Continuing the five-part series on what went wrong for Georgia State’s basketball season, which ended with a 63-61 loss to Texas State in the first round of the Sun Belt basketball tournament last week in New Orleans.
Georgia State was trying to make it back to the NCAA tournament without R.J. Hunter and Ryan Harrow.
Now, part IV: No post player.
Georgia State coach Ron Hunter has always had a back-to-the-basket past player since he took over the program before the 2011-12 season. From Eric Buckner to James Vincent to Curtis Washington, there was a player on offense who could sit in the post and allow the myriad outside shooters to play off him, or at least present a threat to score when he was given the ball. That was missing, and missed, this season.
Instead of one in, four out, the Panthers typically were forced to play with five out, other than when they were running screens low. This typically allowed the opponents to play with five men between all of Georgia State’s players and the basket. All those bodies made it that much harder for any Georgia State player to drive to the basket, force the defenders to move even closer to the basket, and then pass it to either the post player or outside to a shooter.
It also made it harder to have a go-to player to try to get a field goal or get to the free-throw line with a higher-percentage shot during one of the long scoring droughts that affected team in most games this season, including in the loss to Texas State.
When the Panthers were most effective on offense such as in the 13-point win over Appalachian State came when forwards T.J. Shipes or Markus Crider could get inside and play off screens or penetration by the guards.
Georgia State was still able to get point in the free-throw lane, but few were easy and no third-scorer was established until Isaiah Williams late in the season to take pressure off Jeremy Hollowell and Kevin Ware.