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Season Preview: Georgia State Panthers

October 2, 2011

Eric Buckner

2010-11 Record: (12-19, 6-12, 9th in CAA)

What happened last season: Transfer power forward Eric Buckner emerged as the team’s best player, but the defensive-minded Panthers were their typical selves, winning just 12 games for the third straight season.

What’s Changed: Coach Rod Barnes, who never exceeded a dozen victories in any of his four years at GSU, was let go just before the CAA tournament (he’s now at Cal State Bakersfield). The school replaced Barnes with Ron Hunter, a highly-respected leader who used an up-tempo style to win 293 games in 17 seasons at IUPUI.

Key Team Stat: (0) Players who averaged 10 or more points per game last season. The Panthers were the only team in the conference without a double-digit scorer, and even the only team to not return one this season.

Key Player Stat: (65.9) Buckner’s field goal percentage in wins – the highest total of any CAA regular. He made 47.2 percent of his shots in losses.

Who’s Vince: No one, really. But the cats will be in good shape if Buckner decides to be. In his first Division I season after two years at Gulf Coast C.C., the 6-foot-10, 210-pound athlete was woefully inconsistent but showed flashes of star power. He scored 23 points (on 10-of-11 shooting) at the end of non-conference play, and then posted a season-high 28 against VCU once the CAA schedule began in earnest. Those performances were both part of a season-high three-game win streak for GSU. Buckner only notched dub-figs in five of his next 17 games.

Who’s E: Could be Brandon McGee, an Indiana transfer who dropped 31 in a win against Northeastern on Feb. 12 and then scored 23 points the rest of the season (six games total). Or maybe Jihad Ali, who, like McGee, averaged just over seven points per game but without the Kilimanjaro peaks and valleys (although JMU fans remember him for a specific peak – a last-second put-back game-winner).

The Entourage: Georgia State was certainly balanced last year – nine players averaged five-plus ppg. Hunter likes to run, so he might keep a long rotation. The above guys will certainly contribute, as will Jordan DeMercy, a Florida State transfer who becomes eligible this season. Another year in the program will do talented sophomore guard Devonta White good. Don’t be surprised if Tony Kimbro Jr., a late signing by Hunter, is a considerable factor on the wing. Junior center James Vincent is one of the biggest players in the league at 6-10, 267 pounds.

Realistic Goal: Finish around .500 in conference and use that athleticism to wreak some havoc in the CAA tournament.

Postseason tournament chances: Not likely

DN-R Prediction: 7th in the CAA

One Comment leave one →
  1. Mike permalink
    October 9, 2011 2:59 pm

    I keep reading about this uptempo style from the IUPUI coach, and then I check out their game logs. Last year they were 319th slowest team in the country tempo wise, 227th year before, 312th in 2009, 314th in 2008, 280th in 2007, 312th in 2006, 294th in 2005 and on and on.

    Anything will be more uptempo then Barnes but is this new coach truly uptempo? Or is everyone missing the fact they just had good offensive and bad defensive teams in the Summit?

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