OPS of .685, 10 RBI, and 14 runs scored. The speedy John Wesley is also back to roam center field. He played exceptional defense to go along with a .212 average, .514 OPS, 15 RBI, and 21 runs scored. Chris Hobbs, a guy that played all over the infield last year, returns with an average of .286, an OPS of .691, 19 RBI, and 27 runs scored. Other key returnees are Seth Gower, Brett Madden, Ashley Claxton, and Casey Davis. If the team can find another pitcher or two and a few bats with pop, this is a team that can make a postseason run.
The softball team may have been the most impressive for the Bobcat program last year, shattering every single school record en route to a conference playoff trip. It’s also the team that returns the most key players, such as its pitcher and many of the top hitters. Brittany Middleton, the team’s Pitcher of the Year last year, returns after posting a record of 10-10 with an ERA of 2.72 and 91 strikeouts in 131.1 innings. Brinsley Screws (.389 average, five homers, 33 RBI, and 33 runs scored), Nikki Sims (.301 average, six homers, 26 RBI, and 25 runs scored), and Mychavia Harris(.336 average, 13 RBI, and 22 runs scored) are among the important offensive players that have returned. Others include Laura Cardell, Ansley Rushing, and Mackenzie Walker. This is a team that should without question make a run to the postseason.
If everything falls, the Bobcats should once again get all four teams into postseason play, as the athletic program continues to show progress and continues to grow into one of the better one in the conference.