Sunday, January 2, 2011

season preview: Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Media prediction: 9th

Last season:

Record: 23-13 (7-9); 7th in ACC
Postseason: NCAA 10 seed; lost in second round
KenPom: 27th of 347

Returning scoring: 50.1%
Returning rebounding: 35.5%
Returning assists: 57.1%

2009-'10 All-ACC:

1st team: none
2nd team: none
3rd team: F Gani Lawal
Rookie: F Derrick Favors
Defensive: none


G: Iman Shumpert (Jr.)
G: Mfon Udofia (So.)
G: Glen Rice, Jr. (So.)
F: Brian Oliver (So.)
C: Daniel Miller (rFr.)


G Maurice Miller (Sr.)
G Jason Morris (Fr.)
F Kammeon Holsey (rFr.)

Coach: Paul Hewitt (11th season)


Once: Boston College (A), Duke (A), Florida State (H), Maryland (H), North Carolina (H), NC State (A)
Twice: Clemson, Miami, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

Want to watch the end of an era (ok, kind of a mini-era) as it unfolds, instead of looking back and wondering what happened? Watch Georgia Tech this season. Wake Forest will probably have a worse season when all's said and done, but they have a new coach, not one hanging on by a fingernail. Paul Hewitt once took the Jackets to the NCAA Final, but his '08-'09 season was disastrous and this one has a chance to be worse. As I write this they're in the throes of an overtime struggle against Charlotte, which they'll probably have lost by the time I type the final word on this preview.

It starts with the makeup of the roster, which lists two centers, two forwards, and eleven guards. Georgia Tech lost Gani Lawal and prized freshman Derrick Favors - both large, powerful frontcourt types - to the NBA draft, and Hewitt responded by signing a single guard for the 2010 recruiting class. The team is led by Iman Shumpert, a very talented player who in an ideal world would have teammates feeding him the ball, not the other way around. Shumpert can score in buckets but he's an iffy creator, at best. Tech also gets reliable scoring from Glen Rice, Jr. and Brian Oliver, but Oliver is the only consistent frontcourt contributor in that department. Center Daniel Miller is mainly a big body in the middle for rebounding and defense.

Despite the hideous lack of frontcourt depth, GT does a surprisingly decent job of rebounding, as their guards (especially Shumpert) are able to chip in on the boards. That's the good news; the bad news is that GT, especially for such a guard-heavy team, is abysmal from beyond the arc. Oliver - the forward - is the best option they have here, and he's barely north of .300. Shumpert takes the next-most threes on the team and he's three misses away from dropping south of the Mendoza Line.

The saving grace for GT is a very favorable schedule, with most of the ACC's better teams appearing only once. That should keep them out of the cellar - that, and the fact that Wake Forest is so bad. And they played surprisingly well against Syracuse, losing by just four. But the Jackets have yet to beat a BCS-conference team, and have a lot more bad losses (Siena, a terrible blowout loss to Kennesaw State, and yes, Charlotte) than good wins (Richmond) already. This team will have a losing record well before the end of January and stay that way the rest of the season. And it'll almost certainly be Hewitt's last.

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