Monday, January 16, 2006

My expectations were so low ...

Going into the season I figured just getting to .500 would be an accomplishment, and figured we'd lose every single road ACC game, so efforts like the one on Saturday have me excited, as I was prepared to watch a string of 20 point losses on the road to good teams this year. GT played great and lost to a good team, because make no mistake, NCSU is a very good team and the RBC Center is a tough place to play - not to mention they are coached by the Yellow Jacket hating devil himself.

(Sendek urges on his minions)

Things that make me want to dance:
  • Turnovers. More accurately, the lack of said events that lead to heartburn and gray hair. GT only had 11 on Saturday, against one of the better defensive teams we will see all year. Of those, Fredrick only had two - which is quite livable, and a long way from where we were earlier in the year. I was very, very impressed with the way our young backcourt handled themselves on the road faced with veteran players on the other side of the ball.

  • After spending all of last season watching gut wrenchingly bad offensive performances one after another, it's fun to watch a GT team who can put the ball in the hole on a regular basis. Dickey and Smith are a nice 1-2 punch inside, Morrow is a heck of a shooter from deep and Bell, Clinch and Fredrick can dribble penetrate and create their own shots. The offensive efficiency ratings don't represent it yet (mostly because of very high turnover numbers early in the year), but this team is going to score a ton of points on some folks in the next couple of years.

  • Dickey went for 12 and 12, and showed flashes of his true ability again. I'm cheering harder for him than probably anyone, we need him to round into a dominant big man for this team to truly gel. If you look at the history of GT centers it's basically Rich Yunkus and .... no one. Dickey has a chance to go down as one of the best ever in white and gold if he can keep his focus on the game.

  • Lewis Clinch is healthy, and he's a baller. There was a lot of handwringing in Jacketville after the UGa freshman played so well against us and he struggled a bit, but there's a reason why we went after Clinch and not them. The guy can score, and score in bunches. He's a terrific athlete, can get to the hole almost at will and looks to really be improving on the defensive end. I'd expect a couple of 20 point games from him in the ACC season, and for him to be a huge part of what happens with next year's team. Only part of his game I'm still waiting to see at GT now is one of the slashes to the basket finished with a nasty one hand slam that he showed off a ton in AAU ball - I figure as he gains some confidence in his legs, we'll see it soon enough.

  • This team is also the best rebounding team I can remember in Atlanta in quite some time, as the Jackets outrebounded yet another opponent, and more importantly continued the excellent defensive rebounding, leaving NCSU with only 6 offensive boards - something that has killed us in the past against them was long boards off missed 3 pointers, but that was a non-issue on Saturday. Dickey had 12 of those boards, Smith only chipped in 5(!) ... but Zam Fredrick had 7, he did yeoman's work on those long misses.

Reasons I still throw stuff around the house:
  • Defensively, this team still isn't where I'm sure Hewitt wants them to be. NCSU is a very efficient offense (11th in the country, according to Ken Pomeroy), but we still let them shoot 54% for the game. It's very difficult to win when your opponents make more than half their shots, and even worse when they hit half of those from 3 point range. Our young guards still struggle a bit when forced to defend the perimeter for extended stretches of time, and part of that is just something that is going to come with experience.

  • Zam Fredrick's shot selection is still an issue. He shot 4-13, and took the second most shots in the game - being the PG with the ball in your hands should mean you help your teammates find open looks, it's not a license to shoot at will because you got the rock. He's getting better, but he still shoots way too much, and sometimes far too early in the shot clock. If this team is going to win 7+ ACC games, it's going to be with Clinch, Morrow and Dickey doing most of the scoring and with Fredrick setting them up.

  • Speaking of shooting, 9-16 from the free throw line isn't going to get it done. Ouch. Heck, 16 FT attempts isn't enough either. With GT's frontline, people should be getting to the line more and certainly shooting a better percentage, part of this is a symptom of the guards trying to do too much individually or taking poor shots. A few more chances inside for Dickey or Smith wouldn't hurt, we really got away from them in the second half - and allowed Cedric Simmons to stay in the game after getting his 3rd foul because we weren't pounding it on him.

All in all, I thought it was a really strong performance on the road from a very young team that's finding their sea legs. Hewitt is really maximizing what he has this year, and I'm excited about the rest of the ACC schedule. 7-9 seems much more realistic now than it did a month ago. Also, as a side note - GT is #95 in the RPI right now, with 2 wins against the top 50, and 3 wins against the top 100. Actually, GT hasn't lost to a team ranked below 100 (even UIC is in the top 100). This is a much better team than I hoped for, and while there's still a long way to go - it's a bright future for this group.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yunkus? What about Salley and Alvin Jones? Jones had a very good SR year under Hewitt and was a ridiculous defender under the basket that year.


7:38 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Was Alvin a really great overall player though? Guy blocked a ton of shots, but that was about it. If you could have combined Collier and Jones into one player, he would have been absolutely dominant.

Dickey has a shot to be better than either one of them individually.

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would say that Alvin had a great year (probably not a great overall player). That team had no business being in the NCAA tourney but Alvin and Tony practically willed them in.

But Salley should be mentioned with Yunkus.

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alvin averaged a double-double as a SR and was 1st team all-ACC. Not too shabby.

From"averaged 13.4 points and team-leading 10.4 rebounds (10th in nation) as a senior in 2000-01"

11:20 AM  

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