New Georgia State Panthers men's basketball coach Ron Hunter has been on the job exactly 22 days and has been asked the same basic set of questions over and over and over. We thought it would be a lot more interesting to ask him a few new ones by someone who knows the program front to back.
On Tuesday night, coach Ron Hunter headed back from a local TV appearance and was kind enough to join SB Nation Atlanta for an interview. Prior to speaking with us, he spoke with Comcast Sports Southeast's SportsNite and discussed his 2011-12 "barefoot game" against the Georgia Bulldogs and "good friend" Mark Fox.
He also called out the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and new coach Brian Gregory -- who is, incidentally, recruiting RJ Hunter, Coach Hunter's son for the 2012 recruiting cycle -- saying, "We will play them anytime, anywhere. We will play them in the playground, in a hotel. We will play them in a nursing home."
SB Nation Atlanta: Ok coach, I appreciate you joining me tonight, and I will start off by saying that I will not be asking you why you left IUPUI after 17 years.
Ron Hunter: [Erupts in laughter] It's okay. I understand why they ask it and it comes with the territory.
SB Nation Atlanta: Have you learned the lyrics to "Fight Panthers," the Georgia State fight song?
RH: You know, I haven't. I haven't found a locker room and I haven't learned the fight song yet. It's on the to-do list.
SB Nation Atlanta: I heard today that you will be throwing out the first pitch at the [Georgia State vs. Alabama State] baseball game tomorrow. How's your fastball?
RH: Ha! I actually played baseball in high school. I will do my best not to embarrass myself. I was hoping to get some warm up tosses in today but wasn't able to.
SB Nation Atlanta: By now, you've seen the film from last season and worked out with the returning players. What are your initial impressions from the film and the roster?
RH: I'm excited about the effort. They've accepted me. That's been the biggest surprise so far. When a new coach comes in, it can take some time for the players to buy in. They've bought in. I love the kids' attitude and effort. If you can start with effort then you have a chance. I think we have enough talent on this roster to win next year.
SB Nation Atlanta: You mentioned in a recent interview that [starting center] Eric Buckner was a very athletic big man but lacked confidence. How do you get him more consistent?
RH: You said it. It's starts with being consistent. I was in Houston [for the Final Four] and was talking to two NBA scouts down there. I told them about George Hill [who Hunter coached at IUPUI and was drafted in the first round in 2008] and I told them about Alex Young [who averaged 19.7 points per game in 2010-11 as a junior and will get serious NBA looks in the 2012 draft]. Eric Buckner is the most athletic big man I've ever coached. I told the scouts to go find me a more athletic big man that can do what he does at that size in the country. Because I haven't seen anyone better. He will fit really well in our offense. Eric has to believe in Eric. Before I can believe in him, he has to believe in his own abilities.
SB Nation Atlanta: Speaking of our current roster, who's the best cook? [Hunter has mentioned that he would spend time with each player and have them each cook him a meal.]
RH: I gave them some time. They are preparing for finals now and I'm giving them until this summer. I gave them seven of my favorite meals to cook and they get to choose.
SB Nation Atlanta: Around college basketball, more and more coaches are moving away from the traditional point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward and center. Describe a Ron Hunter type of player?
RH: This is really important. Many high majors won't take a tweener. These are the guys we want to recruit. Guys we want are six-foot-four to six-foot-seven. It all starts with a big-time point guard. I love the point guards on this roster. [Rising sophomore] Devonta [White] can be an all-conference player. [Rising senior] Boom [James Fields] is a very good player as well. I want guys who can play multiple positions. We will play so fast that we need guys who can play more than one position. We are going to win basketball games with these types of players.
SB Nation Atlanta: You've been known to do some out of the box things. What will be your game day attire?
RH: That's a good question. I haven't decided on that yet but I want to change everything that has been done here before. They had practice in the afternoon, we'll practice in the morning. We will stay at different hotels than we have on the road. We are changing from Adidas to Nike. The uniforms will be different. I don't care who you lost to last year. I want everyone focused on tomorrow, not yesterday.
SB Nation Atlanta: You are well known for your work with Samaritan's Feet. How did that relationship come about? Did they approach you? Did you approach them?
RH: It was presented to me. I saw the stats of 300 million children in the world who do not have shoes. More than 100,000 kids die because of diseases because they do not have shoes. It didn't hit me until I was in Lima, Peru. It changed my life. I actually took my team [at IUPUI]. We had guys on our team who thought they were poor. They realized that they were not poor.
Special thanks to Georgia State coach Ron Hunter for joining us.