Three things to think about as Georgia State’s men’s basketball team prepares to host Wisconsin-Green Bay on Thursday at the Sports Arena.
Welcome home. The Panthers haven’t played in the Concrete Jungle (do yall like that?) since it hosted Tennessee Temple on Nov. 14 in the home opener. And it won’t play at home again until Dec. 21 when the students are out of school and responsibly enjoying their deserved Christmas break. Much has happened since the Tennessee Temple game: the Panthers were bludgeoned by Iowa State, coughed up a win against Colorado State and then rebounded to win their next four games against an involuntary manslaughter’s row of opponents. Thursday will be a chance for the rested Panthers (5-2) to make a statement that it should still be considered one of the top mid-major programs, a sheen that was tarnished in the two losses. Green Bay, members of the Horizon League, is 5-1 with wins over East Carolina, Evansville and Florida Gulf Coast.
Third scorer. To win, the Panthers must find a third scorer to complement R.J. Hunter and Ryan Harrow. It’s no secret that in four of the five wins, someone else has stepped up to score at least 11 points. When no one other than Harrow or Hunter has reached that mark team has struggled, going 1-2 with the lone victory against IUPUI, also members of the Horizon League. Kevin Ware (7.9 points per game) and Markus Crider (7.3 ppg), if he can stay out of foul trouble, seem like the promising candidates to take some of the load off Hunter (22.9 ppg) and Harrow (20.3 ppg).
The center of the defense. Curtis Washington, a 6-foot-10 center, needs to step forward defensively because Green Bay is powered by the inside-outside combination of 6-foot guard Keifer Sykes (18.5 ppg) and 6-9 forward Greg Mays (12.2 ppg and 4.7 rebounds per game). Washington has struggled with averages of 3.4 rebounds per game and just eight blocks in seven games. Four other Panthers are averaging at least that many rebounds per game. Washington has a pattern of starting strong and then not doing much the rest of the game. It will be interesting to see if Ron Hunter starts Washington based upon his performances during the winning streak. If he doesn’t, Shipes will likely start with either Washington or Jordan Session as the back up.