Head Men's Basketball Coach – Pratt Cannoneers
This time of March is spectacular and although there are no mid-majors still dancing, upset fever is still in the air (thanks Syracuse!).
There certainly will be a number of memorable games and moments from this year’s tournament, but it’s hard to imagine any of them will capture the same type of miraculousness, raw joy and pure hilarity of Georgia State head coach Ron Hunter falling off his stool as his Panthers upset Baylor on a 30-foot shot by his son RJ.
I had always enjoyed watching Ron Hunter’s teams play (his last season at IUPUI ended Tom Pecora’s Hofstra tenure when I was a sophomore in college) and his Georgia State teams matched up in the CAA with Hofstra through 2013 (my year as a GA) before departing for the Sun Belt.
His calling card for many years (in my mind at least) was a stifling defense that often featured a tricky 1-3-1 zone manned with great length. While the defense did not fade, the outside focus went to the Panthers’ offense, specifically his son and current Boston Celtic RJ Hunter. Hunter (the coach) had to figure out ways to get Hunter (the player) the best possible looks – and Senior drew them up well. RJ averaged 19.7 points per game on his way to the Sun Belt Player of the Year Award and an AP Honorable Mention All-American nod.
Last spring I took a look at some of the actions Georgia State ran (many of which featured RJ Hunter). When you have a dynamic scorer like Hunter, often times little advantages are all you need and you can see that just a sliver of space in the Panthers’ offense was often enough to let the future-NBA player score.
I happen to be quite partial to set packages like the one Georgia State ran out of their double-high ball screen alignment. I like the way that it can evolve into numerous actions, but is difficult to scout because all the different actions start in the same formation.