Season Preview: Lady Eagles work ‘swarming and suffocating defense’, says Howard

Eagles’ roster among the youngest in the Sun Belt

DJ Cadden, Sports Editor

2020-21 Record: 11-13 (5-9 SBC)

Key Departures:

A’Tyanna Gaulden, 9.6 PPG

Tatum Barber, 7.4 PPG

Shondell Vickers, 7.1 PPG

Sarah Moore, 4.9 PPG

Lacy Robins, 1.9 PPG

Key Additions:

Kharringtin Collier, freshman

Hannah Fuller, freshman

Maya Banks, transfer from Wake Forest

Rachel Johnson, transfer from Wichita State

Thaniya Marks, transfer from Shelton State CC

Constance Thomas, transfer from Penn State


Despite the cancellation of six games due to COVID-19, the Lady Eagles matched their won 11 games and matched their win total from the 2019-20 season.

However, the 2021-22 edition of the Georgia Southern women’s basketball will be a much different production than what took the court last season. Five departures and six new additions highlight one of the youngest rosters in the Sun Belt Conference.

The Lady Eagles have already taken the court this fall for an exhibition, which gives a benchmark for what to expect on the court for the remainder of the season. In their exhibition game, GS took down Allen University, 111-56, in an all-around dominant performance.

Defensively, head coach Anita Howard defines her team’s identity with a word you have probably never heard: “Swarmification.”

“It’s a swarming and suffocating defense,” said Howard. “You will see it whether we’re in a zone, whether we’re in a full court man, whether we’re in three-quarters zone. We like to switch it up every second or third possession to keep offenses kind of off kilter a little bit.”

Although the Eagles pride themselves on the defensive side of the ball, the team struggled to stop their opponents last season. Among Sun Belt teams, GS ranked in the bottom half of nearly every defensive stat.

On the offensive side of things, the Eagles preach the same aggressive mindset. The hope is that the swarming defense will result in fast break opportunities for the offense.

The Eagles ranked No. 2 in the conference in points per game, No. 4 in free throw percentage, No. 4 in field goal percentage and No. 2 in offensive rebounds last season.

“We were third in the nation in our pace of play last year and we want to do the same,” said Howard. “We want to put pressure on the defensive transition of our opponents. So while they’re running with their backs turned, we want to dribble that ball or pass that ball down their throats to see if we can get an easy layup.”

There is no doubt that the Lady Eagles have the talent to compete with the best teams in the Sun Belt Conference, but the overall level of inexperience may come back to haunt the team. The team should continue to improve under Howard and set the program up for a bright future.

Prediction: 16-14 (9-9 SBC)