A few thoughts after Georgia State’s 75-64 win over Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday at the GSU Sports Arena.
Shooter. Shooter. Shooter. R.J. Hunter needed one point to become Georgia State’s all-time scoring leader, a record of 1,515 he shared with Rodney Hamilton. Everyone knew it would come, but after a few minutes I wondered how it would come: 3-pointer, free throw, fast-break layup? There weren’t many points being scored, but there wasn’t an identifiable pattern in the game and it’s always fun to try to guess how a historic moment might occur.
Like most teams, the Cajuns worked very hard to deny Hunter the ball. One of the first times he got it, he passed up a 3-pointer. I think on any other game, he likely would have shot. This game, I think he worked hard to not appear that he was forcing things to get the record. It finally came on a tough shot by Hunter from about 8-feet out. Here is an outstanding photo gallery of the day. And here is a video of the shot. And here is The Voice, who needs a new Nick Arbuckle-inspired hairstyle (check out @DougRobersonAJC on twitter) with the call.
Hamilton, who is a very nice guy, was part of a pre-game ceremony honoring the two all-time leader scorers. Ron Hunter thanked Hamilton after the game.
Defense. For 30 minutes it looked like a different Georgia State defense on the floor. There were very few open looks for 3-pointers in the corners or the wings, a consistent problem for the Panthers over the year. Unlike in past games, very few times was there one Georgia State player trying to guard three players on one-half of the floor because of players over rotating to the other side in the zone. There was communication, lots of it, by Georgia State’s players on defense. As a result, the Cajuns shot 25 percent in the first half.
Ron Hunter and T.J. Shipes said the better defense was the result of their ability to finally get some practice time in and work on their “slides” on the defense. Slides are the rotations.
Things began to change in the final 10 minutes as the Cajuns desperately tried to get back into the game and the Panthers’ big men Shipes and Curt Washington started to get into foul trouble. The problem didn’t come from outside. It came from inside. It seemed that the Cajuns got at least two attempts on most trips down the court in finishing with 15 offensive rebounds, of which nine came in the second half.
This is a different team when Shipes doesn’t get into foul trouble and can play because he has a knack for getting rebounds on both ends of the floor. Washington is an excellent shot blocker but not as good a rebounder and the Cajuns were able to take advantage.
Hunter said the better play on defense actually started in the previous game, a 60-54 win at Arkansas State. The Panthers held the Red Wolves to 28.6-percent shooting. They held the Cajuns to 33.9-percent shooting and forced 15 turnovers.
Harrow and Ware. Ryan Harrow was a man possessed on Saturday. He was Georgia State’s offense early with a 3-pointer, layup and jumper. After one 3-pointer, he appeared to salute the NBA scouts on the sideline. It may have been a salute to the student section or band. All were sitting in the same area.
But he was more than just offense. He hustled back to break up a fast break and was generally a pain in the Cajuns’ side. He finished with 19 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists.
It must have been the shoes, a pair of white, lime green and coral Nikes that I’ve never seen him wear before. Hunter said when Harrow wore them to shoot-around, he actually thought they were house-slippers. Either way, if Harrow is going to keep up this impressive pace, the whole team should wear them.
With Harrow the spark early, Kevin Ware was the spark late. He would usually get the ball on a kick-out pass around the mid-court line and quickly build up a head of steam toward the basket. He finished with 11 points and three rebounds. Six of those points came in the final eight minutes.