Georgia State men’s basketball coach Ron Hunter took a few minutes on Thursday to recap his team’s summer workouts.
The Panthers went 16-14 last season, 9-11 in the Sun Belt Conference.
The team lost Kevin Ware, T.J. Shipes and Markus Crider, while adding Willie Clayton, Devin Mitchell, D’Marcus Simonds and Chris Clerkley.
The squad returns leading scorer Jeremy Hollowell, as well as Jeff Thomas, Malik Benlevi, Austin Donaldson, Isaiah Williams and Isaiah Dennis, among others.
This is part one. I’ll post part two on Friday. Hunter’s answers have been paraphrased in most instances.
Q: What were your goals for the team during summer workouts?
A: Really our goals were to improve two things we struggled with last year:
Transition offense and to get better a understanding on defense.
We have so many guys back. I wanted to get better where everyone understood what we’re doing defensively.
In our great years we were great in transition and we weren’t last year.
Q: Did you accomplish them?
A: We did.
With the experience coming back and talent coming in really helped.
The new guys are finishers. We’ve got guys who can finish, got guys who can shoot. (D’Marcus) Simonds can shoot. He’s a tremendous basketball player. He really finishes on the break.
Reminds me of teams from a couple of years ago where defense leads to baskets. That’s what we’ve got back to.
Q: Now that you’ve had some time to look back on last season, what happened?
A: Couple of things: Eight of the 10 guys hadn’t played in our systems before. Seven of 11 guys (this year) will have played in our system before.
When you look back at last summer, with my injuries and other things, I didn’t spend as much time with the group.
This and not being able to coach.
Q: I remember asking about that during the season, but you didn’t think it affected the team.
A: This summer I had to do all the coaching because I have a new staff.
Got me back into the basis of what we wanted to do. Guys got to hear my voice and not the assistant’s voices. They did a good job, but during games the players hear me.
Q: Any possible solutions at point guard, which was another problem last year?
A: I think that experience is going to help. Last year we had no experience back. This year, we have three guys who have major experience playing at that position.
And a fourth guy who hasn’t played in it yet.
We have talent and we have experience at the position.
Q: How have the transfers looked?
A: They’re good.
Great thing, last year we needed transfers to be ready right away. Jeremy (Hollowell) didn’t practice the year before because of his back. That hurt us.
We don’t need them to be great, just need them to be good. We’ve got guys who can come in and do something.
And the hungry guys, Willie (Clayton) and Devin (Mitchell), add all those things together. Last year we were looking around – who is going to replace this? – this year we know where shots are coming from, who is going to take them and what guys are going to do.
*****I’ll post Part 2 on Friday*****