Photo by Rich Von Biberstein
Here are three more things I learned following Georgia State’s 69-66 win over Georgia Southern on Tuesday at the GSU Sports Arena. The Panthers (12-4, 5-2 Sun Belt) will play at Appalachian State (4-13, 2-4) on Thursday
T.J. Shipes was locked in. Georgia State Ron Hunter turned to T.J. Shipes after the game and tried to insult him.
“Cut your hair,” he said.
It was a joke.
Hunter said he and Shipes were at each other a little bit on Sunday and Monday after Saturday’s embarrassing loss to Louisiana-Lafayette. Shipes and fellow forward Markus Crider were dominated in that game.Shipes scored two points, didn’t grab a rebound and had four fouls against the Cajuns.
He bounced back on Tuesday with 14 points and 13 rebounds for a double-double.
So, Hunter reasoned that maybe he and Shipes need to snarl at each other more often.
The team is going to need more games like that from Shipes and Crider, who scored 14 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and played point forward for most of 43 minutes.
Still trying to figure this team out. Crider and Shipes must maintain their consistency on offense and defense because the team is struggling to find an identity.
It can be a really good defensive team.
It can be a really good offensive team.
But it seldom does both at the same time and has yet to do either (or both) for a full game this season.
There was a stretch during the second half during which the Panthers showed their potential.
Trailing 39-29 with 16:53 left because it couldn’t rebound and couldn’t stop the Eagles’ 3-point shooters- themes from the Cajuns game and past losses — the Panthers went on a 16-2 run to take a 47-41 lead with 10:49 left.
Shipes and Dennis, known more for their defense than offense, sparked the run. Shipes had a layup, block and layup. Dennis had a steal, rebound and layup. Shipes followed with an offensive rebound and tip-in. Dennis had a another steal and later another layup. Shipes added two free throws and Dennis followed with a steal, layup and a few seconds later another layup.
The team seems to play differently – with more energy – when Dennis and Shipes are on the court together.
Isaiah Williams brings more of a traditional offense to the team, but Dennis seems to bring that needed spark that comes from his athleticism and daring on offense and defense.
It’s like what Hunter said after the season’s first game when he said he was handing Dennis the keys, only to soon change his mind and move Williams into the starting lineup. It may be time to put Dennis back into the starting lineup.
Great game, but caution is needed. While it’s always fun for a school to defeat its rival, this is a victory that shouldn’t be thought of as a season-changer.
The Eagles feature 11 players who are sophomores, redshirt freshmen or freshmen. The Panthers, by contrast, started three seniors, a redshirt junior and redshirt sophomore.
So, that it took to overtime for Georgia State, a much more experienced and deeper team, to win is probably something that should be more concerning than bragged about.
Hunter praised his team’s character after the game, but also noted that it doesn’t have the highest basketball IQ.
He could have been referring to any number of examples, including Hollowell’s turnover with 2:11 in overtime and his team leading by six when we didn’t see a Georgia Southern player creeping up behind him after grabbing a defensive rebound; Ware’s turnover in the open court less than a minute later; or Isaiah Williams’ turnover with 20 seconds left.
That penchant for unforced mistakes is something that must be fixed if the Panthers are to repeat as Sun Belt champs and make it back to the NCAA tournament.