Tuesday, December 24, 2013

season preview: Georgia Tech

Media prediction: 11th of 15

Last season:

Record: 16-15 (6-12); ACC 9th seed
Postseason: none
KenPom: 102nd of 347

Returning scoring: 76.9%
Returning rebounding: 80.2%
Returning assists: 63.7%

2012-2013 all-ACC:

1st team: none
2nd team: none
3rd team: none
HM: none
Defensive: C Daniel Miller
Rookie: none

(Italics indicate departed player.)

Starting lineup:

PG: Trae Golden (Sr.)
SG: Chris Bolden (So.)
SF: Marcus Georges-Hunt (So.)
PF: Robert Carter (So.)
C: Daniel Miller (5Sr.)


G Solomon Poole (So.)
F Kammeon Holsey (5Sr.)
G Stacey Poole (rJr.)
G Corey Heyward (rFr.)
F Quinton Stephens (Fr.)

Coach: Brian Gregory (3rd season)

ACC schedule:

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

On the surface, Georgia Tech ought to be an improved team over last year.  The media didn't see it that way, dropping them to an 11th-place predicted finish after their 9th seed last year (although, as before, with three new entrants all above this slot, dropping only two means they leapfrogged someone.)  Still, if truth be told, returning just about everyone and replacing your ineffective (and probably ACC-worst) point guard with a better one should be a recipe for some improvement.

Tennessee transfer Trae Golden should definitely represent a jump in play at point guard; he'll score more than Mfon Udofia did and so far is doing a better job of finding his teammates.  He's a crappy three-point shooter and always has been, but at least brings more of a scoring mentality to the point.

GT's scoring profile last year, though, was spread very evenly across the lineup; only wing Marcus Georges-Hunt topped 10 points a game, and that just barely.  Not a go-to man to be found in the bunch.  Golden might bring a little of that mentality, but otherwise things haven't changed; there are four players over 10 ppg at the moment, but the move into ACC play always brings numbers down, and there's a good chance the same dynamic will appear this year.

Brian Gregory's GT teams just have never been dangerous on offense, truth be told.  Center Daniel Miller is a superb defender, but his offense has taken some time to develop.  Now, as a senior, GT should probably run more offense through him as he's the only center on the roster and they don't have too many other options in the frontcourt.  Kammeon Holsey is consistent but not a star and Robert Carter isn't a great shooter yet and takes ill-advised threes.  (Carter, however, is an elite rebounder.)

At guard, GT might be well-advised to boot the awful-shooting Chris Bolden from the starting lineup in favor of Solomon Poole.  Poole is smaller and really more of a backup point guard at the moment but sees a few minutes at the two, and Bolden's shooting has been so bad this year that his O-rating is all the way down at 68.3; Poole, meanwhile, is the only real three-point threat on the team.  Solomon's brother Stacey Poole might also be an improvement, but he's not that talented of a player and better suited to bench minutes.

Expect GT to be solid defensively, but their offense?  Woof.  Golden can score but isn't at all suited to being the lead dog in that respect.  Miller is a fifth-year senior and has some moves, but this is basically a team of complementary scorers being asked to take primary roles.  Opposing teams will be happy to let them chuck threes, because they won't hit many, and teams that can beat them on the interior will beat them on the scoreboard.  GT rebounds well and defends well - they're a fairly big team overall and guys like Carter, Miller, and Holsey do very well in that area - but they'll have to put in that kind of effort for 40 minutes of every game because once they let up, good scoring teams will run away from them.  This isn't a tournament outfit; they could make the NIT if they play to their fullest potential but they missed out last year and will have to pull off a surprise or two over the course of the season to get there this year.

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