Here are my three thoughts following Georgia State’s 77-72 win over Troy on Saturday at the GSU Sports Arena:
Confidence boost. That Georgia State won without Ryan Harrow must be a confidence boost for the team. Harrow was the team’s second-leading scorer, averaging almost 20 points per game. That’s a lot to replace, even just for one game.
That the team got substantial minutes from sophomore Isaiah Dennis must also be a confidence boost. It’s no secret that Ron Hunter can use a short bench in big games, so that Dennis could come in and score a career-high nine points may give Hunter the confidence to use Dennis more in big games so that Harrow and Hunter don’t have to continue to play 35-plus minutes most games.
That Dennis missed a 3-pointer shouldn’t be a concern. He was open. He took the shot. That’s what he was supposed to do.
Hunter’s back. R.J. Hunter seems to have found the shooting stroke in the past two games that was missing in the previous three. After scoring 27 points in the loss at Louisiana-Lafayette, Hunter scored a season high 37 against Troy.
After the game, Hunter said he was physically exhausted after playing his fourth game in a week.
Sometimes, exhaustion can be a good thing. Your mind clears and your muscle memory takes over.
That Hunter could score when Troy knew he was going to be the offensive option makes what he did that much more impressive.
The defense. I would be remiss not to go into the 13 3-pointers Troy hit against Georgia State. The Trojans were averaging 6.1, sparking Ron Hunter to remark afterward, “again we get a team that hasn’t shot like that all year.”
Teams seem to have a habit of hitting a lot of 3-pointers against Georgia State. I thought I would try to turn “seems” into a true/false analysis.
Here’s what the numbers say:
|Opponent||3-pointers hit||Current season average|
|Tennessee Temple||5||None available|
|at Iowa State||8||8|
|at Colorado State||9||7|
|vs. Chicago State||5||6|
|vs. W. Carolina||8||7|
|at Old Dominion||5||7|
|at Green Bay||7||5|
As you can see, four teams hit their season average or fewer of 3-pointers against Georgia State.
So, Hunter shouldn’t be surprised that teams are coming in and bombing the zone.
Now, to complete the picture one must see if teams are also hitting a higher percentage of 3-pointers against Georgia State than they do against everyone else.
|Opponent||3-point %||Season 3-point %|
|Tennessee Temple||0.208||No info available|
|at Iowa State||0.296||0.344|
|at Colorado State||0.391||0.36|
|vs. Chicago State||0.238||0.28|
|vs. W. Carolina||0.348||0.341|
|at Old Dominion||0.217||0.333|
|at Green Bay||0.467||0.326|
You’ll notice that four teams shot worse against Georgia State’s defense than they do during the season. Some shot about the same.
None of this changes the fact that Hunter will not give up the zone defense, but if you’ve though it seems odd that so many teams shoot well against Georgia State, you now have proof.
Having written that, it is part of Hunter’s strategy. Teams hit 3-pointers at a lower rate than other shots, so it make sense to keep inviting them to shoot the shots that are the farthest from the hoops. The only problem is when they are left open to do so, or they keep making them.
There were some of both issues against Troy. A few of the 3s were contested, but a few of them weren’t.