Every team has an identity, a DNA make up that sets them apart from everyone else. Mental preparation is a corner stone in every championship locker room, it’s the “it factor”, the end all be all and the mysticism of every great program. Not to forget, the epitome of accountability, discipline and the elusive clutch moment in sports.
If you take an in-depth look at any stable of polarizing championship programs at some point, you will hear the words mental toughness and see preparation silently driving the chisel that is etching the name on a monumental trophy across any platform of sports.
It’s the unannounced ammunition that drives teams to the top. The basis for physical training, practice, meetings and early morning wake up times.
The Georgia State Panther’s head coach Ron Hunter gave an insight in regards to mental preparation after their 54-50 victory over conference foe Texas State Bobcats and how that coaching style has tied into the team’s success this season.
“I love the mental make up of this team. We understand that coming into today’s game was going to be a tough defensive grind,” states Hunter.
Georgia State Panthers displayed those qualities in their inter-conference play with Texas State, which was a very gritty game with twenty one fouls called, proving to be very tough on defense.
The defense of the Panthers proved to be too much for the Bobcats. The blueprint for success was revealed and executed. The Panthers extended their win streak to 7-0 and improved to 16-6 overall, 7-2 in the Sun Belt Conference.
“You go back a few years ago, we won the [Sun Belt] Championship because we were good defensively,” states Hunter. “The best defensive teams are capable of winning a championship and we understand that in the [Sun Belt]Conference Championship, you have to be good for three straight days.”
The defensive play was ushered in by Jordan Sessions 11 rebounds, three blocks and two steals, who proved to have a very demanding presence on the court.
Jeff Thomas who also had 14 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and a steal also made his presence felt on the defensive end.
Georgia State caged the Bobcats by holding them under 40% from the field and twelve percent from beyond the arc.
The Panthers defense showed tremendous hustle by attacking the glass. Their 2-3 zone was a picture perfect example of how defense should be played.
They stifled the Bobcats’ offense by communication on defense, cutting off passing lanes and providing defensive help.
D’Marcus Simonds showed great poise by letting the game come to himself, taking advantage of the Bobcats by attacking off the dribble and being able to drive away from the help defense.
Simonds closed the game out with clutch play in the second half, by seizing the moment with a high difficulty layup at the rim by finishing with his left hand. The Panthers were able to take the lead in the second half and made important free throws to close out the game.
“I love the mental make up of this team because we know that we can play three straight days if we need to and get the job done. We know that only one team in the Sun Belt can go to the NCAA Tournament and our goal is to let it be the best defensive team,” stated Hunter.
The Panthers’ next opponent will be the Arkansas State Red Wolves.