Archive for December, 2011

And now the fun begins

Here’s a short one to tide you over. The blog will be on a break next week for the Holidays.

Georgia State set a school record last night in winning its ninth consecutive basketball game.

Nine consecutive wins is quite the accomplishment. However, as has been noted by esteemed colleague Mark Bradley, and a few of you, the quality of the opponents hasn’t been that great. No one can predict that when the schedules are made, but it is what it is.

That won’t be true anymore as the Panthers dive into the meat of the CAA schedule, starting with a trifecta that should provide a good indication of how much progress this team has made under new coach Ron Hunter.

The Panthers host Drexel on Jan. 2, before hitting the road to face VCU, which made the Final Four last year, and George Mason, coached by Paul Hewitt.

Coincidentally, those teams were picked Nos. 1, 3, and 2 in the coaches’ preseason poll. Georgia State was picked to finish in 11th place.

According to kenpom.com’s ratings …

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Hunter’s goals bigger than win streak or beating Georgia Southern

Georgia State basketball coach Ron Hunter doesn’t want anyone to think that Thursday’s game against rival Georgia Southern is anything more than just another test.

But there is more than bragging rights at stake.

A victory would be the Panthers’ ninth consecutive, a surprising new school record for a team still learning their new coach’s systems. Hunter said a record is nice, but that’s not the motivation.

“When I was hired, no one here said, ‘Coach we brought you here to beat Georgia Southern,’ ” he said. “At the end of the day we want bigger things.”

Those bigger things include making the NCAA tournament. Hunter recognizes the rivalry between the two schools, a distant “we’re the real GSU” feud that seems to be getting more bitter now that Georgia State has football. He recognizes that his administration, Georgia State’s alumni and its fans want to beat the Eagles. He wants the win too, but he wants it so that his seniors can have another positive memory as they …

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Georgia State matches a record with 8th win

The Georgia State men’s basketball team won its eighth consecutive game with a 71-68 victory over Utah Valley on Saturday. The mark ties a record set by by the 2000-01 team, the last Panthers team to make it to the NCAA tournament.

Georgia State (8-3) will get a chance to set a new record when it hosts Georgia Southern on Thursday.

The Panthers were led by Devonta White and Jihad Ali, who combined to score 33 points. Ali’s steal in the final seconds secured the win.

A few quick takeaways from the game:

The Panthers thought Utah Valley might be a tough place to play because of the altitude and the fact they would be facing unknown officials. The Panthers fell behind by nine in the first half but used a 10-0 run to take a halftime lead. That seems like a good sign. The team could have collapsed at that point in the first half, but come back. Hunter said earlier in the week that he has had a sense that the team seems like its waiting on for its bubble to burst. They were called …

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Tim Tebow and Georgia State’s winning streak

This will appear in Saturday’s paper, but I thought I’d go ahead and post it now:

“Tim Tebow” is one of the reasons behind Georgia State’s seven-game winning streak in basketball.

Coach Ron Hunter said without “Tebow,” the Panthers wouldn’t have a chance to tie the school’s longest win streak when it visits Utah Valley on Saturday.

Hunter’s “Tebow” isn’t the one who signs off on Twitter as GB2 (God Bless and Go Broncos), but there are some similarities.

His Tebow is James Fields, good-naturedly described by Hunter as one of the least athletic guards he has ever played. But, like the NFL’s Tebow whose perceived lack of skill is offset by 7-1 record as a starter, Fields has a certain quality his coach loves.

“He can’t shoot, he can’t pass, he’s not really athletic, he just knows how to win,” Hunter said, half-jokingly. “Everyone laughs [when I call him that], but that’s who he is. Since he’s been back, we’re 7-1 and I’m not ashamed to say I’ll call him that every time. I’ll …

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Panthers say they are having fun again

Sorry that it’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been enjoying some time off. I hope you are getting some time off, as well.

When Ron Hunter took over Georgia State’s basketball program, he discussed how he wanted the players to regain the fun feelings they had while playing in high school.

He didn’t want he culture of losing that seemed to permeate the program to beat his team before he even got a chance to start implementing his systems.

And then they started off losing the season’s first three games.

Hunter said it was the best thing could have happened.

“We had just 2 ½ weeks to prepare for the season,” he said. “When you have a new team, new system, new coach, it’s just too early. It’s just too early and you play some established basketball programs. I had to make changes. I realized there’s certain things I couldn’t do that I’ve done the past 17 years.”

He simplified the defense and the team has rattled off seven consecutive wins with a chance to tie the record …

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GSU hammers FIU

Here’s a copy of last night’s game story, if you didn’t see it.

Georgia State coach Ron Hunter arrived earlier this year with a reputation for a high-powered offense.

Well, the Panthers’ defense is not to be overlooked.

Georgia State (5-3) blew out Florida International 73-47 on Thursday at the Sports Arena by limiting Isiah Thomas’ team to 24.1-percent shooting, including 20 missed 3-pointers in 24 tries.

“In 18 years I don’t think I’ve had a team like this defensively,” Hunter said.

It was the Panthers’ fifth consecutive win, the longest winning streak since the 2003-04 season. They started the season with three consecutive losses at the World Vision Classic in Seattle as the team began adjusting to Hunter’s up-tempo systems.

When they got back to Atlanta, Hunter decided to scrap some of the defensive concepts he was trying to institute in Seattle and went back to more familiar schemes, such as a 1-3-1 matchup zone and different presses.

The Panthers have picked up …

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Hunter will coach barefoot on Jan. 12

Georgia State men’s basketball coach Ron Hunter will coach barefoot on Jan. 12 against UNC-Wilmington to support Samaritan’s Feet, a charity he has worked with for several years.

Hunter has been coaching one game barefoot each season for the past five years. The goal is to help raise $100,000 to begin to provide shoes for the more than 3 million children around the world that don’t have a pair.

Ten dollars will allow Samaritan’s Feet to provide shoes and socks to a child.

The Panthers will host Florida International tonight.

Here’s a story I wrote about Hunter and Samaritan’s Feet earlier this year:

Hunter knows free shoes can change a life

To understand why Ron Hunter is traveling halfway around the world to a politically unstable country, it’s necessary to hear how a pair of red-and-white high tops and a pair of black and white soccer shoes changed three lives.

Hunter, Georgia State’s basketball coach since March, will travel with Samaritan’s Feet, a charitable …

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