You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

breaking news

2 Atlanta streets closed, Homeland Security called to mercury investigation

Lappano helping Georgia State keep energy high for season finale


Khadrice Rollins

krollins@ajc.com

As practice came to a close Monday at Georgia State, the players gathered in the end zone and looked out at the coaches. A couple of guys took turns going in front of their teammates and getting them pumped up by running back and forth with raised arms asking the Panthers to get loud. After a few trips up and down the line, running back Kyler Neal waited at the end of the group to give a shove of encouragement to the players promoting the screams.

The team was loose.

“We play so much more relaxed now,” defensive end Shawanye Lawrence said. “It just feels like fun out here, and when we play it’s really starting to show. We play like we have nothing to lose.”

As the season comes to a close for GSU (3-8, 2-5 Sun Belt), the team has looked for ways to stay motivated and engaged to prevent a lackluster finish to a year that fell short of expectations.

After taking over as interim coach, Tim Lappano said the Panthers and the coaching staff were going through a three-week job interview. Yet players said since Lappano has taken over, there is less of a work-like environment with practice.

“There’s been a lot of energy out here, so it’s good to have (Lappano)” center Gabe Mobley said. “He’s a high-tempo and energy guy, and it just kinda radiates throughout. … It just makes to where it’s not as much work-based. So you come out here and have fun with it, and it works out better for everybody.”

For a team that lost its coach and has lost seven games by two possessions or less, it would be understandable if fun was not at an abundance. This group however has rallied behind its misfortunes and now looks to just create as many positives as it can from its situation, players said.

Saturday in Idaho (7-4, 5-2) will be the last chance this team has to find a positive in this disappointing season. Unlike the game against Georgia Southern (4-7, 3-4) where the Panthers got to strip the Eagles of their chance to become bowl eligible and take an upperhand in the rivalry, there is not as much on the line against the Vandals.

Since they lost their opportunity to qualify for a bowl game, GSU players have said their love for the game and their teammates will be their motivation as they wrap up the season. With one game left, the Panthers said they are embracing those loves to enjoy one last week together, and hopefully turn that joy into one last win together.

“These guys are having fun and they’re enjoying it,” Lappano said. “And it’s not an easy situation for them. It’s a difficult situation for everybody out there, and they’re handling this thing like pros and that’s what we asked them to do.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

4 things to know before Georgia Tech-TCU in NIT final
4 things to know before Georgia Tech-TCU in NIT final

March 19, 2017, Atlanta: Georgia Tech players celebrate their 71-57 victory over Belmont in the locker room after their NIT tournament round two NCAA basketball game on Sunday, March 19, 2017, in Atlanta.
Ex-Brave Mallex Smith might start Rays’ opener
Ex-Brave Mallex Smith might start Rays’ opener

Former Braves prospect Mallex Smith is a candidate to start in left field for the Tampa Bay Rays when they open the season Sunday against the Yankees.  Smith is hitting only. 167 with his new team but could get an opportunity because starting outfielder Colby Rasmus has a groin injury and likely will begin the season on the disabled list. ...
In NIT final, fathers, sons and a ‘fairy-tale story’
In NIT final, fathers, sons and a ‘fairy-tale story’

Kellen McCormick’s basketball career will end Thursday night at Madison Square Garden when Georgia Tech plays TCU for the NIT championship. It could scarcely conclude in a better place. “It’s just kind of cool knowing that I’m going to end my career in the Garden, and my dad ended his in the Garden, too,” said McCormick...
The move to repeal HB2 has begun; college basketball played a part
The move to repeal HB2 has begun; college basketball played a part

Luke Maye exults. Yours truly observes. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill) On the Sunday that NCAA Round 2 games were to be played in Greenville, S.
First taste of Braves game day traffic is almost here. Are you ready?
First taste of Braves game day traffic is almost here. Are you ready?

It’s game time. The Braves are set to have their first outing, albeit an exhibition game, at SunTrust Park on Friday against the Yankees. With it comes fresh grass, a Hank Aaron statue unveiling and appropriately themed food. The game will also be a debut of the team’s new starting time of 7:35 p.m. And then there&rsquo...
More Stories