Greetings,

I don’t have much time, but I wanted to post some thoughts after Georgia State women’s basketball first week.

The Panthers went 2-1 with victories over Morehead State and Allen bookending a 10-point loss to Eastern Michigan. But the Eastern Michigan and Allen games are not really indicative. Eastern Michigan was fully rested and it was the second day of a back-to-back for Georgia State. As for Allen, the Yellow Jackets are an NAIA school, and the result showed, a 96-58 Panther victory. The Jackets’ tallest player was 5’10”. Georgia State’s forwards and centers took full advantage and had three times as many paint points, 66-22.

That leaves Morehead State, a 68-50 win. Here are the several promising trends:

Defense: Georgia State outrebounded Morehead 51-40, kept the Eagles off the line (only 4 foul attempts for the first 35 minutes), and Morehead only got 3 steals. Morehead also committed 26 turnovers.

Tiffany Holston looks like the real deal. She has double figures in rebounds in 2 of the 3 games and got her first double-double against Allen and contributed 16 points. Eastern Michigan goaded her into 2 quick fouls, and that limited her effectiveness.

Jada Lewis, the freshman from McEachern, cracked the starting lineup and poured in 15 against Allen and had 5 assists and three steals.

Simply put, when the Panthers force more turnovers and keep the opponent off the line, they win.

But here is the other side. Makeba Ponder is nursing her way back from injury. She was held out against Allen, and her outside shot has been slow to return. She hit only 23% for the first two games. Georgia State’s outside average was only 24% after three games.

Even though the Panthers won the turnover battle in their victories, they were averaging about 20 in the first two games before only losing it 12 times against Allen. Madison Newby is slashing very well, getting to the basket, and drawing fouls, but she hasn’t lost the TO bug. She has 11 versus 10 assists. To be fair, she didn’t run the point as much during Allen, letting Lewis get game experience.

Georgia State now runs a gauntlet of four games in six days. Sunday they host old CAA foe UNC-Wilmington, Tuesday it’s cross-town rival Kennesaw State, and then Thursday and Friday it’s games in Daytona Beach against Penn State and American. Those last two were supposed to be in Puerto Rico, but were relocated due to the Zika Virus. Wilmington is 1-1. Kennesaw State is 0-3 with losses to Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech. Penn State was 12-17 last year and plays at Tennessee tonight. The only element is conditioning. Georgia State has the height and depth to contend against UNCW and KSU, and coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener kept everyone’s minutes under 25 against Allen to prepare. But these three teams will have a lot of time to rest up. (American will also be playing the second day of a back-to-back). In my head, I’d be satisfied with a 2-2 mark in this stretch.

I also have a tough stretch. My football team, Reinhardt, has an NAIA game in the morning, and I somehow have to work in 40 hours at my day job to accommodate the Daytona trip. I’ll check in from the beach. Have a happy Thanksgiving.

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