Tuesday, December 20, 2011

season preview: Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Media prediction: 10th

Last season:

Record: 13-18 (5-11) - ACC 11th seed
Postseason: none
KenPom: 89th of 345

Returning scoring: 51.6%
Returning assists: 41.2%
Returning rebounding: 55.2%

2010-11 All-ACC:

1st team: none
2nd team: F Iman Shumpert
3rd team: none
HM: none
Rookie: none
Defensive: F Iman Shumpert

(italics indicate departed player.)

Starting lineup:

PG: Mfon Udofia (Jr.)
SG: Glen Rice, Jr. (Jr.)
G: Brandon Reed (So.)
F: Kammeon Holsey (So.)
C: Daniel Miller (So.)


G Jason Morris (So.)
G Nick Foreman (Sr.)
F Julian Royal (Fr.)
C Nate Hicks (So.)

Coach: Brian Gregory (1st season)

ACC schedule:

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

Paul Hewitt spent so long on the hot seat at Georgia Tech that it was paradoxically a surprise that he was ever fired; I think I just got to the point where I assumed he never would be.  Or maybe it was more like Kim Jong-Il.  You knew that old bastard would die eventually; it's still surprising when he does.  (Current events, boys and girls.  That's how SNL always stays so timelessly hilarious, amirite?)

Like a lot of the ACC, Georgia Tech has already had some ugly games, but as the Jackets are only 12 games into the Brian Gregory era, the early returns actually seem encouraging.  GT had to replace do-everything forward Iman Shumpert, who ended up in the NBA draft just shy of being a lottery pick.  Shumpert kept the Jackets from being completely horrible last year.  This year the difference is Gregory.

Last year, GT was a completely horrible three-point shooting team and they've gotten worse this year.  Glen Rice, Jr. doesn't seem to have the touch his dad had for Michigan; his freshman year was pretty good in limited time, but once he became a go-to shooter he's been shooting at barely a 30% clip.  But he's hitting on better than 50% of his two-pointers, a number usually only seen from a big frontcourt guy.  Nobody else shoots threes either; Tech's offense is inefficient but at least balanced.  Any of the five starters, plus Jason Morris who has also started half of Tech's games, can put the ball in the hoop.  It's never a bad thing to have a big scoring center, which in GT's case is Daniel Miller.  Miller is a load; a 6'11" middleman who averages 9.3 points, 7.6 boards, and 3 blocks.  He and Rice are GT's two irreplaceable players.

Also a solid scorer is Kammeon Holsey, who's hitting a crazy .681 shooting percentage; Holsey also has a bit of a turnover issue, however.  On the traditional stat sheet, point guard Mfon Udofia looks like Holsey's equal in the scoring department, but the truth is Udofia is barely ACC-level.  He needs a lot of shots to get those 10.9 PPG (only Rice takes more shots per game), he is a truly horrible three-point shooter, and his A/T ratio is below one.  Point guard play is the biggest weakness the Jackets have.

The second-biggest is lack of depth.  The aforementioned six primary scorers are also basically the only scorers.  Nobody else has more than 2.6 PPG. That's Nick Foreman's average, and it's likely he's somewhat underused as the only senior who's really in the rotation.  Everyone else is pretty much just eating minutes.  When Daniel Miller is out of the game, GT turns to Nate Hicks, but he's 6'10" and only 218 pounds.

Still, for all their flaws, GT has been competitive this year.  They defend and rebound quite well; one of the better rebounding teams in the nation, and Miller alone puts them into the top ten nationwide in blocked-shot percentage.  There have been ugly losses - Tulane and a blowout by Northwestern come to mind.  But the Jackets also upset VCU.  Playing up-and-down ball is a hallmark of newly-minted coaching regimes, of course, but the earlier you're up-and-down (instead of just plain ol' down) the earlier you're up.  Miller is a weapon that every ACC team will have to account for, and though at their very best they're a middling team in a down ACC, their record could surprise.  GT has by far the most ridiculously easy schedule in the conference, hitting UNC, Duke, FSU, UVA, and VT just once each.  They could find six wins from just playing BC, Maryland, and Wake twice each, which would be a one-game improvement over last year.  Getting to 8-8 against this slate is insanely doable, which could get the Jackets to the NIT at least a year ahead of schedule.


So last night's game was bizarre if only because the announcers couldn't tell the difference between Davy Jones and John Paul Jones, nor between Malcolm Brogdon and Doug Browman.  That was the game, though; the aftermath became certainly one of the more interesting stories to date in the college hoops year when someone decided to hack the Oregon official website and insert a few quotes of his own into Ducks' coach Dana Altman's postgame remarks.  Here is a screenshot of the phony quotes.

All I can say is: am very disappoint.  You use your nefarious hacking skills to break into the official website and the best you got is "the spaghetti was overcooked" and a very mildly disparaging remark about Mike Scott??  OK, maybe you're hoping they won't notice, but guess what, they will regardless of what you put down.  That was your big chance to put "my tiny little nipples went to France" like Jim Carrey on Steve Carell, or "UVA wears women's panties" or "Fuck this I quit" or a litany of Hungarian swear words or the Gettysburg Address or ANY FLIPPING THING AT ALL and that's the best you can do?  Either the weed in Eugene is of very low quality this year or CS majors at Oregon have the sense of humor of an earthworm.  What a waste.  Here's a PSA - anyone who's thinking of hacking a website to put up some phony coach quotes, call me, OK?  Before you start making the Napoleon Dynamite animated series look like George Carlin by comparison?

Anyway, this could be a solid win when all's said and done.  Oregon's no great shakes, but the Pac-12 is teetering on the edge of mid-majordom thanks to the addition of two shitty basketball teams, and the Ducks have a chance to have a decent-looking win-loss record.  A road win is always a good thing.  The win propelled UVA into the #24 ranking in the AP poll - very cool if totally meaningless - and to the 19th ranking in the nation in the KenPom numbers.  Exciting stuff.  The Hoos visit Cameron on January 12, and the in-between looks like this:

- Revenge match against Seattle
- Two of the worst-ass teams in the country (334th and 343rd of 345, KenPomwise)
- Another road test against LSU
- The ACC opener against Miami

It's highly possible we see the OOC schedule end at 13-1, and perhaps even get to 14-1 in preparation for the Duke game.  That would likely get us into the top 20 in both rankings and very possibly put Dick Vitale in the house.  Let's face it: every announcer slobs the knob when they're calling a Duke game, so it might as well be the one that tells the nation this is the game they should care about most on that evening.

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