Tuesday, February 22, 2011
game preview: Georgia Tech
Date/Time: February 22; 7:00
History against the Jackets: 32-38
Last matchup: UVA 72, GT 64; 1/22/11; Charlottesville
Last game: UVA 61, VT 54 (2/19); Duke 79, GT 57 (2/20)
Opposing blogs: From The Rumble Seat
National: UVA #113; GT #96
Offense: UVA #152; GT #164
Defense: UVA #86; GT #54
Time to try for sweep #2. By virtue of being a road game in a tough place to play, this could be the toughest game of the next three. Well, theoretically a tough place. As we'll see in the customary FTRS Q&A, there may not be much of an audience. As per standard practice, click over to FTRS to see the other half (when it's posted) (which is now.)
1. GT's remaining schedule is a who's-who of crappy ACC bottom-feeders. Any hope among the masses - or on the team itself - that something can be made of the rest of the season?
Masses? What you talking about masses?! The coliseum hasn't been breaking any attendance records this year. The mentality around the fanbase is glum. I would say no one wants us to win because of the fear that Hewitt will solidify more of an argument to stay!
Players - Well, Iman Shumpert brings his game. He leads in scoring most nights, followed quickly by Glen Rice Jr. After that, who knows.
Paul Hewitt - Well, when you stare hypno-face in the eyes**, it used to be believable (see 2003-04/2004-05 seasons). But now we all fear it's backfiring on itself. Pretty soon, Hewitt will stare at himself in the mirror and say "I feel we are almost there! We play hard!" and then explode into flames.
2. That game against Duke was kinda chippy for a while, and so was the previous UVA-GT game. Think we'll see more of the same?
Losing leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads its way to suffering.
3. What's the biggest problem with this year's GT squad? Is it Hewitt, or is there a major on-court weakness that teams are exploiting?
On paper, Paul Hewitt can flat out recruit. He is known for his ability to reel in top prospects and he is very proud of the fact. Unfortunately it has not turned into results on the GT court. In the past 10 years what has been the most consistent subject in seasons of inconsistencies? I think you know the answer.
4. What's the long-term outlook for GT basketball? Next year, 2-3 years down the road, etc.
It's too hard to look that far ahead team-wise. Department wise, we are upgrading the AMC and turning the basketball complex into a state-of-the-art facility. All while paying a coach a continuious 5 year contract worth millions of dollars. Next year the Yellow Jackets will play mainly in the Gwinnet Arena (approximately 30 minutes away) with a few games at Philips Arena, the home of the Atlanta Hawks. In 2012-2013, we should be on schedule for a brand new facility. But with the same coach? Only one man knows the answer to that question...Dan Radakovich.
**Hmmm. Not feelin' it. Truly, the magic is gone. I wonder if this is why nobody on GT can hit a jump shot.
HOW WE CAN WIN
- Pack it in. Yes, I said this last time. It worked, why switch it up now? Georgia Tech still couldn't hit a three-pointer if their grandma's lives depended on it. This is another matchup game that favors UVA; Bennett's pack-line defense thrives on taking a team exactly like GT out of its plan. GT wants to drive the rim. The pack-line, if played correctly, makes that close to impossible. GT will have to hit from outside if it wants to win, and may I remind you that their best threat to do so is shooting .320? They are miserable from back there.
- Make free throws. Yup, another repeat. The Jackets are the fouliest team in the conference with a whopping 21 per game, and even if you bring it down to UVA's snail's pace, it works out to 18. Last game, UVA shot 32 free throws and made 22. Getting to the line is probably a given, so we must capitalize.
- Get Sene involved. This should open up the three-point lanes for easy shooting. GT is not only awful at shooting three-pointers, they're awful at defending them, and they should be even awful-er if they feel like they need to do something about the open looks that seven-footer keeps getting down there. Last time out, Sene had one of those outstanding games that didn't look like anything in the box score but made his presence felt with a meanness on the court, and our three-point shooting was mind-blowing. There's a connection.
HOW WE CAN LOSE
- Get too dribbly. Iman Shumpert averages 2.6 steals per game, and GT is fifth in the nation at creating steals. VT almost worked its way back into the game on Saturday by pressing and causing our guards to make really poor decisions with the ball that mostly involved dribbling straight into trouble. GT has even more potential to create a disaster this way. Sloppiness cannot be tolerated.
- Letdown factor. Our players' quotes after the game showed they really were up for beating Virginia Tech. There are two ways you can go after that; you can relax and call it mission accomplished, or you can decide you enjoy the taste of victory and want more. Tech is teetering on the brink of not caring, and the arena won't be all that hostile especially if UVA can jump out to a lead. It's an opportunity lost if the team comes out flat.
HOW THE GAME WILL GO
FTRS's prediction about the crowds at Alexander Memorial Coliseum gives me happiness. GT can be a tough venue, but a check of attendance figures lately backs up the graveyard portrayal. Just 5,900 is the figure for their game against FSU two weeks ago - just less than two-thirds full if every one of those seats were full, which they surely weren't. UVA has had its usual tough time on the road - even Wake Forest turned into a house of horrors - but this is a fanbase staring down a tunnel without much light at the end.
And Georgia Tech is eminently beatable. Just about everyone's done it. I think my characterization of the Jackets from a few weeks ago in the last game preview holds true - they can take advantage of bad basketball (which we are certainly capable of) but if you play reasonably well, up to your level of play, you'll win. Take nothing for granted on the road, but I like the outlook.
Promised a recruiting board update and you'll get one.....tomorrow. (By that I mean today, but later today when it's really today and not late night yesterday.) The good news I referred to, you can have that, though: Just as with last year, Mike London's first commitment in the class of 2012 comes from Green Run in Virginia Beach. That was David Dean; this is his teammate, Mark Hall. Hall committed hours after getting his offer. He's an outside linebacker, and very preliminarily rated the #15 prospect in Virginia by Rivals. That should make him a very solid three-star in the low-5.7, high 5.6 range on their rating scale; for reference, the #14-#16 prospects in 2011 were Jay Whitmire, Lafonte Thourogood, and Rob Burns, all very heavily recruited players. Hall is an excellent kickoff to the 2012 recruiting season.