Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Make it stop ....
It gets worse.
Seriously, the incompetence of our former athletic director and his staff is simply staggering. If this is true (which I sincerely hope not), this is much, much worse than anything else that has happened so far.
Vertically Arched Lettering?
Monday, February 27, 2006
Chris Bosh - an Olympian?
Chris Bosh #1 in SportsCenter's Top 10
Could this be the year, finally? I don't know - GT has been ranked #1 in every single season since 2000, including preseason #1 rankings in '01,'03 and '04 and we know how those years ended. I'm still a bit worried about the starting pitching, but when your team is ranked #1 it's pretty bush to complain about much. Lets hope this is the season that Danny Hall finally gets his elusive championship and Tech breaks the ACC baseball curse.
You should be reading beesball.com every day during the season, but I'll try to have some more stuff on baseball as the season progresses.
You have mentioned before that you live in Lawrence, KS. Have you heard anything about the Kansas game for this year that was rescheduled? I was looking forward to their trip to Atlanta.
I've actually talked with RamblinRed about this as well, and quite frankly I'm not sure what's going on. Our schedule for next year is already jammed with Maui, the return trip to Vandy, the yearly UGa game, the ACC/Big 10 challenge and supposedly a game in the Georgia Dome. There was a blurb in the Lawrence Journal World that GT had requested the game to be rescheduled for the '07-'08 season, but no other news than that. From what I can gather from the KU athletic staff it seems that KU is going through scheduling as if the game this year won't happen. With my ties to both schools, I'm obviously a bit dissapointed in that - but that's the way it goes sometimes. Also, remember that we have a date with St. Joe's in Madison Square Garden at some point and it's quite possible that will end up in '07-'08 as well.
If I recall correctly,
you recently had a teaser
about your upcoming review and analysis
concerning the then upcoming matchup
between Thad Y and B Wright...
The bad guys won, didn't they?
But I don't recall your input...???...did I miss it?...Just
Along the same lines,
what is your analysis of how good BadThad is now,
will be next year,
and might become after that?
Chris Bosh is certainly blazing the trail
when it comes to constant spectacular improvement,
although he did start from further back...
Enjoy your take at the GTornado -
keep up the good work.
(Back when I was a young and impressionable wannabe,
I had an elderly aunt who had enjoyed a front row seat
for the glory days and always referred to GT
as the Golden Tornado...
so even tho perhaps it might not be in popular usage
as much as it once was, it always rings a bell in my ear.)
Yeah, I did tease that I would write something about Thad and Brandan Wright's matchup ... but other stuff came up, I seriously need an editor to keep myself straight. Anyways, Thad had 31 and 8 and Wright had "only" 20 and 6, but yes - Wright's team won. Anyone who watched the ESPNU national game can appreciate how streaky Thad's teammates can be. They basically play an undersize lineup with 4 guards and Thad at center ... and they chuck a lot of 3's. Unfortunately, in their recent matchup nobody else on Mitchell's team scored more than 10 points, and it basically was Thad in a one man show. Wright's an excellent player by the way, he's going to be scary good in Carolina blue.
How good is Thad now? Good enough to be a top 10 pick in the NBA Draft this year if he could declare. He's got a super sweet stroke out to 20' or so, can put the ball on the deck and is a good distributor of the basketball for someone his size. He has a very high basketball IQ, and should be somewhat of a "calming" influence on the team even as a freshman. I would imagine he'll average around 14ppg, 6rpg, 3apg and shoot around 50% for the season. He's as good as Carmello Anthony was in high school, though he's less of a physical presence under the basket than 'Melo was, but a bit better out on the perimeter. Defensively, he's a terrific athlete and blocks a ton of shots in high school - but he'll be forced to play on the wing and move his feet and stay with quicker and smaller players. He should adjust fine, but that will probably be the hardest part of conversion to the college game for him.
You ripped on Ra'Sean Dickey and Zam Fredrick earlier this year, do you still feel that way?
Um, yeah - lets just say that wasn't the smartest thing I've ever written on this site. Dickey has been the teams best player over the last 6 weeks, and his massive improvement is the brightest point of the season as far as I'm concerned. Dickey will be the second best offensive center in the ACC next year (behind Tyler "Salamander" Hansbrough), he has the complete package now that he has added the 15' jump shot to his arsenal. Defensively, Dickey still has a long way to go. I thought he did a better job holding his position against Eric Williams on Saturday, but he has had chronic problems all season in giving up position, forcing him to try and play defense with his hands and picking up fouls.
As for Zam, he has cut down dramatically on the two biggest peeves of mine earlier in the season. He doesn't take horrible shots early in the shot clock nearly as often as he did, and he's cut way down on the poor passes into the front row of seats. He's still not a true PG, and has looked much more comfortable now that he's playing off the ball more - but next year that shouldn't be as important. His ability to bring a scoring punch off the bench is going to be valuable, though I highly doubt he's a starter in either of the next two seasons with Morrow and Clinch competing for time at the same spot.
Nathan you put up videos from the TV matchups, is it possible you could get video of some of the prospects? Also, any plans on having a podcast?
I actually have a friend who sends me tapes from time to time of the AAU circuit, but I don't have the equipment to digitize analog tapes at this point. If anyone has a cheap solution in mind that I could use, I'll probably start putting up a few videos. Honestly though, this blog is mostly my personal opinion and commentary on the current GT teams, scout.com and rivals.com already do a much better job on recruiting coverage than I could ever do (especially since I live 1500 miles away).
As for a podcast, yes - it's something I want to do. Gotta figure out a schedule, and probably someone else to contribute with me, I think it'll be really boring listening to just myself.
Basketball is great and all, but I honestly am more interested in Spring football than this year's team. Do you have any thoughts on what we're going to see, and what do you think about the rumors of a new offensive system?
I'm contributing to Paul Westerdawg's blog in his series about previewing the enemy, so you'll have to wait until then.
Sorry for taking so long to respond to some of these, but as always if you actually care what I think about something you can reach me through the "contact Nathan" link at the bottom of the page.
Friday, February 24, 2006
Gani Lawal Video
GwinnettPrepRally.com is worth checking out if you are interested in Atlanta area high school sports in general, and the Gwinnett area particularly - it's the website of the popular and long running prep TV show by the same name. There has been various information and coverage Norcross High junior and GT commit Gani Lawal on there through most of this season.
Worth checking out is this highlight of a dunk on a feed from Kentucky bound Jodie Meeks, it shows off Lawal's hands, smoothness and athletic abilty around the rim. Obviously, everyone looks good dunking on smaller players - but it's still fun to watch. We'll have some more coverage of Lawal as next season rolls around, but for now he's worth keeping an eye on for the '07-'08 Jackets.
Calvin Johnson = Freak?
I guess it's no surprise to anyone who has followed GT football at all over the past couple of years that Calvin Johnson is a freak, but check out this list of College Football's Top Workout Freaks by Bruce Feldman over at ESPN.com
2. Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech: The 6-5, 235-pound junior is the most dynamic wideout in the country and has the total package. "Along with freakish skills, he has an unbelievable work ethic to match," says Tech director of player development Eric Ciano. "Calvin leads by example and he never complains or quits. His athletic ability is second to none. His first semester at Georgia Tech, Johnson vertical jumped 43 inches and had a standing long of 11-2. He has run consecutive 4.3 40-yard dashes at 235 pounds. He also power cleans over 330 pounds with ease. His strength, speed, and explosiveness are unmatched."
His combine scores next year are going to be off the charts, guys that run sub 4.4 40 times aren't supposed to be able to clean 330+. I hope he truly has a monster season this year, and that we can effectively get him the ball in the offense so he has a shot at back to back All-America seasons and a chance to shine while wearing the white and gold, because he's going to be a star in the NFL for whatever team lands him.
Check out Adrian Peterson's factoid by the way ... 36" vertical leap while holding 160lbs in weights? Yikes. I'm not sure you could genetically engineer bigger freaks than guys like C.J and Peterson.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Duke @ GT
Anyways, here's video Jeremis Smith's nasty facial of DeMarcus Nelson - complete with Dick Vitale's required antics in the background. As normal if the embedded player doesn't work, you can use this link.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
What do John Heisman, Bobby Dodd, Bobby Cremins, Homer Rice and Bobby Ross have in common? They all had nothing to do with Tech before coming to The Flats and being enormously successful. Actually, lets go through Tech history and find a "Tech Man" who did a great job later on ... I'll spot you Kim King, you list another one. No, Bill Curry doesn't count. That's it. There's nothing magical about getting a degree at Tech or playing football there that makes you suddenly so much more competant at running the Tech athletic department. It isn't that different from anywhere else. No, it's not Georgia. It's not Ball State or Cal Tech either - it's a BCS level athletics department with a few extra academic restraints (but not nearly as many as people would like you to believe - some folks are making it sound like a penal colony today or something).
The whole "Tech Man" concept is something the older generation has latched onto as some way of making themselves feel a sense of elitism ... "only someone who's been through GT can understand it". Bullcrap. What we need is someone not associated with the school who can come in and clean house of the pile of decrepit "Tech Men" we have who are doing a terrible job keeping anything organized. Tech has gotten lazy, self aggrandizing and needs a quick kick in the pants to force people to either get lost or join the modern age. There's a reason we all make fun of "The Hill" ... they're incompetant in many ways. So why on earth keep hiring people affiliated with that? Because we're too proud to admit someone else might be doing it better? Because we want to keep the status quo in place? Because we enjoy defining mediocrity in big time athletics? Seriously, this mancrush on Bill Curry (who I like a lot, don't mistake it- just not as an A.D) is moreso a symptom of a misplaced sense of importance of all things Tech in the world.
In short, memo to every Tech fan who is throwing a tantrum today - GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR BEHIND. THANK YOU.
The Best Shooter in ACC History
One of the things that makes quantifying great shooters in conference history so hard is the fact that until the introduction of the 3 point line there really is no stat to quantify "shooting" from "getting point blank layups" so a number of guys just don't get the recognition they should, and it's nearly impossible to compare them to current players. That being said, if we only look at players from after the introduction of the 3 point line, there's one who clearly stands out from the rest and that's Dennis Scott. Lets compare Scott's career through his junior season to that of J.J Redick.
Redick was quite an accomplished player right from the moment he stepped on campus, but he wasn't quite in Scott's league. Scott shot a better percentage from both the floor and from 3 and average more points per game, and it immediately becomes apparent that he was a much more well rounded player as well, with a huge lead in rebounding and assists that Redick would never even approach at any point in his career.
3-D actually had a bit of a sophmore slump, but his second season is still better than Redick's in every category. He made more shots and shot a better percentage, rebounded more, distributed better and scored almost 5 points per game more than Redick did. There is no question which player you would rather have had at this point in their careers, or which was one was a better "shooter".
J.J Redick last year was a First Team All-American, and had a tremendous season. Dennis Scott's junior season was simply much better, and that's saying something. Scott hit 137 3's. 137. He was the Sporting New's National Player of the Year and he led GT to the Final Four along with freshman phenom Kenny Anderson as part of "Lethal Weapon 3". Scott was absolutely dominant in 1990, against a very deep and tough ACC that put two teams in the Final Four. Scott again shot more, shot a higher percentage and as he moved to small forward rebounded much more than Redick did as a junior. Redick was a great player as a junior, Scott was one of the best in ACC history.
After his junior season, Dennis Scott was the ACC all-time leader in 3 pointers made with a staggering 351 in only 3 seasons, shot at a ridiculous 42% for his career. He was the #4 overall draft pick in the NBA draft that summer, and did not return to school for his senior season. His ACC record eventually fell to Curtis Staples who played four years at Virginia, and now Scott has moved down to #3 on the list with Redick's acension.
The fact that Scott was good enough to leap to the NBA early shouldn't be held against him in this conversation though, there was not a single same age season where Redick ever made more 3 pointers than Scott did, or shot a higher percentage - and I fail to see why that would have changed if Scott had stayed for the 90-91 season and played alongside Kenny Anderson for a second season. There's a very real chance that if Scott had finished his career at GT, he would have set the NCAA record for made 3's so high that Redick wouldn't even be within 50 by the end of his career.
Scott didn't stop shooting once he made it to the NBA either, as he shot 39.7% from 3 for his career in the NBA, and still holds the NBA record for most 3 point baskets made in one season with 267(!) in the 95-96 season on a ridiculous 42.5% clip. He hit 11 3's in one game against the Hawks that season, a record that would stand for almost 10 years until Kobe Bryant broke it recently. Dennis Scott had one of the purest and most lethal shooting strokes ever, and he never was afraid of showing it off. I have no real ill will against Redick, he's a great player and he's someone I'd love to see in a GT uniform - but he's not better than Dennis Scott, and he's not the greatest shooter in ACC history, no matter what the announcers say tonight. Scott is being slowly relegated to the dustbin of history somehow, but he certainly doesn't deserve to be there. The guy was an awesome, awesome player and one of the very best in ACC history - remember him tonight when Redick is on the court, even if the announcers won't.
(Random sidenote, both Scott and Redick played their high school ball in Virginia. What's in the water there, and can we bottle it?
We have an AD!
Dan Radakovich will be the 7th athletics director in Georgia Tech history, per the AJC. He was previously the senior associate athletics director at LSU, and brings a wealth of administrative and organizational experience to the GT job. He's had extensive experience with BCS caliber college football, and was responsible for LSU's football program from scheduling through day to day administration. He also worked closely with the basketball and baseball programs in Baton Rouge.
No offense to Bill Curry, who's been a wonderful Tech man and who we can hopefully keep involved in the program (that will be Radakovich's first big trick - keeping the "old guard" on board) and in fund raising, but it's obvious that the Tech athletics department has been a ship lost at sea for the last few years, with no clear direction and organizational control. People not going to NCAA briefings, transcripts being wrongly certified, academic advising and oversite in a general malaise, etc. There's a ton of work to do to overhaul the entire department, but I am excited to see we actually made a solid hire and it was someone with a background in a school were athletic success on the field was a priority - no offense to the Ivy League, but we like our football at Tech.
Honestly, I was worried that Clough and company might bomb this hire and turn us into Vanderbilt or Cal Tech, and while Radakovich might turn out to be a complete bust, his previous track record says that's a fairly low risk. I'm actually pretty enthused about this hire, and look forward to seeing what changes will be made - though most of the work will be internal and hopefully invisible to the average fan.
Monday, February 20, 2006
Wednesday - ACC Championship Game Rematch
Anyways, since nobody is really giving GT much of a shot on Wednesday night (and why should they), it's funnier to just list off why we hate Duke and more specifically, Duke fans.
#1: The guy in my office who's a Patriots fan and a Yankees fan just so happens to also be a "huge" Duke fan as well. Seriously. He's never been to North Carolina, never been to Cameron and has no attachment to Duke other than the fact they are on national TV 30+ times a year and are the one team he can name a player on the roster for. This describes around 90% of the Duke fans I've ever met.
#2: Growing up in North Carolina, outside of the two guys I knew through acquaintances that actually played basketball for Duke ... I didn't know a single Duke fan. It's nearly impossible to find a Duke fan in the area of the country where the school is located. I know people jokingly call it The University of New Jersey at Durham, but it's shockingly close to the truth. One of the most prolific posters at The Devil's Den is named DukeFanatRU ... nailing the stereotype to a "T".
#3: It's a very good school. Of course, so are a number of other schools in the ACC. The academic elitism that comes from Durham smacks a little hollow when you are trying to talk down to schools ranked in the top 5 in their fields, as I've had Duke students do to me. "Oh, you went to Tech ..." Heck yes I did, and I'd put up any amount of money you wanted to that I could pass History at Duke and you couldn't make it a semester in Applied Mathematics at Tech.
#4: Speaking of which ... it's in Durham. DURHAM.
#5: The Crazies. Could there be a dorkier group known to mankind? Even the Goldfellas aren't that dorky, and they are engineering students at a school that has like 8 total girls.
#6: Dahntay Jones. Speaking of fitting ... if you look up "goonball thug" in Webster's, you find this picture. We don't hate Duke players because they are white, we hate them for doing classless crap like pushups under the goal after a dunk. Dahntay Jones could give Hassan Adams lessons on how to scream and flex like an idiot, and that's saying something.
#7: Wojo. Epitome of overated Duke player who got on obscene amount of coverage while in school. Wojo slapped the floor a lot, that was pretty much the extent of his skills - and yet even casual fans can name him to this day.
#8: Finally, what's going to bother me wednesday night is the fact that the J.J Redick worship club will be in session, and as they are calling him "the best shooter in ACC history" they will be conveniently forgetting that J.J couldn't hold Dennis Scott's jock as a shooter, or scorer, or player ... or frankly, anything. More on this to come later, but the complete whitewash of Scott's accomplishments from the conversation is one of the running themes of this year that is starting to really annoy me.
Now, I don't hate Duke nearly as much as some people do - mine is reserved for the Georgia State Penal Colony of Athens - but this guy penned one of the most venom filled diatribes I've ever seen on the internet. I don't agree with all of it (I don't think there's a huge ref conspiracy, I just think they get a lot of calls because of reputation and Coach K), but it's worth a laugh if you have 15-20 minutes to read it. Anti-Duke Manifesto (Turtle Soup).
More on the Duke game tommorow, specifically - what on earth has happend to Dennis Scott's ACC career and why does nobody seem to remember him?
Chris Bosh in the big time
21 year old Chris Bosh was on the NBA's biggest stage last night in the 2006 NBA All-Star game and he aquitted himself very well - including a rave review by Doug Collins (even if the David Robinson comparison was a bit ... odd). Bosh finished with 8 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists in only 17 minutes of play - and more impressively looked completely in place with the best in the world on the court with him.
Watching him last night was interesting for me, I still remember him as a skinny quiet kid who was barely regarded as a top 50 player in the summer before his senior season of high school - and wondering what his impact would be at Tech as a freshman after he commited. It's amazing how much someone can change in 5 years, because he's clearly one of the very best power forwards in the world now, and has a terrific future ahead of him.
Since most college basketball fans don't neccessarily follow the NBA closely, I put together a couple of clips from Bosh in the All-Star game last night, make sure to check out his tomahawk dunk on top of a defenseless Steve Nash. If the embedded player doesn't work, you can use this link.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
From the AJC article:
"I'm very disappointed, and penalties for behavioral issues are going to be severe," Richt said in a statement. "Playing time is valuable to all players and it will be very limited to those who cannot conduct themselves in an appropriate manner."Yep, severe penalties for backups. I'll believe it when I see it at UGa, otherwise it's just FSU Lite.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
I can't take it
10 of the last 11 now. We've played better than that, but just cannot pull it out at the end and it's just incredible painful to watch.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
The best coaching move of the offseason
Tenuta is obviously the most important cog in the GT coaching staff, and it is nice to see him locked up for the time being. He will still probably interview for open head coaching positions, but this move was basically done to prevent anything like the rumored move to Michigan from occuring. I honestly don't know how much of a shot Tenuta will ever get at a major conference HC position unless it's at Tech itself - he isn't the smoothest guy in the world with the press, and has a bit of a reputation as a mad scientist and he's starting to get up in years a bit. If that keeps him cranking out top 25 defenses with lightly regarded recruiting classes on The Flats, then I'm all for it.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
I'm blaming my sister for this ...
So in short, I'm glad she enjoyed her trip to UNC. I'm glad they'd love her to play there and despite the fact that she's only a junior they're already putting the full court press on her. But couldn't she go and watch them beat ... say, Duke? Why did it have to be GT. Ugh.
And yes, I got multiple phone calls tonight ... payback for the ACC tournament games the past two years I guess.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Looking ahead to UNC
Both teams are playing fairly well right now, though UNC has the clear edge by entering the game having won 4 of 5 while GT has lost 4 of our last 5. If you look a bit closer, that's not as ugly as it seems because three of those losses were by a combined 4 points and the last game was a solid win over #16 North Carolina State. This game starts a two game road trip for GT, and if there is any shot at the N.I.T this year it is basically a "must win" for the Jackets.
Considering that I grew up in a UNC family and still follow the team pretty closely, I figured that a detailed preview of the UNC game would be in order. I've been very impressed with the job that Roy Williams has done in Chapel Hill this year - this year's UNC team has a few noticable holes, but he's got them playing very hard and the effort level covers up a lot mistakes. While I sort of broke this preview down by position, keep in mind that many of these matchups will be flexible on the defensive end and remember also that both coaches use their benches frequently this year, so the starting lineups aren't neccessarily an indicator of who will be on the court the majority of the game.
Point Guard: Bobby Frasor v. Mario West
The Jacket offense has looked much better with West running the point, not because of anything specific he's doing per se, but moreso because it frees up Zam Fredrick to play off the ball. Frasor isn't a true PG either, he and Zam are actually fairly similar players - though Frasor is a bit better ball handler. Frasor is a pretty solid offensive player, he can penetrate a bit, shoot it with range out the three point line and has solid court vision. He's not nearly as large or athletic as West (there's no way he could do this), and he's not the same class of defender - in fact I don't expect to see them matched up much on the offensive end for UNC, West will probably draw Terry on that end for most of the game.
This is a tough comparison, just because the roles are so different. Frasor is the primary ball handler for UNC, and West really isn't - GT doesn't have a primary ball handler recently, it's been a distributed role. West is GT's best wing defender, and a rather poor offensive player. Frasor is an average offensive player, and a bit below average on the defensive end (for now). West's game will be a success if he keep the turnovers down and frustrates Terry on the defensive end of the court, Frasor will be a success if he can keep UNC's offense running and effectively feed Hansbrough in the post.
Edge: Even (maybe slight advantage to Frasor if he can limit his TO's)
Shooting Guard: Wes Miller v. Lewis Clinch
UNC fans love Wes Miller for all the obvious reasons, he's a guy with a great story and he doesn't "look" like someone who could be starting for North Carolina - he's got a bit of Rudy syndrom going on as a guy who's earned his playing time by working his butt off. He also happens to be able to shoot the ball from 3 quite well if he's ignored, and that's nothing to be sneezed at. Clinch is basically the exact opposite - a highly recruited freshman who struggled at the beginning of the year and had to fight through a nagging injury for a while. Recently though he's really started to round into form, and his athleticism and quick release on his jumpshot have made him much more of a consistent scoring threat in recent weeks.
Neither Miller or Clinch are anything special as defenders, Clinch has much more natural ability while Miller tries very hard but his physical weaknesses just can't be completely overcome. Outside of his terrific game against FSU (6 made 3 pointers), Miller hasn't shown he can be a huge impact player - he's basically a one trick pony on the offensive end, though a dangerous one who requires constant attention. With Clinch really stepping up his game recently, and with UNC's perimeter defense probably focused more on Anthony Morrow I expect him to have a solid 10-15 point outing.
Edge: Lewis Clinch
Small Forward: Reyshawn Terry v. Anthony Morrow
Tech doesn't have a true small forward, though Mario West fulfills that role on the defensive end. Offensively it's more of a three guard set, and Morrow is the centerpiece of the offensive threat. Quite simply, he's one of the very best shooters in the country and leads the ACC in 3pt % at just over 44% on a large number (145) of attempts. Morrow's size and hair trigger release allow him to get his shot off in situations most shooters couldn't, and he has range well out past the NBA line. Morrow is an explosive scorer and has 3 different games of 28 points or more on the season, he's going to be the #1 priority of UNC's defense just like every other team GT has faced. Morrow's biggest weakness is that he turns it over too much, UNC will try to keep constant pressure on him and probably try to deny him the ball as much as possible - I also expect to see Terry, Ginyard and Green all rotated on Morrow to try and wear him down as much as UNC can.
Terry is much more of a typical SF with NBA size and athleticism (he's possibly the best NBA prospect on their team actually). He can shoot the 3, put the ball on the floor, get to the rim and is a decent defender. Terry is most dangerous in the open court where he can trail the break and hit jumpers or finish at the basket in traffic. He is also a solid rebounder, though it's not as large a difference between him and Morrow as you would think (5.2rpg / 4.4 rpg) because Morrow is also effective on the glass. Terry has been streaky and when the "Good Terry" shows up UNC is very tough to beat, he's just a very difficult matchup for most teams. GT actually has an advantage here that most teams in the ACC don't have, and that is Mario West - an athlete that can match Terry on the defensive end of the court and keep pressure on him.
I think West can frustrate Terry a bit, and GT is a solid team on the glass so he won't get as many easy close-in opportunities, but he's still a tough matchup. On the other side of the floor, Morrow is simply one of the best scorers in the conference and despite UNC's defensive efforts I expect that he will get his 16-20 points. As long as Morrow doesn't get 25 or more points, I think Roy will be happy with the job they do on him.
Edge: Anthony Morrow in a squeaker
Power Forward: David Noel v. Jeremis Smith
Theodus Tarver actually starts for GT, but Smith will see the lion's share of the minutes at the PF spot so I'm putting him here, you'll see Tarver and Dickey tag teaming on Hansbrough most of the game. Noel and Smith would actually be a good heavyweight fight, both look more like football players than basketball players and they both are explosive and lethal finishers in the open court (GT fans, if you didn't see Noel's windmill against NCSU you missed out). Noel has a more polished halfcourt offensive game, Smith basically gets his points off broken plays, dunks and offensive putbacks while Noel has as solid jumper that can reach to the three point line.
Noel is UNC's best defender (he might even be on Morrow a bit during the game), and is a better defender than Smith - who is no slouch in his own right. Smith is a markedly better rebounder and that is no insult to Noel, there just isn't anyone in the conference better than Smith on the glass. This has the makings of an extremely physical game to begin with, and these two guys will be right in the middle of it, they don't back down from anyone.
Edge: Even - Noel for his scoring and defense, Smith for his rebounding and junkyard dog mentality
Center: Tyler "Salamander" Hansbrough v. Ra'Sean Dickey
GT is going to use Dickey, Tarver and probably the tuba player from the band to try and slow Hansbrough down. I'm not sure it's going to matter much, the kid is just a tank and plays harder than anyone I can remember watching in a long time. GT has a very athletic and physical front line, and Hansbrough will earn anything he gets - but he's going to get his, the kid is just that good. Hansbrough is relentless on the offensive glass, has a varied array of offensive post moves and is flat-out tenacious. An entire team made up of players with Jeremis Smith and Tyler Hansbrough level effort would be nearly unbeatable.
GT's best shot might be for Dickey to get Hansbrough in some foul trouble on the other end of the court, he's extremely efficient in his own right (61% FG, 71% FT) and is the type of player that could give Hansbrough some trouble in the blocks. Dickey has played much better during the second part of the conference season, and when he's exerting maximum effort he can be a load down low. Tarver will provide some solid defensive assistance on Hansbrough in the post as well, but poses not much threat on the other end.
Bench: Marcus Ginyard, Danny Green, Byron Sanders and Quentin Thomas v. Theodus Tarver, Zam Fredrick II, and D'Andre Bell
"Hotel Hewitt" has actually fallen a bit out of favor in Atlanta this year, with only 3 players getting a lot of minutes off the bench - this is the least used GT bench in years. Tarver is actually starting right now, though he plays bench type minutes so I included him here. Ginyard has started for UNC at times this year as well, and Zam Fredrick was GT's starting PG until two games ago - so these two benches contribute a lot. The benches are an interesting contrast, because UNC's is more defensive minded and GT brings some firepower compared to the starting lineups.
Ginyard and Green are freshman wing players, with Ginyard being the defensive specialist and Green the jack of all trades. Green is quietly having a terrific season, but since he doesn't have the eye popping scoring numbers he seems a bit under the radar - make no mistake, he's a heck of a player. Expect to see both Green and Ginyard a lot as they try to frustrate GT's perimeter scorers and spell Miller and Terry on the wings. Thomas and Sanders won't play as much, and both are still fairly big weaknesses when they are on the court. Thomas actually doesn't look lost this year, but he's still not an ACC caliber PG and Sanders has actually become a competent backup, but neither are game changers by any stretch of the imagination.
Off the GT bench, Zam Fredrick II is easily the highest impact player having scored 41 points in the past two games and providing a much needed scoring punch and ball handling for an erratic GT backcourt. He struggled running the point, but now that he's playing in his natural SG position he's started to shine and show the skills that made him SC's all time high school scorer. He can shoot the 3, put the ball on the floor and penetrate and makes good decisions a fair percentage of the time. If Fredrick plays well again, GT has a shot in this game. For UNC fans, his game is basically what Bobby Frasor will probably be doing next year - playing as a true combo guard and backing up both the PG and SG spots. D'Andre Bell has been playing less and less recently, but he's a solid defender and decent ball handler who can contribute some on the offensive end with a smooth left handed jumper. Bell is a freshman coming off a fairly severe injury in his senior year of high school, so he still has a fair amount of improvement to do in his overall game. Tarver is the one senior on GT's team, and is the post defensive specialist - a solid shot blocker and rebounder, but not much of an offensive threat. He's going to be on Hansbrough a lot, and that's a tall task for him.
Edge: North Carolina. Right now Fredrick is the best player off the bench for either team, but Green and Ginyard are very solid players and contribute a ton. Roy has gotten excellent play out of his bench this year, and that should continue.
I wish this game was in the Thriller Dome so GT had chance to build off the nice win over NCSU, but it's in the Dean Dome and against a hot UNC team. While GT has the talent to compete with UNC (heck, the Jackets might actually have more talent right now) - the players UNC has fit together better and are a better "team" at the moment. GT could really use a Wes Miller type in the backcourt to handle the ball against pressure and provide some leadership, for example. Hewitt has had success against UNC and Roy Williams recently (WILL BYNUM!) going 3-3 the past 3 seasons, but none of that has come in the Dean Dome.
This is going to be a very physical game, and probably a bit sloppy as well. If GT continues to shoot well from the perimeter and Dickey at least provides a counter to Hansbrough in the paint, the Jackets could pull this off. Unfortunately my head tells me UNC wins a close hard fought game at home, they just have a couple of older players they can depend on down the stretch and the best overall player in the game (Hansbrough). This is just a very young GT team, and expecting them to win road games in the conference, especially at places like the Dean Dome is probably too much to ask.
Monday, February 13, 2006
(EDIT) - due to request here's a location to download the high resolution original: (already blown up - thanks Hivers!).
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Fredrick's improved play
In the first 20 games this season, he hit 35.1 percent of his field goals, 27.4 percent of his 3-pointers. In two games as a sub, he's hit 16 of 23 shots (69.6 percent), and six of eight 3-pointers (75 percent), including three of four Sunday. Somebody's listening to coaches.
"[Assistant] Coach [Peter] Zaharis broke down my shot chart from [3-point range], and I see what they're talking about," Fredrick said. "Once you see it as a player on film, then you believe it.
"Seeing that you shoot 45 percent [of your 3s] on the inside-out, 29 percent on the ball reversal and 11 on stop-and-pop ... you stop shooting the stop-and-pop. You try to get more of the ball reversals and the kickouts."
Sounds like the coaching staff is starting to get through to the younger guys, and they are taking advantage of their strengths and avoiding their weaknesses better. As a matter of fact, it doesn't sound like it's limited to just Fredrick either - his other compatriot off the bench is starting to learn a few lessons as well.
With the Jackets leading 64-62, forward Jeremis Smith lost the ball but came up with it again. He passed to the right corner. "I think not even two or three games ago I would have tried to take it back up myself and probably gotten fouled," Smith said, "and we'd have been going the other way without a call." The most encouraging part of the last couple of games has been the emergence of Fredrick as a solid scoring option now that he's playing off the ball more (big ups to Mario for his play at PG as well) and how well Zam and Smith have responded to coming off the bench instead of sulking. Actually, add Dickey in that list as well after his benching earlier in the season and it seems that this group has their heads screwed on straight. Progress is slowly happening, I'm just glad that yesterday the scoreboard represented that as well for once.
With the Jackets leading 64-62, forward Jeremis Smith lost the ball but came up with it again. He passed to the right corner.
"I think not even two or three games ago I would have tried to take it back up myself and probably gotten fouled," Smith said, "and we'd have been going the other way without a call."
The most encouraging part of the last couple of games has been the emergence of Fredrick as a solid scoring option now that he's playing off the ball more (big ups to Mario for his play at PG as well) and how well Zam and Smith have responded to coming off the bench instead of sulking. Actually, add Dickey in that list as well after his benching earlier in the season and it seems that this group has their heads screwed on straight. Progress is slowly happening, I'm just glad that yesterday the scoreboard represented that as well for once.
Myths About the '05-'06 GT Basketball Team
FINALLY!. After having the lead at the half or later in 5 of the 8 losses in the recent gawdawful stretch, and losing 3 of the last 4 by a total of 4 points (read that again, then go puke) - GT finally held on to a lead and beat #16 NCSU today in Atlanta 71-68. 8 game losing streak this season, done. 7 game losing streak to NCSU, over. Horrible wrenching feeling in my gut during the last 5 minutes of every game, still there - but a bit less than before.
The worst part of the losing streak was listening to GT fan comments about this season that really aren't/weren't based in fact - so with a win over a Top 25 team finally under our belts and the losing streak over, I can tear into a couple of these.
- "Hewitt needs to recruit shooters, he just recruits athletes and that's why we struggle to score at times."
Nearly 40% 3 point shooting in ACC games says that Hewitt has recruited a number of guys that can shoot the ball. Morrow is truly an elite shooter (more on this later) and Clinch and Fredrick can stroke it as well. Speaking of Fredrick, now that he's playing off the ball he really looks like the prolific scorer he was supposed to be coming out of high school and his confidence is much, much higher. This team certainly has the firepower to put up a bunch of points when not turning it over at ridiculous rates (unfortunately, that seems a lot ask right now). There's a lot of shooters though, Hewitt has recruited well in that area.
- "This team isn't buying in or playing with the effort you expect, Hewitt isn't doing a good job."
Well, at points early in the year this was a valid criticism. But in the past month (possibly excluding the Miami game), this team has played very hard - they just are young and can't closeout games at all. The tough loss to VT really seemed to be a shot the psyche of the club as well, and they've struggled in end game scenarios. That doesn't mean they've quit, or stopped playing hard - they have really hustled and battled and had leads in almost every loss. Losing @BC by 2, @VT by 1 and @FSU by 1 isn't failing on effort - it's just failing on execution in the final minutes, something that has be learned by experience.
- "Ra'Sean Dickey is a lazy oaf"
Oh wait, that was me. Lets just say I couldn't be more wrong right now. Dickey is the best all around player on the floor for Tech over the past month, and his improvement off the ball on the offensive end has really started to show. He sets screens like a monster, is moving hard without the ball between the blocks to set himself up, and when he gets it in the paint it's almost automatic - heck, he's even passing the ball much better. He still has lapses on the defensive end from time to time (esp. letting other big men get position on him), but his effort level there has improved as well. Dickey is going to have to be a force for next year's team to be special, he seems much more on that track now than he did 6 weeks ago.
- "This team is lacking All-ACC caliber talent"
I wanted to compare a couple of current members of this GT team to recent players in the ACC at the same stages of their careers - just to point out how effective they've been already as young players.
Anthony Morrow ('05-'06)
16.5ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.7apg, 45% FG%, 44% 3pt% (2.9 3's made per game)
J.J Redick ('03-'04)
15.9ppg, 3.1rpg, 1.6apg, 42% FG%, 39.5% 3pt% (2.75 3's made per game)
Anthony Morrow as a sophmore is better than Redick was in every single facet of the game. He's a better shooter than Redick was, has better shot selection, is a better rebounder and a better defender. If Morrow played at Duke, he'd be going through the hype machine as one of the great pure shooters in college basketball (which he is). Will he turn into a First Team All-American? Probably not, because he won't play enough minutes and Hewitt won't run a one man offense where he can get that many shots (Tech will just be too deep the next two years) - but he's very clearly on his way to being one of the top scorers in the ACC and could average around 20ppg next year.
Ra'Sean Dickey ('05-'06)
12.3ppg, 6.7rpg, 1.5bpg, 61% FG%, 71% FT% (1.48 pps, 3.0 TOpg)
Sean May ('03-'04)
15.2ppg, 9.2rpg, 1.3bpg, 46% FG%, 69% FT% (1.25 pps, 2.3 TOpg)
Dickey probably will never be the rebounder Sean May was, even though he's a very good one - Dickey this year is getting rebounds at a very respectable rate of 10.2/19.8 (orb% / drb%), which makes him one of the better rebounders in the country - and his numbers are probably a bit reduced because he plays alongside Jeremis Smith who is having one of the best rebounding seasons in recent ACC history. What does stand out to me is Dickey's offensive efficiency - it's ridiculous. I consider May to be one of the more effective low post scorers in the ACC in the past couple of years, and Dickey just blows him away. 1.48pps is a huge number - showing just how effective he is in the low blocks, and just how good his shot selection is. If Dickey can put forth the same level of effort May did (basically carrying his team to an NCAA title) he can certainly have the same impact - and as this season continues on he's starting to show he can be more like that kind of player.
Jeremis Smith ('05-'06)
12.2ppg, 8.9rpg, 2apg, 1.6spg (1.41pps)
I honestly can't come up with a recent comparison for Jeremis Smith so I just put up his stats - I guess I'd be interested to hear if he reminds anyone else of someone. To me he's a very unique player, in that he scores almost all his points on "trash" plays or offensive rebounds, yet he's an effective ball handler. He's an absolute monster on the boards, but not a great scorer when given the ball on the blocks. Speaking of rebounding, Smith has a ridiculous 13.0/20.1 (orb% / drb%) split on the season - and again, he and Dickey both impact each other's rebound rate a fair amount - if either one were the only post player on the court for the majority of a game, they'd have even higher rates. The most bizarre Smith statistic though is that he's 12th in the country in Free Throw Rate (FTM / FGA) meaning he's one best in the country at getting to the line when he's shooting. If he could just up his FT% into the 70% range, he'd become a much more dangerous offensive option.
Now, I'm not saying that next year we're going to have the All-American versions of Redick and May on the court at the same time to go along with the best rebounder in the country - the point was to show just how effective our sophmores have been already. There's a bunch of talent there, and in most of the cases it's already turning into production. Yes, they need experience and the basketball IQ that comes along with - but so did May and Redick and all the other studs in the conference in recent years, that's not something unique to only this version of the Jackets.
There are still a lot of problems with this edition of the Jackets. They are still a 3-8 team in the conference and have a losing record overall (man, losing to UIC sucked) - but at the beginning of the year I figured that breaking even in the ACC would be a magnificent season, and 6-10 was more likely. If GT can keep their recent quality of play up, 6-10 is still a pretty good possibility and two wins over Top 25 teams is nothing to sneeze at. Obviously everyone would prefer that we were 8-3 right now instead, but that was just never in the cards for this season. All in all, I refuse to get too down on this team - every game I watch (especially the last 6 weeks) they are playing hard, they have a lot of obvious talent and they are improving and that's keeping me cautiously optimistic for next year.
Tommorow - highlight video of the NCSU game, comments on the "BIG OFFENSIVE CHANGES!!!!" which probably don't mean much, quick comments on Thad Young's matchup against Brandan Wright and some baseball commentary ... it was a busy weekend in GT sports for sure.
Friday, February 10, 2006
Quinner finally throws in the towel
Former Duke assistant coach Quin Snyder has stepped down as the head coach at the University of Missouri after a historically terrible run as the headman of a major division 1 program. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong and if there's anything he'll be remembered for more than the litany of NCAA violations, taking a preseason top 5 team to a first round loss in the N.I.T, losing both ends of a home and home series to Davidson, losing to Sam Houston State and being blown out by Baylor ... it won't even be when MU fans desperate to have him gone dumped popcorn all over him after a blowout loss to Illinois.
It will be of him belting out "The Eye of the Tiger" to try and motivate his team. Should have been fired right then, quite frankly.
Hewitt on recruiting 6th graders and McD's AA Preview
Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt subscribes to HoopScoop and similar online recruiting services. He said he uses them to help evaluate high school players -- not middle school kids. "Pretty comical, isn't it?" he said, when asked about ranking children.As I mentioned a couple of days ago, my younger sister is a pretty highly thought of volleyball player with the ability to play for a large conference division 1 school - and I can't imagine if she'd been looking at national rankings since she was 10 years old. Heck, she still doesn't even really know where Auburn is, and she's a junior in high school. Thankfully volleyball is far lower profile than basketball, and her parents have done a terrific job shielding her from as much as possible - but how on earth do you live a normal teenage life? Is it a wonder so many basketball phenoms end up broken and disfunctional? Kids aren't ready for this, they shouldn't be pressured and exposed like this - and yet it's huge business and thus parents, AAU coaches and these recruiting services are just feeding the internet driven thirst for information about these kids barely old enough to need Clearsil. It's ugly, and unfortunate.
Hewitt said he doesn't waste his time "looking for the next great sixth-grader."
In other news today, Andrew Skwara from Rivals.com penned a piece for The Sporting News about the projected McDonald's All-Star game invitees - which is of great interest to GT fans this year because two of the '06 Jacket recruits look to be likely candidates. He has Thaddeus Young as a "lock" and Javaris Crittenton as "likely". It's a political event moreso than even a basketball game anymore, but it will be fun to watch two future Jackets on the court together if it works out.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Chris Bosh, All-Star
Congratulations to a fine person, a great representative of Tech and a great basketball player.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
I have to lay that framework out, because it directly effects this story. My younger sister is 6'2" and one of the top junior volleyball players in the southeast - she's being recruited by most of the southeastern schools as well as several national powers like Minnesota. Her mother played D-1 volleyball, and her older sister was a good player as well, so to play as a young girl she had to learn to set and play the back row, which has led to her having a tremendous all-around skillset for someone with her heigth and athleticism. The UNC coaching staff has taken a pretty high level of interest in her for a while, and last week invited my family up to visit the campus and offered them tickets to the Duke @ UNC game last night as a bonus while they were up there.
Under normal situations that would be a no brainer, with my dad being a huge fan and all (he was at the Walter Davis game as a student, etc) - but he had a business trip and they ended up postponing the visit until UNC's next home game. I talked to him last night as he watched game from his hotel room and he didn't even know who the opponent would be - I looked it up this morning and of course ... it's the Georgia Tech game. I won't hear the end of it for a week if UNC wins, especially after last year's ACC tournament win. Ugh.
Monday, February 06, 2006
Duke gets calls (no way!)
On the other hand, feedmyego over at InsideCarolina.com (big surprise, IC is all over this) did a bit more digging and came up with this pretty interesting dataset regarding Duke's foul situation this year. He compared it to UNC's - a team that has shot more FT's than their opponents by a pretty large margin (similar numbers to Duke actually), but a team that should be expected to get those extra attempts because they pound it inside with Hansbrough, Noel and Terry on a regular basis. This is what he came up with:
So - what do we see? Well, it looks fairly typical actually ... the close games are hard fought, with both teams getting about the same number of FTA's as they battle back and forth. When UNC is blowing someone out, they have a larger number of FTA's as they play better and their opponents try to keep it close. This is what I'd expect to see for a normal team.
Just as a final comparison, there's the numbers from UNC's National Championship team from last year - one of the most dominant interior teams in the ACC in a long time. They show the same typical pattern you'd expect, a marked difference from Duke's this year. There's analysis for several other historic teams in this thread - and they all show the same trend you'd expect. Something is very odd about those Duke numbers from this year.
A huge part of the reason people feel Duke gets all the calls is because in close games down the wire it seems every huge call goes their way (or the majority of them). Looking at the stat breakdown here, it seems to back that up with Duke going to the line a ton in close matchups. Yes, they are a smart and well coached team - but they aren't that smart and well coached. Coach K works the refs better than anyone in college basketball today, and it shows up in the ends of games when Duke gets just a hesitation more on the whistle than their opponents.
Congratulations to Ken Whisenhunt
This story is old (from 2004 when Whisenhunt first took over in Pittsburgh), but it's a terrific look back at the legendary afternoon in 1980, and his career at Tech. It's worth a read, even if you already know how it turns out.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
THE SKY IS FALLING!, THE SKY IS FALLING!
Obviously though, recruiting has a huge impact on actual on field results (it's more about the Jon's and Joe's than the X's and O's), so it is something as fans we should be paying attention too ... but I have never subscribed to the theory that you have any clue how good a class is until at least 2-3 years down the road. This is much different for basketball, but that's an entirely different column at a later date.
Yadda, yadda whatever - instant gratification. How did Tech do, and is Gailey a winner or loser this year? Well, how about neither? Scout.com and Rivals.com and basically everyone else grades classes on both quality and quantity, and because of probation and a limited number of graduating seniors, the quantity portion was immediately out of the picture for Tech. There was no way on God's green earth this was going to be a top 25 "ranked" recruiting class, and everyone knew that. Combine that with the fact that Tech has only had one non-qualifier in the last 5 years, and you get smaller class sizes. NCSU has had 20(!) non-qualifiers in the past 5 years, that's 4 kids a year to count towards your recruiting rankings but have actually 0 impact on your program. So, with all that to consider - expecting a class ranked better than 30ish was foolish and plain ignorant, there was no way a 15-17 person class was going to be ranked higher.
Lets look at the "supposedly" key newcomers for this year I'm most excited about (who knows, they could all be busts and a 2* TE we don't hype ends up playing in the NFL like Keyaron Fox):
Anthony Barnes (LB) - remember that one non-qualifier Tech has had in the past 5 years? Here he is, and he's qualified now and will be a true freshman this year. It's always nice to have a 4* linebacker stached away in your back pocket, and while he technically doesn't count towards this class for ranking purposes, he's a nice addition to the team for practical on the field purposes.
Demaryius Thomas (WR) - Big wideout who most of the other major schools wanted to play TE. I'm excited about him, Tech has had a lot of success recently with bigger WR's - the question with Demaryius is if he's fast enough to get deep at the D-1A level or if he's going to be a "possession receiver".
Osahon Tongo (LB) - Projects to have nice size for an outside LB in college, and along with Barnes and Sedric Griffin gives Tech a nice core at LB for this class. This has been a position that Tech has had a lot of success at in the past, we'll see how this group pans out.
Sedric Griffin (LB) - About as "under the radar" as you can get, until he blew up at the Shrine Bowl. Could be this year's Vance Walker, a gem in the rough that nobody knew about - or he could have just had the best week of his life when everyone was watching. Chan's staff has done a decent job finding this type of player before, so I'm cautiously optimistic.
Laurence Marius (DB) - Highly thought of recruit (4*) out of Florida with good size, speed and quickness for a corner. With Pat Clark moving to CB as well, there will be plenty of depth at that position.
Jamaal Evans (RB) - Highly ranked RB who just lit up the Texas large class high schools for the past couple of years. 2000+ yards in that competition is nothing to sneeze about. On the other hand, he's itsy bitsy and isn't reported to have the breakaway speed you think a smaller back has to have to suceed. We'll see, there's a reason he put up all those yards in high school - hopefully that same reason translates to the college level.
DaRon Jasper (S) - On this list because he's probably going to have to play a lot next year, with Tech's serious depth problems at Safety. Local kid with great size, we'll see how he does if he's thrown to the wolves next year.
Other players of note include Byron Ingram, Correy Earls and Quincy Kelly - guys who may all play a role in the future of Tech football, though probably not right off the bat. Actually, I'm not sure how many true freshman are going to have much of a role on what will be a fairly veteran Tech team next year.
Overall this class is pretty vanilla, which is what I've come to expect with Gailey. No surefire "SUPERSTAR!!!" talents, but probably a couple of gem in the rough kids who'll have more of an impact than people expect. It's not "we're going to be Vandy" time, but it's not a class that's going to excite the fanbase and get folks to buy season tickets with visions of BCS bowls dancing in their heads either. Basically, it's probably a 7-5 class which fits, because Tech has become a 7-5 program. We lost a kid we really wanted (Heath Bachelor), but kept another one (Demaryius Thomas) ... in all, just another year in Tech recruiting.
Overall 2006 recruiting effort? C (average grade for an average job)
At least we're making them earn it
- Boston College lost to NCSU
- NCSU lost to Duke
- Wake Forest lost to NCSU
- Clemson lost to NCSU
- Maryland lost to Temple (!)
- Boston College lost to Duke
With Virginia Tech getting Boston College in their next game, it's a pretty good shot to go to 7 straight conference teams losing their immediate matchup after playing Tech. Wierd stats galore!
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
The camera adds 10 pounds
Angra over at The Hive made a couple of video captures of the "over the back" call to end the game against VT, as well as Jeremis' sick reverse alley-oop earlier in the game. I suggest watching the first as few times as possible and the latter quite a few more - it'll be better for your health.
I don't hate the ACC, I don't think the refs are out to get us, I don't think it's some giant "North Carolina Schools" conspiracy - but I do think officiating in the ACC in general is terrible, and that call last night was horrendous and cost GT an essential road victory if this young team is going to make the N.I.T - there's a lot of things that went wrong (Zam shooting 9 3's to start with), but that is a road game that this team should have won, and road wins in conference are huge no matter how you get them. On the bright side, the effort level has continued to climb during the conference season, and Ra'Sean Dickey is playing like the manchild he should be right now.