Here are three quick post-game thoughts:
1. Don’t be fooled by the score, the Panthers played well. Did they execute as consistently as they would like on offense and defense? No. There were a few hurried shots and a few defensive lapses when two men would rush at one shooter. But that’s to be expected in the season opener, especially when the team is composed almost entirely of freshmen or transfers who have never played before in coach Ron Hunter’s system. James Vincent, a senior, seemed the most calm on the court and played well. He didn’t start, likely because Hunter didn’t want him to get into foul trouble. That seemed prescient because his replacement, Denny Burguillos, picked up two quick fouls before the first Cameron Crazy could reach for a throat lozenge. A few of the new faces, Markus Crider for example, showed an aggressiveness that indicated they won’t be intimidated anywhere.
2. Georgia State won’t play another team with the height (and the Devils played with one Plumlee tied behind their back) and defensive discipline of the Blue Devils again this season unless it makes the NCAA tournament. I can remember two plays in which R.J. Hunter got a clean look at the basket. Every other time he was fronted by a Duke defender. He hit 4 of his 11 shots. The Devils’ transition defense was also very good, something which Hunter noted after the game. Devonta White usually gets a lot of points in transition, and the Devils made it very hard for him to locate lanes on fast-break opportunities. The Panthers got just six fast-break points. Still he had chances, something that the team should be able to count on in subsequent games.
3. Don’t worry about Manny Atkins. Making his return to college basketball after 18 months out of the game because of his transfer from Virginia Tech, Atkins didn’t have a good game. He missed seven of his nine shots, committed four turnovers and made some odd decisions. Hunter said after the game that he constantly reminds Atkins that when Michael Jordan left the NBA to play baseball, it took him a while to find his groove when he returned to the hardcourt. Atkins’ shots have an unusual look — the ball kind of floats, similar to the knuckleballs that Kenny Smith used to shoot. Hunter will tell him to keep shooting. The confidence — and points — will return.
– Doug Roberson, AJC. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu