Sure Georgia State was trying to make it back to the NCAA tournament without R.J. Hunter and Ryan Harrow, but things seemed promising without last year’s two leading scorers.
Stepping into their roles were Jeremy Hollowell, predicted by coach Ron Hunter to be a boxscore filler-upper from Indiana, and Isaiah Williams, formerly the freshman of the year in the Southern Conference.
But things didn’t turn out well.
There was no third consecutive Sun Belt regular season title.
There was no second consecutive Sun Belt tournament title.
There wasn’t yet another magical moment in the NCAA tournament.
Instead, the Panthers barely made it to New Orleans. Once there, they were dumped by Texas State 63-61 in the first round in front of a sparse (to be kind) Lakefront Arena crowd.
“This game was the story of our season,” coach Ron Hunter, something he repeated again later in his post-Texas State press conference.
What went wrong? Here’s part three of a five-part series (with two more coming Monday):
No fast-break game
Because the team struggled with its play at point guard, its fast-break game also struggled. It took until the 18th conference game for the team to produce more fast-break points than its opponent in league play.
It matters because the lack of fast-break points added stress to a half-court offense that typically had problems creating high-percentage shots.
It was an odd thing to not see game after game because the team had solid fast-break play the previous three years with R.J. Hunter, Ryan Harrow and Devonta White.
The issue contributed to the team averaging just 65.7 points per game, among the lowest in Division I.
In Thursday’s loss to Texas State the Panthers had 15 fast-break points in the first half and just three in the second.
That’s the kind of problems and lack of production the team suffered from all season.