Two GSU seniors share some memories

Six Georgia State seniors will play what is most likely their last game at the Sports Arena when Old Dominion visits on Wednesday.

Jihad Ali, Eric Buckner, James Fields, Brandon McGee, Josh Micheaux and Jamar Taylor will be honored before the game.

“Coach Hunter has helped myself and the rest of us go out, winning almost 20 games,” Ali said. “I don’t want  my senior year to end. I just go out and play, not like it’s my last home game, but just as hard as I can.”

The possibility of 20 wins is something few predicted before the season. The Panthers were picked to finish 11th in the preseason. When he talks to his players about it, Hunter says they were 12th.

If they win on Wednesday, they can keep alive their hopes of finishing in fourth place in the CAA. Doing so ensures a bye in the first round of the CAA tournament. They would still need to win at William on Mary on Saturday, hope ODU loses to Drexel on Saturday, and need Delaware to lose at least one more game against either Towson or Northeastern.

The odds don’t seem to be in GSU’s favor, but the team has been defying probabilities most of the season.

The team lost 19 games last season under previous coach Rod Barnes. It lost 20 the year before that, 20 the year before that, and 21 during Ali’s freshman season (he redshirted as a sophomore).

On Saturday, Hunter implied he thinks the team can win the CAA tournament.

What happened?

Ali said the players were tired of losing.

When Hunter was hired, he asked them to believe in themselves and believe in his systems. The players began to improve their endurance.

“Any time you lose, it stinks,” Ali said. “I’ve lost a lot in my career prior to this year,  not going too far in the CAA tournament.”

Perhaps no player is a better example of possibilities than James Fields.

He struggled academically in high school. He said nobody believed he could maintain a high enough GPA to stay eligible.

Barnes took a chance on him.

Fields still struggled on the court and classroom, especially during his freshman year.

“In sports, I didn’t know what was going on. In the classroom, you had nobody to help you,” Fields said.

But then he learned the lesson Hunter was trying teach, albeit under a different coach.

“I understand that I have to do the work,” he said. He is majoring in public policy.

He earned the CAA Commissioner’s Academic Award for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons. This year’s winners haven’t been announced. He also was named to the CAA All-Academic First Team last season.

“I’m a much better person, much wiser,” he said. “Everything’s better.”

Ali and Fields shared a few of their memories:

Best win at sports arena

Ali: Defeating George Mason my sophomore year. I think I had a career-high against them.

Fields: Beating VCU the first time my junior year.

Best win overall

Ali: This year at VCU. I never won up there, neither had any of the rest of the seniors. I would have to say that was the biggest moment of my career.

Fields: Winning at VCU this year.

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

17 comments Add your comment

GSU88

February 20th, 2012
9:03 pm

You kids should be very proud. Cannot say how excited I am for you. If you put half the effort into your endeavors that you put into the program, you will achieve greatness throughout your lives. We will never forget this season and cannot thank you enough for all the hard work and sacrifices you made.
Go PANTHERS

Mr. Beach Bum

February 20th, 2012
9:22 pm

I encourage all Georgia State fans to put their favorite memory so far of the season here, I think everyone would enjoy them.

I would be hard pressed to say my favorite moment wasn’t the win at VCU as it left 8000 fans in utter silence. They didn’t know what to do with themselves. Running a close second is the win over UNCW in a packed Sports Arena. The place was electric that night!

Ryan

February 20th, 2012
9:43 pm

Mr. Beach Bum.. you nailed my 2 favorites as well. What a special year.

I am so proud of this team and thrilled for the Seniors.

Some of us in the courtside seat holders have something special planned for the seniors on Wednesday.

GSU88

February 20th, 2012
9:54 pm

My favorite moment was the beatdown we gave W&M. Holding them to their lowest point total since 1949 was crazy!!

RidgeRunner

February 20th, 2012
10:28 pm

These are great young men. I am proud of their accomplishments. These collegiate accomplishments will them help set up to a successful life. I wish all of our seniors a great future.

Favorite moments: there are many in general it is the joy of succeeding and winning. You see it in their faces and walk. Keep it out in the following weeks.

Big Show

February 20th, 2012
10:36 pm

Hunter is hands down COY and I’m very happy these seniors are getting to experience a season like this. My favorite moment was probably checking my phone for the game cast during the 11 game win streak and realizing how much better this team was playing. And the back to back wins at home by 32 points each, just incredible.

gsu01

February 20th, 2012
10:45 pm

Awesome piece Doug! We will all miss this senior class. Great kids on and off the court!

GSU is in Atlanta

February 20th, 2012
11:11 pm

These seniors deserve to go out winners at the Sports Arena, and I wish I could be there to see them honored for all their hard work.

My best memory would be watching the VCU game on TV and being so excited that we knocked them off at home. Being able to see these guys play in person a couple times this year were the right up there with them beating VCU.

Good work Doug and I hope we beat ODU for win #20!

Occupy Hunterville

February 20th, 2012
11:25 pm

Not only have these senior given us a great ride this year, but they have set an example for future classes. These guys are a testament to perseverance.

Best moment for me was the home win over UNCW. But, I still loved the huge comeback in the home Delaware game, even if it didn’t lead to a win.

Sluggo

February 21st, 2012
1:40 am

So proud of these guys. CRH has been a blessing to this program. There have been so many great moments that it’s difficult to pick one. But the the blowout win on the road against SCSU made me step back and say this team is really good. Getting win #20 for only the fourth time in school history will go a long way to building a program.

GSU

February 21st, 2012
8:53 am

Best moment was beating Southern by 20 and will be replaced by beating ODU on Wednesday for win # 20. Let’s go Panthers…….welcome to Blue Land.

GSUAlumBaseball81

February 21st, 2012
11:37 am

Some of the loudest games ever at the GSU Sports Arena! My favorite moment was CRH orchestrating the crowd to turn up the volume and the many blocks of BIG BUCK#20. Also, the students and Pep Band getting the team and crowd fired up! Over all a GREAT season and definitely one for CRH to be proud of and one to build on for sure! GO GSU PANTHERS!!! BLUE OUT!!! Beat ODU on Wednesday!!!

GSU is in Atlanta

February 21st, 2012
12:14 pm

Don’t know how I forgot this, but the VCU loss at home was extremely memorable when Ron Hunter stood up and waved his arms and got the whole arena into the game, what an awesome moment for GSU basketball. CRH has proven he is a great leader and cheerleader for GSU, and that moment embodied it.

GSU_MEX_ALUM

February 21st, 2012
1:36 pm

I have one better for everyone on the blog!

I challenge everyone to come out tomorrow night (blue out) and let’s make that our new favorite memory!

Derek

February 21st, 2012
2:17 pm

My favorite moment was our rally against VCU at home. Even though we lost that game, that last 2 minutes was EXTREMELY electric. Hunter getting up and urgining EVERYONE to stand was probably the single greatest moment for me, and we almost pulled off the turn around.

[...] With two games remaining in the regular season, this year’s Panther team finds itself in rare company. On Senior Night in the Sports Arena, GSU can get its milestone 20th win while honoring its six seniors:  Jihad Ali, Eric Buckner, James Fields, Josh Micheaux, Brandon McGee, and Jamar Taylor.  PantherTalk is promoting a sellout to give the seniors the proper send off they have earned this season and throughout their careers. [...]

Patrick Medley

February 27th, 2012
10:37 am

As a former player (VCU/HIGH POINT UNIVERSITY), I understand the clallenges of student-athletes. I have become a GSU fan this year because of how this team and coaching staff have worked together and done so with class. I hope to see some of you at the CAA championships!