MILLEDGEVILLE -- Mark Gainous knows the Georgia College basketball program well after serving as an assistant for the Bobcats for the past 11 seasons.
Gainous, however, has a new view of the program as he enters his first season as its head coach. The Bobcats open their season Friday in Greenwood, South Carolina, against Queens (North Carolina).
“Some things are still the same, but there’s a lot that’s certainly different,” Gainous said. “I’ve had some things I’ve been in charge of before because (former head coach Terry) Sellers wanted me involved, but now I’m in charge of everything, practice times and practice lengths, individual meetings with players to discuss their roles ... everything. The buck stops with me now, and that’s a big adjustment.”
Still, Gainous likes what he sees from his first team, especially its depth.
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Junior guards Terrell Harris and Ryan Blumenthal and senior forward Larrentis Thomas lead the team but should have plenty of help from returners Alex Reid and Kelvin Nwanze, along with junior transfers Dwight Anderson, Darrius Miles and Juwan Hubbard.
“Last year, we were seven or eight deep, but this year, I think we can go nine, 10 or 11 deep,” Gainous said. “My goal is to have a 10- or 11-man rotation, and I think we can do that. Plus, our starting five is better. We just have more good players this year.”
On the women’s side, head coach Maurice Smith is heading into his fifth season, and his team also has plenty of returning depth.
Seniors Shanteona Keys and Enisha Donley both averaged in double figures in scoring last season, while LaRice Walker is back also. Belinda Schaafsma, Kayla Upchurch, Lindsey Reed and McKenna Rushton also return, while junior transfer Kedesha Gibbs and freshmen Alyah McGriff and Alexia Manning will be counted on, as well.
The Bobcats face Florida Southern on Friday in Tampa.
“We think our strength is we have some key returners, and how they play, could determine how we play,” Smith said. “We realize there’s a lot of work to do, but we feel good about where the team is entering the season.”