Georgia State will open the 2012-13 season with a two-game road trip to Florida, starting with the Friday night, Nov. 9 season opener at UCF in Orlando. GSU will then play at the Florida Gators on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.
Coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener's third year is seeing upgrades in the talent on the roster with an influx of recruits, D-1 transfers and JUCO transfers, with just two seniors on the roster.
The Panthers return six players who played in all 30 games last year with a combined 87 starts, so that core is in place. A pair of junior college stars, a potential pair of D-1 transfers and a trio of freshmen will find their roles and join those returnees to form a roster that will utilize everyone's talents and not rely on just a couple players. GSU played a pair of closed exhibition games against Division I SEC foes Georgia and Auburn to prep for the season.
Last year, the Panthers 2011-12 assets were mainly on defense and that will continue to be a point of emphasis:
- GSU ranked No. 1 in the CAA in steals (307, 10.5, No. 45 NCAA)
- GSU ranked No. 1 in the CAA in blocked shots (152, 5.1, No. 26 NCAA)
- GSU ranked No. 5 in the CAA in FG pct. allowed (.385)
- GSU ranked No. 5 in the CAA in rebounds (41.2)
The 2011-12 team had constant change as 12 different players started, 11 players logged 180 or more minutes and the five on the floor during games changed over and over looking for a spark.
One 2012 goal was to increase the scoring potential of the returning players and recruit new players who were leading scorers on their teams. Two of the top 10 JUCO scorers and a trio of freshmen who each averaged betternt than 15 points a game will join the six returnees who had been focused on their scoring skills ever since last season ended.
GSU is finishing its final season in the Colonial Athletic Association and will move on to the Sun Belt Conference next year when football makes the move from FCS to FBS.
SEASON-OPENING FLORIDA ROAD TRIP
Georgia State begins the season with a four-day road trip to play its first two games.
The Panthers will leave Atlanta on Thursday and play the opener at the University of Central Florida in Orlando on Friday night. With a travel day on Saturday, GSU will finish the trip with an early Sunday game at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
GSU VERSUS UCF SERIES HISTORY
Georgia State and UCF have a long history with 41 previous games played since the first meeting in 1980-81.
GSU holds a commanding 30-11 all-time lead in the series, including a 15-5 advantage in the games played in Orlando.
The teams have not met since they were both Atlantic Sun Conference members in 2004-05. Georgia State left to join the Colonial Athletic Association in 2005-06, while UCF made its move to Conference USA.
GSU head coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener is also quite familiar with the UCF program, having competed for five seasons as C-USA rivals when she was at East Carolina. Baldwin-Tener posted a mark of 8-2 against UCF in those five seasons.
UCF's coach Joi Williams is in her sixth season at UCF and 10th as a head coach. The Knights return four starters among the seven returning letterwinners from their 12-17 team. UCF was 10-8 at home last season. UCF has no Georgia players on its roster.
With an enrollment of 60,000, UCF bills itself as the second largest college in America. It has a campus of 1,415 acres just east of downtown Orlando. The game will be played on campus in the UCF Arena (10,000).
GSU VERSUS FLORIDA SERIES HISTORY
Georgia State and Florida have played six times in their histories, with Georgia State owning a 4-2 series lead.
However, the teams have not played in 32 years since 1979-80. That 1979-80 GSU won at Florida, 86-75, to sweep a season series after beating the Gators in Atlanta, 77-64. The first time the teams ever met was in Georgia State's inaugural season of 1975-76 in the fourth game in school history. That was a GSU win, 71-61, in Gainesville.
UF Coach Amanda Butler has led the Gators to postseason bids in five of her six seasons, including advancing to the second round of the NCAA last year.
Florida returns four letterwinners, led by first-team All-SEC forward Jennifer George. George averaged 12.8 points and 8.8 rebounds last year.
The Gators' roster includes a pair from metro Atlanta: Kayla Lewis (Decatur, SW DeKalb) and Christin Moore (Douglasville, Douglas County).
The game will be played in the O'Connell Center (11.373) on the campus of Florida (enrollment 50,000).
HOME OPENER SET FOR WEDNESDAY, NOV. 14
Georgia State will play host in the home opener on Nov. 14 when the Jacksonville (Ala.) State Gamecocks make the short drive to Atlanta for the 7 p.m. game.
GSU and JSU have met 26 times before, with the Panthers holding a 21-5 all-time series lead with the Gamecocks following last year's win in Jacksonville, Ala.