GSU’s Hunter: ‘At some point, you’re going to have to say these kids are pretty good.’

Before they left the court after defeating VCU 55-53 on Wednesday, Georgia State’s Jihad Ali walked over to coach Ron Hunter and thanked him.

It was the first time Ali and the Panthers’ six-man senior class had won at the Siegel Center.

Ali said it was the biggest victory of his career. Hunter said the moment is something that he will always remember.

“That meant a lot to me,” Hunter said.

Now the Panthers, winners of a school-record 11 consecutive games, will continue their reputation-building road-trip at George Mason on Saturday.

It’s no secret that Georgia State’s bonafides have come into question based upon the teams they have beaten. However, Drexel, victim No. 10, was picked to win the CAA. VCU, No. 11 and a Final Four participant last year, was picked third. George Mason, which will host the Panthers at 7 p.m., was picked second.

Hunter said the constant questioning of his team’s worth is both tiresome and invigorating.

It’s tiresome because he said he’s never coached at a place where he has to make excuses for winning.

It’s invigorating because he uses that grist to add mass to the chip on his players’ shoulders.

“At some point, you’re going to have to say these kids are pretty good,” Hunter said. “It’s OK for Georgia State to win. It’s OK that we are on top of the CAA.

“We aren’t going anywhere. It’s OK that we are having success.”

To continue the streak against the Patriots, coached by former Georgia Tech leader Paul Hewitt, Hunter said the team must continue doing what it does best: play defense.

It’s also not a secret that most of the Panthers’ opponents have said afterward that they didn’t play their best offensive game. Hunter says Georgia State’s match-up zone has something to do with that. Opponents are shooting 37.5-percent. The Rams shot 27.1 percent; the Dragons 31.9.

Hunter seems puzzled that it’s another disconnect between the result and the cause.

“There are success stories all over the country,” Hunter said. “I keep playing it up because it’s a great way to feed my kids. My kids see it and we stay hungry.”

He says his team must also stay poised. Hunter said he was impressed that his team never blinked in a sold-out and loud Siegel Center. The Rams made two runs, one in the first half in which they took a brief lead, and another in the final minutes of the second half in which they cut the Panthers’ lead to 2. Each time, Georgia State answered. It was just the third time under Shaka Smart that VCU held an opponent under 65 points and lost. The Rams are 42-3 in those games. It was also the least amount of turnovers (13) that the Rams had forced all season, evidence of Georgia State’s poise.

Hunter said he would have given his team an A for Wednesday’s result, but missed free throws (two at the end would have sealed the win had they gone in) and turnovers were slight blemishes.

However, having things to work on seems to be exactly what the players want.

“We’re just learning how to continue to the success we’ve been having doing what we need to do: Sharing the ball and playing the great defense,” Ali said.

For those who already have asked if Hunter will remain at Georgia State past this season, he laughed and said don’t worry.

“I haven’t even brought my family to Atlanta yet!” I don’t even have a couch. Don’t have to worry about those things.”

– Doug Roberson, AJC. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu

46 comments Add your comment

Hawks4Eva

January 5th, 2012
1:32 pm

Way to Go GSU and Coach Hunter! ! Sure could use you across the street at Ga TECH!

Panthersville.com

January 5th, 2012
1:37 pm

Great win and great career-leading performance by Jihad Ali last night!

Jee S. You

January 5th, 2012
1:40 pm

Time to show Hewitt he was lucky to get out of Atlanta when he did!

Shane Douglas

January 5th, 2012
1:43 pm

Thanks Doug, can’t wait to see the inaugural Hewitt/Hunter clash in the first annual Checkers vs. Chess match up

GStateBen

January 5th, 2012
1:48 pm

Great work Doug.

Signees RJ, TJ, Cam and David are excited about this team. They were on Twitter last night very excited about the game and all of them listen to the games. We’re building something great here folks one game at a time.

Super fan Nick Bray is staying in Virginia and will be at the George Mason game.

Panama

January 5th, 2012
1:59 pm

Kool Aid…get your Kool Aid…step right up..

GSU Faculty Member

January 5th, 2012
2:00 pm

I advocated strongly for Barnes dismissal after years and years of flailing but to no avail. I was disappointed with this hire as I had not heard of the guy and wanted better. Silly me. Lefty used to say that if you could win the recruiting battle in ATL only, you would go to the big dance every year because there is so much talent here. Let’s hope so….

Sluggo

January 5th, 2012
2:04 pm

Thanks Doug and thank you CRH for making Georgia State Basketball relevant again! Could we really go 3-0 in arguably our toughest stretch of the year? Just wow!

English

January 5th, 2012
2:07 pm

Great write up Doug. I’m loving myself some Georgia State University Basketball!

GSUBB

January 5th, 2012
2:13 pm

@GSU Faculty Member do not feel bad, a lot of us had that reaction at first, but the second I met CRH I had no doubts he was the right man for the job.

As GStateBen mentioned the future is bright as we have arguably our best signing class ever coming in next year. Unlike the Lefty years, this team will be built on recruiting freshman not transfers and JUCOs.

STATEment

January 5th, 2012
2:25 pm

Love the article! I can’t put into words how excited I am. I held my breath for a while, but these last two wins have proved legitimacy to me. If we could knock off GMU we come back to what should be a packed house and very winnable stretch off games! This could be a magical year! Stay healthy and focused! Row steady state.

GSU Alumni

January 5th, 2012
2:27 pm

A humble comment from Coach Hunter “It’s OK for Georgia State to win. It’s OK that we are having success.”

He is a humble man, but yet he is the leading the best basket ball team in the state.

Thanks Coach and the fabulous Panthers !!!

GSUAlumBaseball81

January 5th, 2012
2:45 pm

Great write up! Thanks Doug! Keep on coaching and teaching CRH you are the man!!! GO GSU PANTHERS!!!

GeorgiaState1913

January 5th, 2012
3:06 pm

GO STATE! Looking forward to a totally unexpected run to the NCAA tourney!

GSU '80

January 5th, 2012
3:16 pm

finally…………………..something.

GSU '80

January 5th, 2012
3:17 pm

Maybe……………………….

STATEment

January 5th, 2012
3:18 pm

I love that attitude and confidence this team is starting to play with. We HAVE TO FILL UP THE SPORTS ARENA FOR THESE GUYS!!!! Atlanta come out and support these guys! Go Panthers!

JacketFanMarcus

January 5th, 2012
3:20 pm

This GSU thing is confusing. I’m a 92 tech alum. GSU was Georgia Southern.

AJC needs to set an editorial standard. Like Ga State, Ga Tech, and GSU (for Georgia Southern)

Thanks goodness no one refers to Georgia Tech by its initials – GIT!

Larry Green

January 5th, 2012
3:28 pm

After all thos lean 70 yeras was student manager and we could barely win 11 in 3 seasons so maybe post Lefty we have a chance to be that sleeper at the big dance I still have my letter Jacket and GO Panthers and lets get a new gym

glsjunior

January 5th, 2012
3:33 pm

JacketFanMarcus is right. Sometimes I get confused between Tech and ITT Tech.

GSUUSSOCCER

January 5th, 2012
3:39 pm

Doug, great article and thanks for the continuous coverage of the team and the success that Coach Hunter has brought to GSU. I look forward to the GMU game and hope that we make it 12 in row!

@JacketsFanMarcus…Give it a rest…seriously. If this confuses you, then I seriously doubt that you graduated from GT. My father went to both GT and Southern, and even he understands.

Confused high school freshman

January 5th, 2012
3:42 pm

I am a high school freshman and i dream to grow up to be an engineer.
Would you please advice me to prepare for my career at IIT Tech or GA Tech or GIT?

GSUUSSOCCER

January 5th, 2012
3:44 pm

Doug, Thanks for the continuous coverage of the team and what Hunter has been able to do with these guys. I hope we make it 12 straight against GMU.

@JacketFanMarcus, I seriously doubt that you graduated from Tech if you cannot figure this out, it’s not rocket science.

tc11

January 5th, 2012
3:47 pm

@JacketFanMarcus I’m a REAL GSU and Tech grad and you’re delusional.

Scott B

January 5th, 2012
3:49 pm

Somebody sell Coach Hunter a house, quick! Sounds like he could leave tomorrow and barely need a U-haul trailer. State needs to make it hard for him to leave.

zgoldatl

January 5th, 2012
4:23 pm

If you can’t figure that out Jacketfanmarcus, how did you hold up in calculus at The Institute? I think your a Ga Southern fan mad that the real GSU, (Georgia State), gets more media attention than a GA Southern team that went to the national semis. Nobody cares about Statesboro

GSUGrad06

January 5th, 2012
4:25 pm

Good story Doug. Nice to hear Hunter say this stuff. Next up, George Mason!

G S U

January 5th, 2012
4:58 pm

Football > Basketball in the south

Georgia Southern wins this year.

PT

January 5th, 2012
5:30 pm

Enjoy the basketball season! Has anyone looked at the 2012 football schedule? It’s going to be absolutely brutal!

GSUtimes2

January 5th, 2012
5:37 pm

@JacketFanMarcus- We became Georgia State University (GSU) in 1969. Georgia Southern College officially became Georgia Southern University (GSU) on July 1, 1990 (that means they weren’t even GSU when you started college). Easy math. We were GSU first. We also like to point out…. W W W dot G S U dot E D U.

As far as I’m concerned, the editorial standard can be GSoU for Southern.

Also, fun fact: Georgia State started out as Tech’s business school.

GSUtimes2

January 5th, 2012
5:38 pm

All the way back in 1913 that is…

GSPanther

January 5th, 2012
5:38 pm

gsu.edu look it up bud.

SRam

January 5th, 2012
5:57 pm

Rams fan here. Great win for you guys. I know it’s going to sound strange but we missed wide open shots, no defender in the face type of stuff. I don’t know maybe they felt rushed but didn’t look it.
GSU had great poise because our crowd was pretty relentless. Ask your fan who wears the number 10 jersey; ask him also why the coach had to move to near half court during timeouts to talk to your team. No one at VCU (or anywhere) likes to lose and especially at home; maybe we can repay that favor later in the season. Best of luck against Mason and Old Dominion; no VCU fan roots for them at almost any time.
I would add that it seems to me that Barnes recruited a lot of jucos too; if it works it could be a quick fix, but if it doesn’t (and it didn’t), you get the results y’all had over the past seasons.

We don’t mind good competitive teams in the league, although we would like to beat them at home. In the long run, it makes the whole league better. All of the CAA could have done better in non-conference play. If we have better teams, we will. I will also leave you with this parting shot. We are pretty decent this year and we have one senior. If we don’t get you this year, we’ll get you next year.

Randyinsavannah

January 5th, 2012
6:23 pm

Enter your comments here

Randyinsavannah

January 5th, 2012
6:25 pm

Why are Southern fans trying to trash GSU. Didn’t they recently beat us by 20. We should still be licking our wombs from that woodshed beating North Dakota State put on us. Get over it already as you make everybody look like fools!

English

January 5th, 2012
7:36 pm

@ Randyinsavannah – I appreciate your modesty and GSoU needs more of it because the GSU discussion is lame. Also I’m pretty sure it’s not humanly possible to lick a “womb.” Pretty gross if you ask me. lol

Panther98

January 5th, 2012
9:07 pm

Ali Ali Ali Ali Ali, Ali, Ali
Ali Ali Ali Ali Ali, Ali, Ali
Ali Ali Ali Ali Ali, Ali, Ali
Ali Ali Ali Ali Ali, Ali, Ali
Ali Ali Ali Ali Ali, Ali, Ali
Ali Bomaye
Ali Bomaye

Pennsylvania CAA Fan

January 5th, 2012
10:38 pm

You guys are really looking good this year. Very impressive wins. Congrats on the season thus far. Might try and catch the Drexel game. This writer and AJC blog are really top-notch for the school. Too bad those other GSU people complain all the time about the CAA school. At first (when I found this site) I thought it was some joking and poking by them. After following this school it looks like many of those folks are serious. Sad. This is an ATL school and an ATL paper and as many of you point out was a university long before the other one. I am happy for the school and the fans. Enjoy the victory and I hope you pack the arena. To the other folks at the other GSU – you really look like silly children to the “outsider on this board”…. just saying move on and be happy for this school.

GSU05Grad

January 5th, 2012
11:40 pm

@Pennsylvania CAA Fan – What school in the CAA do you cheer for? I would guess Drexel?

We are lucky to have this blog, which helps bring more attention to both our athletics programs and our school as a whole…Thanks Doug.

2nd game in a row for first place in the CAA, hope the guys play lights out up in Fairfax!

[...] and bring up the weak strength of schedule. Coach Ron Hunter comes to the team’s defense in this interview with Doug Roberson of the AJC. [...]

PantherCJ

January 6th, 2012
10:38 am

Can you imagine what Hunter can do with guys he’s bringing in these next few years? But til then Go Panthers! Go Seniors and White!

tc

January 6th, 2012
10:42 am

I attended Ga Southern in the 80s and then transferred to Ga State where I graduated. Ga Sate had been GSU since 1969. When I was at Ga southern if was not GSU or reffered to as GSU. When I attended State GSU was widely used as a logo on everything. Even Ga Southern does not use a GSU logo because they know if more accuarately reflects Ga State. I wish Ga Southern success but hearing fans whine that they are the real GSU is a stupid arguement that will never hold up. Go ahead and google ga southern logos and see if you can find a GSU, it’s not there. So get over it. Some say whinning a football championship makes them worthy of stealing the logo. Oh, that makes a lot of sense.

SRam

January 6th, 2012
10:42 am

Y’all have some catching up to do to stay at the top. Y’all have to get more folks out and make your home games a tough environment. It takes time. You will have to scratch and claw to get any respect in your own state. VCU is a basketball only school – no football. Think how difficult is to get any press during football season with University of Virginia and Virginia Tech in our state on top of good FCS football programs at JMU, ODU and UR. Y’all face the same problem for your basketball team during basketball season. Somehow you have to keep after it and get people to your games. Here’s what your coach said about playing at VCU:
“This is a tremendous program and an unbelievable environment,” Georgia State Head Coach Ron Hunter said. “I wish I could take this and send it back to Georgia State with us because this is what it’s all about. This is a major league environment. What a great place for college basketball.”

Shout out to all GSU fans – go to espn.com and read Andy Katz’s blog about Ga State.

Too Funny

January 6th, 2012
10:43 am

All you have in Statesboro is a football team that scored 7 points against North Dakota State.
Your school has no post graduate programs worth a crap, your basketball team just lost by 20 points to state, oh yeah how’s that law school coming along….oh yeah you don’t have one. 30 years and still no hope of moving to the FBS. Not sure why when smaller schools with smaller enrollments such as Boise State have made the move in a shorter time span….. I guess mediocrity suits you just fine. Why are you even responding to this blog shouldn’t you be watching real world or auditioning to be part of the cast. Again …students who choose state over southern choose a better education over entertainment.

tc

January 6th, 2012
10:56 am

The other interesting thing is I have never heard any Ga State alumni or fan complain about Ga Southern using GSU. We don’t really care what you do. Ga Southern fans are the ones that always feel the need to whine and complain and bring it up. If you want to call yourselves GSU go for it, just don’t be irritated that Ga State continues to use a logo and initials that we have widely used since 1969.

tribman

January 6th, 2012
11:19 am

As an alumni of GSU 1970, I have always been proud that we tried hard. Jack Waters back in the 60’s, one mistake you are on the bench, lose lose lose etc, then Lefty the greatest then lose lose lose etc then Hunter, OMG we may be on to something. Ain’t no dog, ain’t no wrek, just a proud Panther of GSU.