ATLANTA -- Ask any of the 384 Georgia State basketball fans what their favorite moments were this afternoon at the GSU Sports Arena for Hoop Day and their feelings about the upcoming seasons and you'll get a sense of the excitement.
For some, especially the young and young at heart, getting the autographs, meeting the players and talking one-on-one was great. For basketball purists who like shooting, the 2-ball competition showed some of the outside skills of the teams. Fot the dunk lovers, the men put on an exhibition that left the audience and their teammates in awe. For the season preview, the reason for optimism was evident in the level of play.
For the Panther Athletic Club members, hearing from the head coaches and getting the exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the locker rooms was a treat.
Coach Ron Hunter had some appropros quotes to sum it up.
"Honestly, I've been coaching for 27 years now and I have never, I mean never, seen a dunk contest like that one," Hunter said. "That had a wow factor to it and it deserved to be a three-way tie. LaRon Smith putting on the MIchael Jordan jersey, running the length of the floor and flying from the free throw line was impressive. Isaiah Dennis has so many dunks to impress you, but how about the one jumping over 6-foot-9 Curtis Washington? And, T.J. Shipes was spinning and pounding his down with authority."
"Yes, we're excited about the season because we are athletic, but now we've started to learn my system and know what we're supposed to be doing," he concluded.
As a start to the season, he was happy with the display. Now it's up to the team -- and fans -- to live up to the expectations.
"Hey, I want people to say this is the worst place to play in the Sun Belt," he stated. "I want it to be so full and so loud that teams hate to come here because they know they have a good chance of losing. It starts with the fans and we want to get this place full. That's still one of my goals."
Coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener was equally appreciative of the fans and excited about the upcoming season.
"Our fan support has grown every year and it really, really helps us win these home games," she said. "This event today was great and we appreciate everyone who found the time to come downtown and make the effort. This season is filled with potential, but that means we just have to get ready and go out and do it. Having the doubleheaders with the men will be great for the fans and great for the teams."
The scrimmages -- each with a 20-minute running clock -- featured the women's Blue team topping the White team 16-9 with guards Kendra Long and Alisha Andrews, coupled with center Brittany Logan, leading the way. The men's scrimmage seemed more like an NBA all-star game with a lot of alley oops and a lot of one-on-one dunks as the Blue team outraced the White team to a 50-47 win on the scoreboard. Fresh off their dunking exhibition, LaRon Smith led the White team with 16 points and T.J. Shipes topped the Blue squad with 12 points.
The regular seasons start Nov. 8 for the women and Nov. 9 for the men. The men's team also will plays a pre-Halloween exhibition game at the Sports Arena on Oct. 28, with fans and kids encouraged to come dressed in full costume for the Haunted Hoops event. Trick-or-treating for kids of all ages will happen during the first half on the concourses.
Check out today's photo album.