Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Podcast - The Birddog

This is the first in what will hopefully be a series of podcasts with fellow bloggers, people in the sports media and other "characters of interest" if you will covering Georgia Tech sports specifically, and college sports in general.

Today is the first of these, and the guest is Mike from The Birddog - a Navy blog that many GT fans are already familiar with thanks to his excellent breakdowns of the "option based spread" offense and the history of Paul Johnson and modern option football. There isn't anyone you can find who's doing better work with regards to covering option football anywhere. He was gracious enough to spend nearly an hour with me discussing some history of the offense, specifics with regards to the play by play execution and a bunch of topics related to the option based spread, Paul Johnson and GT football.

edit - technical issues with hosting the podcast should be resolved now

Click here for MP3 file
Click here to subscribe to the podcast RSS feed

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Monday, August 10, 2009

New Basketball Assistant Coach

So, it's started to leak out that the new assistant coach to replace Charlton Young will be former GT guard and current ECU assistant coach Darryl Labarrie. This hasn't been officially confirmed by the GTAA, but I expect the announcment will be made any day now.

Darryl is considered to be a very promising rising star in the coaching community and Labarrie has strong ties to the Atlanta AAU scene and is an excellent recruiter. Since Young was the primary recruiter, especially for the key Atlanta area, Labarrie should slide in and take over many of those responsibilities immediately. I'm excited to see a GT guy do well, and Labarrie certainly has a strong resume already for a young coach.

This hire probably won't go over well with many who are frustrated with the current state of the program, and who would like to see another older experienced voice on the bench. In fact, I expect this hire to create quite a bit of negative backlash in certain parts of the GT fanbase. This hire wasn't for that though, this hire was to replace Coach Young, and to fill the hole of head recruiter and find someone with strong ties to the Atlanta Celtics and other AAU programs in the southeast. Under that list of requirements, Labarrie is probably the best hire that could have possibly been made - he's young, he has a history with GT, he's known as being a very hard worker and he's a terrific recruiter.

Much like a roster of players, a roster of coaches is built to meet a broad range of challenges and with skillsets that compliment each other. Just as a team of a dozen centers would be deficient in ball handling and outside shooting, a roster of coaches that all have the same strengths can be deficient in other areas. Labarrie seems from the outside to be yet another young coach known for being a strong recruiter, which is a very important skillset in college basketball, and he fits a the hole left by Coach Young.

If there's to be a critique of the current staff for a lack of experience or gravitas on the bench, it should be a critique of the members of the staff who are in those roles right now. Both coaches O'Connor and Zaharis are long time career assistant coaches with a depth of experience outside of GT's program and should have those roles covered. The role that Coach Young had was empty when he left for Georgia Southern, and Labarrie moves into that spot now. Having a program without a lead recruiter is just like having a team without a point guard ... and we all know how that story ends.

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Why did this ever sound like a good idea to anyone?

Look - I can understand (sort of) the thought process that led people to shirtless football players standing with hot cars like this and this. In the end, it wasn't a good idea ... but at least I can follow the thought process.

This though ... I don't know where to begin.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Podcast News

One of the bigger focuses of this blog in this reincarnation is going to be podcasting. While I'm still trying to line up various guests ranging from other bloggers to "professional" media members to fans and friends - the first two podcasts are booked now.

In the next couple of days (pending technical issues) I'll have podcast #1 up with myself and a couple of friends discussing the ridiculously absurd ESPN 40 team draft and some general college football wide trends. In the middle of next week, Mike from the Navy blog The Birddog has graciously agreed to spend some time talking about Paul Johnson and the "spread option" offense. We'll cover some of the history of the offense as well as some of the more technical details.

The goal is for 1-2 podcasts a week of about 30 minutes each. We'll see how successful I am in keeping up that pace, but it should be entertaining.

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I'm sorry, I think you left out some key points ...

Calvin Johnson has a video up on Youtube teaching young WR's how to run a fade route, part of a series of instructional videos that Nike sponsored football players have participated in. It's actually a really good look at the technique required to get off the line cleanly and run an effective route (Calvin looks even bigger than he did at GT, if that's possible). And considering that CJ might be the best WR in terms of running the fade route I've ever seen (remember this catch against Auburn?, or this one against Clemson?, or this one against ND?), it's probably something that young WR's around the country should check out. Maybe someone should stick it on Stephen Hill's Facebook page, he should be watching it every night before he goes to bed.

All that being said, there were some important things he left out of the lesson. Calvin doesn't mention that growing to 6'4", working on your ability to verticle jump more than 3 feet and having gigantic soft hands are important prerequisites for this class (sounds familiar to some math classes I had where they conveniently forgot to tell you that a firm grasp of Bessel Functions was essential to even making it through the first day). The final line of the video is "more times than not, you'll be successful". Really? Somehow I just don't think that's true in my case, no matter how closely I follow Professor Calvin's instructions.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Check, check, check ... is this thing on?

So - Golden Tornado is back.

A lot of things have changed since I first started writing this blog - I moved twice, took a different "real" job, wrote on the side for AOL's Fanhouse for a couple of years and a bunch of other good GT blogs sprouted up. It used to be this blog, Scott over at the GT Sports Blog (which appears to be on some sort of hiatus right now) and Goldtimer over at Wreck Ramblin (defunct since 2007). Now there's all sorts of options - the guys at From the Rumble Seat are doing an awesome job and Jacket Buzz has been making a strong start with excellent practice reports.

Those sites are based in Atlanta, and they have larger groups of writers - they will always do a better job than me of covering the day to day activities in the program. This blog will go back to being what it was before - some random combination of analysis, snarkiness and personal opinions and experiences. Expect to continue to see more hoops stuff here than most of the other GT sites on the net just like before. There will also be some form of a weekly podcast, still trying to work out the details but it should be entertaining.

It's funny to look back and see what I was writing on this blog in the fall of 2006. The excitement for the basketball programs seems just sad in hindsight, and the soul crushing losses to Georgia and Wake to end what had started as such a strong football season hadn't happened yet. Maybe it's fitting that I'm spinning this back up at what is probably the highest point of anticipation for both programs since that time.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Mmm, Cupcakes are Tasty!

So the snacky beginning to GT's basketball schedule is now over, with the Yellow Jackets having consumed it without so much as a burp. What do four blowouts against lesser opposition have to show us?
  1. Javaris Crittenton is everything we needed, and then possibly some more on top of that. He's long, smooth and looks completely in control. Unlike the two other hyped freshman PG's in this class (Sherron Collins at KU and Tywon Lawson at UNC) he looks steady and ready for the big time. This was my biggest fear, this very talented team could be destroyed by poor play from Crittenton and a slew of freshman errors - but he's been extremely good right out the door. 100+ in the past two games isn't a mistake when your point guard has 19 assists combined.

  2. Lewis Clinch is more muscular, has improved his handle and is making "the leap" into a big time ACC scorer. He has the soul of an assassin and he's super smooth with what is turning into a lethal mid range game to go with his solid outside shooting. Anthony Morrow led the team in scoring and 3pt shooting last year, and yet Clinch is playing so well he's going to turn Morrow into a weapon off the bench. Plus, #0 as shooting guard is just sweet. Clinch has hit 21-29 shots in 3 games, scoring 50 total points - that's one impressive line.

  3. Thad Young is really good. We already knew this, but he hasn't dissapointed in the least. His passing and defensive are possibly more impressive than his offensive skills - prodigious as they are. More about Thad in a couple of points.

  4. Overall defense has been spectacular because of the ridiculous length of this team. Any time Crit, Thad and Faye are on the court at the same time there's more arms on the court than I've ever seen. Those three in particular are just everywhere and getting fingers on every pass. We extend the floor like the '04 team, forcing opponents to set up even farther away from the basket and creating easy scoring opportunities over turnovers. This is a fun, fun group to watch.

  5. Interior defense is still a bit spotty, and I'm not sure it's going to get better. When your two best shotblockers appear to be wings (Faye and Thad) and your two "post" players are a bit undersized in one case and slow to move their feet in the other, you're going to have a soft spot there if people can beat the pressure on the wings and backcourt. This might just be an area that Hewitt has to scheme around to overcome, though I'm scared what Hansbrough might do to us.

  6. This isn't the Hive, we have a #6 here - and it's Faye. He's been very impressive on the defensive end, and while he's a bit raw on the offensive end he's clearly got a large skillset and will only improve. Nice jumper, decent handles, good court awareness and a willingness to pass the basketball. It's on the other end where he's spectacular though, the guy is just everywhere and his hands seem to be on every ball. He goes from pressuring the PG on one possession to guarding the center the next under the hoop. He's going to play a ton because Hewitt loves defense and he's the best defender on the team.

  7. The best lineup so far is Crittenton, Clinch, Thad, Faye and Dickey and it's not even close. So athletic, so long and so able to pressure on the perimeter. As long as Dickey exerts effort on the defensive end of the court, he's clearly our best post presense and I love Jeremis Smith but he's more limited in what he can do defensively than Faye. Smith seems to work better with the second unit, and will still be one of the team leaders in minutes - but the group I listed is so fast and fluid and will give people fits all season long.

  8. This is the most talented Tech team I've ever seen 1 through 9, and while there will be growing pains (maybe as soon as Maui) there is enormous potential for the end of the season. The fact that Anthony Morrow isn't more prominently featured in this review says something ... the guy is still a heck of a player but he's no longer the "go to star" of this team, heck he's probably not even a starter even when healthy. That's ridiculous. Hewitt is slowly building a monster program in Atlanta.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Basketball ... Already?!?!

While football season is going full speed over at the AOL Fanhouse, we can't forget that basketball practice has started around the country, and Tech's young team is gearing up for a run through the ACC in the very near future.

There's been a lot written about the pair of McDonald's All-American freshman that Paul Hewitt brought in this past off-season, but lets not forget about the guys who are already on the roster. Ra'Sean Dickey is still the man in the middle (and one of DraftExpress.com's 15 NBA draft prospects to watch in the ACC), Jeremis Smith is still the enforcer and fiery heart of the team and Anthony Morrow and Lewis Clinch are 25 point games waiting to happen. Throw in other proven performers like Mario West and you have a lot of talent on the roster with experience already - this isn't going to just be the Thad and Critty show like some in the media have been making it sound.

To get you at least a tiny bit excited about basketball (I know it's hard with the football team ranked #13 and heading to Death Valley this weekend), here's a couple of videos to remind of just how much fun this season is going to be in the Thriller Dome.

Jeremis Smith dunks all over Nelson of Duke as Dickie V goes nuts

Jeremis with another vicious dunk against BC

Montage of 4 dunks (including electric ones from Mario and Jeremis) against NC State

Oh yeah, that Thad guy is going to be really good too

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Ugly Side of Winning

Dan wrote a great piece about GT fans earlier this month, and while it explains a lot - I'm not sure it even went far enough, as evidenced by the internet fan behavior of the past 24 hours. Since the moment GT went up 38-13 against VT and the game was basically over, there's been a sea change in the attitude of GT fans and it's very disturbing.

First, we've got "everybody back on board" effect. Sorry, you can't dedicate your existence to bad mouthing the coach, the program, the players, the quarterback, the OC, the stadium and the groundskeeper and then suddenly jump two feet on board the bandwagon when it's those same folks driving it. If you had a poll on your message board in the last two weeks seriously asking if the AD should fire the head coach in the middle of the season, you're off the bandwagon and not welcome back on. If you said you no longer consider yourself a GT fan, that's it - you're off. If you said you were cheering for ND in the opener because you openly hate our coach and want him gone, you're off. If you've mocked everyone who's said "you know, this offense isn't going to be half bad this year", don't come here now and start talking about ACC Championships with that very same offense you wasted so much time ripping.

Yes, I know fans are "fanatical" and do stupid stuff like this all the time, but come on. We claim to be a great educational institution, but I'd swear reading GT message boards and the AJC.com comment sections for the past several years that there's plenty of evidence that even absolute morons are capable of getting a GT degree. The constant backbiting and whining has given the entire program a sour note, and if you've dedicated your past several years to undermining anything good that GT accomplishes, you can keep right on doing that. Don't suddenly change your attitude because of one win by the EXACT SAME PEOPLE YOU HAVE SPENT 4 YEARS SPEWING VEMON AT. Georgia Tech won in Blacksburg because of Reggie Ball, Chan Gailey and Patrick Nix. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

It's one thing to raise legitimate complaints about performance and issues with the program. But it's a whole different ball game to openly root against "your" team, which a number of GT "fans" have done. I've been critical of individual items during Gailey's and Ball's tenure on this blog (after the Utah game, for example), but I've never gone even remotely close to the level of bile displayed by a disgracefully large portion of our fanbase. I have a pretty happy overall outlook about the program (basketball, baseball or football) because I want to enjoy cheering for sports, not spending my weekends making myself and everyone around me miserable. I can't imagine what it's like for guys like Ball, who I secretly hope takes in the applause on senior night after a great final year and just throws the bird to half the stands. If he doesn't, he's a bigger man than me. Heck, during Gailey's post game interview I'm surprised he didn't just say "this was for all the **** that kept calling for me to be fired".

Secondly, and maybe more disturbing - the trash talking element of GT fans is suddenly out in full force. Check out the Maryland board, there's a bunch of people "informing" UMD of just how badly they will be beaten this weekend in Atlanta. Of course, these guys are also the same folks claiming a couple of weeks ago that Chan should be fired because he "always loses to one inferior team" - so I'm not sure how that logic works in the first place (again with that morons graduating from Tech thing). We as Tech fans talk all the time about what unsportsmanlike boors Georgia fans are, but give us one tiny taste of success and it's the same crap. Seriously, stop freaking shaming the majority of us who have three brain cells to rub together and realize what jackasses you are making us look like. The VT win was the biggest of Chan's career, to be sure - AU x2 and UM were nice, but never put us in the ACC drivers seat or in contention for a BCS bowl - but it doesn't suddenly make this football team some sort of invincible force. This isn't mid-90's Nebraska here, and we're supposedly great fans who don't act like fools, so just keep your yapper shut for a few more weeks, ok? I love Tech sports, I'm ambivalent about Tech fans. The "little brother" phenomenom is just so tightly woven into the fabric of the average Yellow Jacket fan I'm afraid it's nearly impossible to remove, and it's an ugly, ugly sight when it gets into the light of day.

/rant off

(oh yeah - actual coverage and commentary on GT is over on AOL now, if you care to read it)