Images via Georgia State Official Basketball site.
The Panthers had a huge run last year. Surprising most, with just a win away from a berth to the NCAA Tournament. They improved this year with returning core plus more. With the addition of former Louisville guard Kevin Ware, coach Ron Hunter looks to push for that conference championship in the post-season. The team is feeling very excited about the season. They have been talked about during the pre-season by national experts and commentators. They are not overwhelmed by this, they are humble and ready to prove themselves. As the season approaches Friday, I got a chance to catch up with some of the top players for this Panthers squad: Ryan Harrow, RJ Hunter, and Kevin Ware. Here is the interview.
Q: How do you feel about this upcoming season after being so close las year? As a team how do you feel you all improved?
A: Well, I definitely want to redeem myself from last year because we were so close. I think that we are able to do even better things this year. I think the team is improving/working really hard on our defense, we know that we are able to score with players like RJ Hunter, Kevin Ware, and myself. So, we feel like we can score, but we are really concerned about defense and making sure that we are able to stop people.
Q: What does coach expect from you coming back this year?
A: Me and coach had a talk and we both want me to be more of a vocal leader. I feel like I led last year by just the way I played, but I’m a senior. So, I need to be more vocal and just lead by example and make sure everybody is playing to the best of their ability.
Q: How do you like being able to play in your hometown again? How do you think it will impact you?
A: I kind of feel like it will impact me in a positive way. Kind of feel like it’s almost like a home court advantage being that I am from here and I have a bunch of people cheering me on. I kind of feel like a lot of guys that are from here feel like that it is in my advantage. I love being home again, playing home, kind of feel like I did great in high school, so hopefully it goes same as high school.
Q:What do you think about your new team? How did the guys take you as a new teammate?
A: This is a great team, you know? Coming from Louisville, Georgia State is a winning program. It’s not like I am coming to a program that is struggling or anything like that. All the guys are taking me in well. All of them are really close, not just me and Ryan, but everybody on the team is really close.
Q: How do you feel Kevin will benefit this team this year with his addition?
A: Kevin’s just going to open the floor up for us. He’s going to get a lot of steals, so he’ll push the pace up for us. And he gets to the basket with ease. Those two things and his combinations of just getting to the rack and dishing the ball I think he’s going to open the floor up for us.
Q: Where do you all expect to finish this year in the conference?
A: Uhh, first. I think we’ll have a better year than last year non-conference and and conference wise. I’m really excited and I think everybody’s more locked in then ever. That’s a good thing!
I asked every one a collective question.
Q: What is it like to have national experts and commentators talk about you all in the preseason?
A: (Ryan) It’s great to hear them talking about us. I try not to listen to it as much. So I can stay level headed and just prepare for this season. It’s great being at Georgia State and all these people are talking about us and all these expectations, but we got to make sure as a team that we reach those goals.
(Kevin): It’s good, gets these guys on the radar, it’s just not about me. I have never been the type of person to ever just care about me. RJ Hunter, Ryan, Curt, and all of those guys out there and their names out that’s big for the whole program. When they see those guys they see everybody. I kind of feel like as long as we are winning the more exposure and more spot light we will get.
(RJ): All of that’s cool, but that to me means nothing. You know, all that preseason stuff, it’s all good, but what does it mean? What substance does it hold? I would rather have all these accolades in about four months, so it’s all good, the attention, but we still have to take care of business.
The team is ready play as you can see. They take on Tennessee Temple Friday at home starting at 7:00 PM.