The Georgia State Panthers: Long Rangers

Ab Stanley

The three point shot in basketball has evolved. Much like the center position, the three point shot has a new look and a new feel. Long gone are the days of coaches calling it a bad percentage shot, a bad shot to take, a shot that’s ok if your wide open.

Today’s long range shot is now the sexy shot. The” how cool can I look bombing a three in somebody’s face” shot. These are shost coaches plan and draw up plays for. Georgia State Panthers head coach Ron Hunter has no problem drawing up plays where it’s three and out.

In the press confrence after their January 6th win over Arkansas State here’s some of what coach Hunter had to say. “You know at some point you are what we are. When you look at Jeff [Thomas], you look at Devin [Mitchell], [Isiah Williams] Zeke and you look at Malik [Benlevi], that’s what they are. You know they’re three point shooters,”  stated Hunter. “We are what we are, were a three point shooting team with one of the best one-on-one drivers in the country in D’Marcus [Simonds].

Those words couldn’t be more accurate. The Panthers can let it loose from deep. They are built like a spread offense in football. “Let’s hit the outside shots and the inside shots will loosen up” is there mentality. Georgia State is ranked No. 1 versus all Sunbelt Conference opponents with a .397 three point field goal percentage (.386 overall).

Most drives results in kick out shots for long range chances. When the deep shots are hitting, it opens up closer shots. It’s a good philosophy to have especially when you have such good shooters.

Devin Mitchell’s .430 deep range shooting percentage leads the Sunbelt. Thomas and Benlevi are both in the top 13 in makes from that area. With those guys on the same team, it’s really hard to key in on one and send help defense.

Funny enough they’re also first in free throw attempts. How can this be possible? Listening to coach Hunter, it’s pretty evident how they have one of the best drivers in the nation.

Simonds leads the Sunbelt in scoring with 21.0 points per game. He also leads the Panthers in assists and steals and is the second leading rebounder.

Opposing defenses would be wise to try and stop him every game, which is easier said than done. With the myriad of bombers from deep, it’s almost impossible to have a single game plan.

Take the Panthers’ game versus their Sunbelt rival Georgia Southern Eagles, Simonds met a double-team every time he tried driving to the basket early in the game. He was shooting an abysmal 3-10 for nine points at the halfway point.

He did have five assists as the Panthers kept the game close at 38-37 with the team adding six three-pointers. In the second half, more of the same took place as the three-point shots went down.

Simonds was able to make his way to the basket with a plethora of moves including back-to-back dunks that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Jeff Thomas would go 4-4 from downtown in the second half (5-5 in the game) and the team finished 13-27 from beyond the arc. The Eagles couldn’t stop the inside driving of Simmonds combined with the outside shooting of his teammates.

The formula is in tact and the team follows the gameplan to a tee. With its “spread offense”, the Panthers pose a real threat to the entire Sunbelt Confrence and the rest of the NCAA.

Team Notes:
Isaiah Williams surpassed 1,000 points with his 16 points versus Georgia southern. It was the senior’s 100th game.

The Panthers next game is against the Texas State Bobcats. They are 5-4 in the Sunbelt and 13-8 overall.

Ab Stanley

Atlanta, GA

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