Game Day Preview: Georgia State Panthers


George State University (Public – Research Institution)
Mascot: Panthers
Location: Atlanta, GA
Enrollment: 30,000

2010-2011 Record: 12-19 (7-13 in the Colonial Athletic Association)
RPI: 223
Coach: Ron Hunter (1st year)

First Thought: Georgia State must be the largest major state university no one has ever heard of. I had no idea they had 30,000 students, were located in Atlanta, and were considered a “research” institution. Clearly they are overshadowed by Georgia Tech (also in Atlanta) and the University of Georgia.

Best win in 2010-11: 76-66 over Virginia Commonwealth (RPI 49)
Worst loss in 2010-11: 74-72 to Georga Southern (RPI 341)

Average Scoring: 61.9 ppg (#310)
Average for Opponents: 64.1 ppg

Synopsis: Georgia State returns a roster full of experience from last year’s disappointing team. They only graduated two players who had significant playing time, but those players only averaged 6.5 and 5.4 ppg respectively. This team had very balanced scoring. Not a single player on their team averaged more than 10.0 ppg, with their highest scorer Eric Buckner averaging 9.5 ppg. However, at 6’10”, the senior-to-be could pose some matchup issues when Aziz is not on the floor. Buckner lead the team with 49 blocked shots last year and at 5.6 rebounds per game.

Their next two highest scorers, 6’5″ Ggard Ali Jihad and 6’7″ forward Brandon McGee will both be 5th year seniors and both averaged more than 7 points per game. Another senior is 6’3″ guard James Fields who led the team in assists.  6’6″ senior forward Josh Micheaux had some breakout performances late in the season, including 17 points against George Mason and 14 points against UNC-Wilmington in the CAA quarter-finals. Look for that quintet of seniors to be the heart-and-soul of this team next year as they try and make a run at the CAA title and a birth in the NCAA tournament.

Devonta White is also a new player to be watching for, here is what a Georgia State fan and blogger said about him:

"Prior to injuring his ankle in Game 12 vs. VCU, the team was 4-1 record with White in the starting lineup and he averaged 8.8 points, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steal per contest as a starter. Even more impressively, the team has scored 11 points per game more with White in the starting lineup than before. He missed 11 total games last season and was never quite 100% in his return. The team went 1-10 in those game. He has gained 15lbs (from 160lbs to 175lbs) and will be counted on to lead this team. He also was one of the best ball handler on the team averaging Asst./TO rate of 1.37/1."

My analysis: Don’t let the low scoring last year fool you. New coach Ron Hunter loves for his players to get up the floor and shoot quickly. Hunter coached IUPUI for 17 years. When hired he was quoted as saying “Once you see us play, you’ll come back” Hunter told the gathering. “The way we play is a little different; I’ve never ever had a shot clock go off. I’ve never sat down [while coaching] in 17 years.” The Hunter Method is to press and run. “Our shots are either three-pointers or dunks” he said.

It appears Romar scheduled Georgia State for the same reason he schedules so many of those no-name mid-majors we see every year. They may look on paper to be a weak team, but they may just have the right situation to put together a pretty good year with a senior-laden team and end up having a pretty good RPI when it is all said and done. While I doubt they’ll win the CAA over teams like Virginia Commonwealth, George Mason, and Old Dominion, having those teams in that league will also boost their RPI and ours as well. This is a good first game for a relatively young Huskies club to get their feet wet with. While Georgia State doesn’t have the talent or athleticism of UW, they may have the ability to keep the game close for a while through their veteran leadership. However, in the end, the Huskies will pull away and I think we’ll get to see Brendan Sherrer on the floor.

My Prediction: UW 103 GSU 80