When Georgia State President Dr. Mark Becker was interviewing Ron Hunter for his school’s basketball coaching job, he asked if Hunter’s previous teams could shoot free throws.
Hunter assured him that his teams were usually good from the line. Becker thought that was good, because the Panthers were one of the worst free-throw shooting teams in Division I last year. Hunter was hired and Becker got to follow up on his coach’s statement by competing in a free-throw contest with the basketball team at 8 a.m. Tuesday.
“It was fun to get out there with the guys,” Becker said.
Well, it was fun for most of them.
As the players were warming up Tuesday — Becker just took one warm-up — one of the players asked Hunter what would happen if their president made all 10. Hunter told them they better get their running shoes ready. Those who didn’t beat him would have to run 5 miles on Thursday.
Hunter declined to say how many Becker made. Becker said he made closer to 50 percent than 70 percent, which was what he said he could hit back in the day on the playgrounds in Maryland. But two of the Panthers couldn’t top his mark. Therefore, they will have to run.
But the important part of the exercise was accomplished. Becker got to spend some time with the players, and he liked what he saw, particularly from two players who had to make their last two shots to beat him.
“That’s what you want to see, guys who can make them under pressure,” Becker said.
Hunter said free-throw shooting will likely be the first drill his team executes when regular-season practice starts on Friday. The Panthers hit a meager 59.5 percent of the free throws last year, putting them 334th out of 335 Division I teams.
And no, Becker didn’t make a sucker bet. He didn’t play in high school. He said he did practice for about 30 minutes a few weeks ago, which is the most he has shot in 15 years.
Hunter declined to participate in Tuesday’s contest.
“I refuse to beat him in anything,” Hunter said. “He signs my check. So, I’m good.”
– Doug Roberson, AJC. Follow me on twitter @ajcgsu.