Here are three thoughts about Georgia State’s 64-57 loss to UAB on Tuesday in Birmingham.
(I didn’t attend the game; these are based upon listening to the radio, studying the stats and what I know from four-plus years of covering the team.)
The offense needs a point guard. The Panthers do have shooters, but what the team doesn’t have is someone to drive the lane, suck in the defense, and then toss a kick-out pass so that those shooters can get a good look. The Panthers missed 10 of their 13 3-pointers and had just 10 assists on 22 field goals. Kevin Ware can get into the free-throw lane, but he usually looks to finish at the rim. That’s not a bad thing, but that, or the kick-outs, should be his concentration on offense until he can find his jump shot. He missed nine of his 13 shots on Tuesday.
I’m curious how much longer Hunter will stay patient with the offense. He has a point guard on the roster in true freshman Austin Donaldson, but it appears that he may redshirt after not playing in four of the past five games. It may be too much to ask of a freshman.
The offense didn’t truly get going until it started using defense to create offense with about 10 minutes left in the game.
I was mildly surprised when Hunter took umbrage at my question about the efficiency of the offense following the win over IUPUI. Paraphrasing his answer, he said the group is ahead of last year’s at this point in the season.
And then the first possession against UAB resulted in a shot-clock violation. I don’t know if UAB surprised Georgia State by playing a zone, or if someone had a shot that they should have taken and didn’t, but it was a harbinger for most of the rest of the game.
The offense also needs more work against zones. The Panthers might as well get used to seeing a 2-3 zone. It has created problems for the offense when they’ve seen it this season. Middle Georgia State ran it, Emmanuel ran it and IUPUI ran a version of it. Part of the problem goes to Georgia State’s lack of a true point guard and part of it goes to the team being in a shooting slump. Jeff Thomas, who was supposed to be the deep threat, went 0-for-4, 0-for-3 from behind the arc. The freshman has more rebounds (6), fouls (7) and assists (5) than he does field goals (4) this season.
Before the Panthers made a late run to close UAB’s lead to a made basket, three of Georgia State’s starters had combined for four points. It’s hard to win when you aren’t getting any production. T.J. Shipes got into foul trouble, which affected him. Isaiah Williams didn’t start shooting until late in the game. The same is true for freshman Malik Benlevi.
The defense needs to tighten up early. UAB had no troubles against Georgia State’s zone defense in the first half. Neither did IUPUI. Neither did Ole Miss.
UAB shot 42.9 percent in the first half to build a double-digit lead in the first half, IUPUI shot 46.2 percent. Ole Miss shot 50 percent. The Panthers defense then played much better in the second half of those games.