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ATLANTA—Following two weeks of practice, Georgia State will open the exhibition portion of the 2012-13 schedule on Monday night, facing Life University in the Sports Arena at 7 p.m. Head coach Ron Hunter will officially welcome nine newcomers to a team coming off a 22-win season.
The game can be heard live on WRAS-FM 88.5, with Dave Cohen, now in his 30th year as the voice of the Panthers, being joined by former Panther Rodney Turner. Live statistics are available at GeorgiaStateSports.com.
Monday’s contest will mark the first of two exhibitions as the Panthers prepare to open the regular season on Nov. 9 at Duke, a game that will be televised live on ESPNU at 7 p.m.
“I am looking forward to this first exhibition game,” commented Hunter. “We have had a couple of really good weeks of practices and several scrimmages against ourselves, but it is time to face some opposing competition.
“One of the things I am looking forward to seeing the most is how our newcomers interact in real-game situations. They have done nicely in practice adjusting to our system, but at the end of the day we must be able to take what we learn in practice and apply them to game situations.”
With so many newcomers, Hunter is expecting to play as many members of the team as possible. The projected starting line-up includes juniors Devonta White, Manny Atkins and Denny Burguillos, along with freshmen R.J. Hunter and Markus Crider.
“I really like the athleticism of our team,” continued Hunter. “We have several different types of experienced players that we can play, however, all of them have been winners and know how to win. At the end of the day, that can be as important as a trait a team can have.”
Devonta White returns after leading the team with a 12.9 points per game, finishing the season with a team-high 34.3 minutes played per contest. Two weeks ago, he earned All-CAA Preseason Second Team honors after standing among the top 15 in the CAA in a handful of categories.
Atkins, who transferred to Georgia State from Virginia Tech, redshirted the 2011-12 season due to NCAA transfer rules. In two seasons with the Hokies, Atkins played in 56 games, averaging 3.8 points in just 11.4 minutes per game.
Burguillos joins the Panthers after two seasons at Casper (Wyo.) College where he averaged 5.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and shot 43.6 percent from the floor.
“One of the keys to this season will be the leadership from our upperclassmen,” commented Hunter. “Each of them can be a leader in a different way and we will need that to reach our ultimate goals.”
Although lacking collegiate experience as true freshmen, R.J. Hunter and Markus Crider have plenty of experience and knowledge of the game. R.J., the lone son of coach Ron Hunter, led his Pike (Ind.) High School to the state championship game last season. Crider played last season at Bridgton (Maine) Academy, a prep school, averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per game.
With 16 players on the team this year, Hunter will have plenty of options coming off the bench.
“We have a lot of depth on this team,” continued Hunter. “However, the players know that I am only going to play eight or nine guys per game. It is their job to figure out who the guys are going to be that get playing time.”
Life Univeristy, a NAIA program located in nearby Marietta, is led by John Barrett. The Runnin’ Eagles went 19-15 last season.
The two teams have met just once before, with Georgia State earning a 128-79 exhibition victory on Nov. 12, 2001.
The match-up with Life will be the first of two exhibition games for Georgia State. The Panthers will face Albany State on Nov. 4, at 6 p.m. in the Sports Arena.
Both season and individual game tickets for the 2012-13 season are now on sale. A variety of packages can be found by visiting GeorgiaStateSports.com or by calling 1-866-GA-STATE.