Friday, March 30, 2007

Hoops - Out with the Old, In with the New

Two nice things happened this week in the world of Georgia Tech hoops. Our lone senior, Mario West, got to go out in a blaze of glory last night as he won the college slam dunk championship with what must have been an amazing mid-air, through-the-legs, slam-it-home, perfect-score-of-60 power dunk.

We all are incredibly proud of Mario for the work ethic, heart and stick-tuit-iveness he showed at Tech. He leaves a 100% YellowJacket through-and-through and he will go down in the books as a story of work, pride and success. His picture will be right next to PJ Daniels' in "the book".

And here is "the dunk" (at the end of the clip. check out Coach Hewitt's reaction - price-less)

So while we say goodbye to an old friend, we say hello to another - Gani Lawal. Ganie participated in the McDonald's High School All-American Game this week. How did he do? Try 12 rebounds (8 of them offensive) and 12 points (5-12) - all in 18 minutes. Gani did what only a few on the court were willing to do - the dirty work. He cleaned up the boards, setup other guys, ran the floor hard and didn't get fancy about any of it. It was a performance that in many ways highlights perfectly what Gani is about. Everything we can tell is that he's a guy who will play within his game, won't try to be something he's not, will run and run and run and run, has high character, is a great student, and has a pretty fun personality as well.

Here's what one website had to say about his performance:

Another one of the top performers of the night for the East was their extremely long and athletic big man Gani Lawal, who just wanted to do the dirty work for them all game long. No one played harder in Louisville, whether it was running the floor like a madman, being incredibly active on the glass, playing very strong defense, or trying to fight for position inside with Michael Beasley. 12 rebounds (8 offensive) in 18 minutes should give you an indication of the kind of nose for the ball that Lawal has, and when combined with his incredible wingspan and athleticism, we’re talking about a guy who can have a real impact in his career at Georgia Tech.

He runs the floor extremely well, has good, strong hands, and seems to be a reliable target to throw the ball to for lobs and easy finishes. He’s not the kind of guy that wants to get pretty around the hoop, he’ll just go up and dunk it if given the opportunity to. When he tries to start creating offense for himself is when things start getting murky for him. He doesn’t look to be the most polished guy in the world by any stretch, but has reportedly only been playing basketball for a few years now. Numerous people we know have gone out of their way to tell us how highly they think of Lawal’s attitude, character and work ethic, and that alone makes us think he’s got a pretty good chance to develop into an NBA prospect down the road.

In case you're curious, here are the McD AA's that suited up for GT (from RamblinRed at the Hive):

1983 Bruce Dalrymple
1984 Duane Ferrell
1985 Tom Hammonds
1986 Brian Oliver
1987 Dennis Scott
1989 Kenny Anderson, Darryl Barnes
1991 Travis Best, James Forrest
1992 Martice Moore (transferred to COL in 1994)
1995 Stephon Marbury
1996 Jason Collier (transferred to GT in 199
1997 Dion Glover
2002 Chris Bosh
2006 Javaris Crittenton, Thaddeus Young
2007 Gani Lawal

In addition, here is how Tech stacks up against other teams for MDAA's

North Carolina 48
Duke 39
Kansas 24
Kentucky 24
Michigan 17
Indiana 16
Louisville 16
Georgia Tech 15
Maryland 12

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Hoops - The Offensive Paradox

Coach Hewitt came out recently in an AJC article insinuating that our offensive scheme was too complicated and that maybe it was that complexity that bogged down our offense at times.

“Oh, yeah. Yeah. I thought there were some things early on that I could have simplified to make it easier for them,” said Hewitt on Monday, referring to a loaded roster that included freshmen Javaris Crittenton and Thaddeus Young, a couple of future NBA lottery picks, maybe sooner than later. “I was talking to Dean Keener, my former assistant, who is now the head coach at [James Madison], and I told him, ‘If this group comes back intact next year, what I definitely plan to do is to kind of streamline things offensively.’ They’re so gifted. I just think you have to put them in a position where they can do something with the ball. Earlier in the year, I complicated things a little too much.”

Now, these comments have provided quite a bit of head scratching for Tech fans. After all, how can an offense be too complicated when for the most part it doesn't appear that there is one? Well, that's a gross oversimplification. The average fan is not going to be able to pick-up on the subtleties of the offense. Of course it's even more difficult in football, where the average fan understands very little of what should happen versus what did happen.

Having said that, it's difficult to truly understand what Coach Hewitt meant because there was no elaboration in the article. However, let me take a stab at it.

The first thing to know is the type of offense Coach Hewitt is trying to run - which happens to be a "motion offense". To understand the success and failure of our offense, you should understand what they are trying to accomplish. So let's talk about the basics of the motion offense. This is one of the most popular offensive schemes used in hoops today. It's a free-flowing, un-restrictive offensive. However, a better way to characterize it is to say that there is no pre-determined sequence of motion for either the player or the ball. Instead, players are taught to pass, screen and cut based on recognition of what the defense is doing.

However, putting all motion offenses into one bucket is kind of like saying all spread offenses in football are the same, and I think we know that's not close to true. There are motion offenses that rely more on cutting and those that rely more heavily on screeing. . However, there are some basic tenants of the motion offense that are common.

Rather than running set plays (which can also be run in the motion offense), players move within a basic set of rules. This allows for greater flexibility than just running set plays, and will usually be effective against any kind of defense, whether man-to-man, zone or "junk" defenses. Players can move freely to open areas on the court. Once the basic concepts are learned, special patterns or plays can be designed by the coach to take advantage of his team's offensive strengths.

Absorb that again - there are no set plays. There is no "you go here, and he goes there, then the pass goes there, he cuts that man, then you pass here for the open shot". There's none of that. Players have options. Players have to make decisions in a split second.

One of the keys of a motion offense is what coaches sometimes call "triple threat position". Perimeter players should always receive the ball in triple threat position, where the player has the options of shooting, driving to the hoop, or passing. In triple threat position, outside players should (1) look into the post, (2) read the defense and look for the opportunity for a shot, shot fake, or a dribble-move. Perimeter players should be patient and hold the ball for a count of two to allow the screens and cuts to develop. If the pass is too soon, the cutters don't have time to execute their cuts. The exception is when the defense is coming to trap, then pass immediately.

Ok, so what we have is a free-flowing offense without any set plays. Players have a set of rules to follow............... Do not stay in one place for more than 2-3 seconds............ Stay 12-15 feet away from your teammates...... Get in triple threat position, etc.......... Make your cuts............ Make your ball-screens, etc................. It's all about recognition.

It is the decision-making aspect that I think is the key to Coach Hewitt's comments on "complexity". This has to do with basketball IQ. A QB's most important traits are decision-making and accuracy. While a PG is the "QB" of the basketball team, it's a little different when every player on the floor has the ball in their hands on a regular basis and must make good decisions. In essence, they all take turns being a "QB". They must each make good decisions. They must each run through their set of options in a split second and make the right decision.

So how many choices does each player have? Is Coach Hewitt really saying that he's installed too many options for a player to consider in too short a period of time? Are these the types of things that work when you have a team full of juniors and seniors, but are very difficult when your team is led by underclassmen? I think it's a distinct possibility.

So what does "streamlining the offense" really mean? Not sure, but my guess is that it will have a lot to do with reducing the number of options that certain players will have at their disposal.

There are other aspects to consider with the motion offense
  • All your players should have decent ball handling skills. This was a real issue for the Jackets. After Javaris the ball handling ability of this team dropped off significantly. Too many of the guys are only average ball handlers and that hurts a motion offense. When you run set plays you can isolate certain guys so they don't have to handle the ball. Not so much with a motion offense.
  • Motion offenses typically take longer to develop in the half court set. That is why you don't generally see them in the NBA with the 24 second shot clock. It takes time to work the passing, spacing, screening and create the open shot.
  • Motion offenses are more difficult to showcase your most talented players. Interesting point here, but when you are not running set plays for Thaddeus Young, that means Thad has to find his own offense within the flow of the play. When he has multiple decisions to make each time he gets the ball, and multiple people are not setting screens for him (a la JJ Reddik) then it means he'll often be giving up the ball. So could it be that overall, evenly spread talent is more important that one or two guys with meteoric talent? Could be. Just look at our National Championship run. A very balanced tema. All of us still wonder why we couldn't do anything with Chris Bosh and yet we went to the NCAA final without him - maybe we have our answer.
  • Successful motion offenses are predicated on spacing an movement. There are times when our guys stop moving. That is the death wish for motion offenses.
  • Another interesting point - each player must clearly understand his shooting range. If a player moves around the floor and recieves a pass outside his range, now he's no longer a triple threat. He needs to understand where on the floor he can hit 50% of his open shots. At times this can cause significant problems for a team.
  • Coaches have a decent level of flexibility to custom-design their motion offense to fit the particular personnel on the team. In other words, they can establish different rule sets for different players based on their strengths / weaknesses. This is different from highlighting a super talented kid as mentioned above.
  • Here's another question that I wonder about - the number of people in the regular rotation. One element I do not understand is how important chemistry and familiarity plays in this. How important is it for players to have a "feel" for what their mates are going to do? How much do players develop a sense of what certain guys are going to do and how does that impact the offense? How is this impacted by "Hotel Hewitt"? I'm not saying it's a problem or not, but if gaining familiarity with guys on the floor is important, it seems thatit would be more difficult when the rotation is constantly chaning.

For a couple of interesting animations explaining the motion offense, check out these:

Blue Eagle Motion Offense Animation and Coach's Clipboard Motion Offense Animation

Just watching those animations should truly give you an appreciation of the constant decision-making going on in this scheme. I will tell you what it has convinced me - that talent is not the issue on this team. Ball handling is an issue, effort and movement are an issue, IQ is an issue, and decision-making is an issue. Hopefully you find this helpful.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Welcome to my debut post

I thank Scott for allowing me to post, and to link to Please take a look at some of my posts from over there, let me know what you think. I hope this debut post is more like Kenny Anderson's debut against the Russian national team as a freshman than to Bobby Sprowl's debut (for you non-Red Sox fans, google Bobby Sprowl Red Sox and 1978 and see what you get).

Most of the posts and numbers that I put together compares Georgia Tech versus other ACC teams, and against the other 65 BCS schools. The best comparisons come when you take out the rankings from mid-major dendrites like the Sun Belt conference.

Now that men's basketball season is over (by the way-kudos to the ladies-best GT team ever), let's take a look at one of GT's favorite lightning rods, Chan Gailey. I will admit that after his first season at Tech, I wanted to run him out on a rail. That team blatantly quit twice that season at Maryland and at UGA, and it was two more times than the entire George O'Leary tenure.

However, as time progressed, I've warmed to him, mainly because of the talent he has brought here. You'll see more draft picks from this year and last year's classes than any other back to back classes in the last 20 years.

One of the stats that I take a look at when measuring coaches is quality wins.

These are standings based solely upon each team's performance against "quality opponents" – that is, against BCS teams with winning records. Strip away the opponents of games played against tomato cans, and you get a much clearer picture of the true nature of a team. Quality Standings are more important than overall standings because every year there are teams that have 5 or 6 Peter McNeely’s to fatten up their record.

The program became Chan Gailey's program and no longer George O'Leary's program in Gailey's third year. This was when there were more starters that Gailey recruited than O'Leary. During the last 3 seasons Georgia Tech went 9-14 against quality opponents.

How does that rank against other ACC schools? We'll compare against other schools in the ACC where the head coach has been at their school for 5 years, which knocks out Duke. Let's take a look:

Virginia Tech 15-7
Boston College 10-6
Miami* 12-11
Clemson 10-11
Florida State 9-11
Virginia 8-11
Georgia Tech 9-14
Wake Forest 7-13
North Carolina State* 4-13
Maryland 5-15
North Carolina* 5-18

* - "YOU'RE FIIRED!!! (Insert Vince McMahon voice here)

What does this tell us? One, watch out for NC State in three years, and two GT needs to do better than 3-5 like they did last year. Can they? Time will tell.

Next week we'll compare GT to all 66 BCS teams in this category.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Where are they now - Patrick Nix

Look, I know that when you hire a new offensive coordinator, you need to spin things the right way. But sometimes you just have to scratch your head a little bit. Who am I talking about? Actually, I'm talking about Miami's new OC - Patrick Nix. Check out the comments by new Miami head coach Randy Shannon:

After a long drawn out search for an offensive coordinator, what was it about Nix that made you believe he can fix the numerous problems on offense?

Randy Shannon: "I looked at how Georgia Tech was scoring points. I don't look at yardage. I've been in games at Miami as a player and as a coach where we've had 500 yards of offense, 200 yards rushing, 300 yards passing, but we only scored 10 points. The biggest thing I'm looking at is scoring points and that's what he was doing everywhere he's been as a player and coach. What really caught my eye was what he did when Reggie Ball got suspended. He brought in a freshman that hardly played all season and they scored 35 points. I also notice he'd done a good job with quarterbacks. That was the biggest thing with me. I needed to find an offensive coordinator that does a great job with quarterbacks. To me that was the key to rebuilding this offense. If a guy can coach the quarterback then he knows exactly what the quarterback wants to do and should be doing. What are his reads? what he can, and can not do. Him being a quarterback himself, winning 12 games at Auburn, being a winner, I saw a lot of potential in him."

Ok, first of all, when Reggie got suspended we didn't bring in a freshman. We brought in a redshirt sophomore who's been the #2 guy for 3 years now.

I also notice he'd (Nix) done a good job with quarterbacks.
Ok, what exactly are you noticing? Reggie's career was marked by slow improvement from widly inconsistent to "reducing mistakes" to monstrous flare-out at the end. Frankly, Reggie is the only QB you've been able to see from the Nix era since he was the only one really taking snaps.

Look, I don't want to bash Coach Nix. It's clear he helped our offense. It's clear we scored a few more points a game with him calling the plays. It's clear he still has a lot of potential as a coach. But I'm not buying what Shannon is selling here. Just because Miami lost to GT 2 years running doesn't mean he should put the blinders on to the reality of QB play the past few seasons at GT. Now, if Bennett comes in and sets the world on fire, then Nix at least gets some piece of credit for developing him over the years. But he never developed Bennett to a level that he could overtake the wildy erratic Reggie. That in-and-of-itself just makes you wonder.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Welcome A New Voice to the Blog

While yesterday was a disappointment for Jacket nation, today is a new day, and with new days come new things to look forward to. With that in mind, I want to introduce to you a new blogging partner - Lennie Mac......... Lennie is a Tech grad, class of 1993, Civil Engineering. Right now he resides in a suburb north of Boston, but remains a diehard Techie through and through.

Lennie recently started his own Tech 'blog - - but I got lucky and convinced him to be a regular contributor here on the #1 GT Sports Blog in the world (ok, a little self-embellishment). Lennie will add a ton of flavor to the Blog. Why? Well, here are some reasons:

  1. Lennie is a sports junkie and trivia fanatic. Anyone ever seen that ESPN Show "Stump the Schwab" ? Well, Lennie was so good, he managed to get picked as a contestant. While he didn't win, he will go on record that he was duped - per Lennie - "For the record, it was rigged, my buzzer didn't work". I imagine it was like watching those Jeopardy contestants sit there are click / click / click their hand-buzzers over and over and over. Folks, let me assure you - Lennie is the keeper of thousands of useless sports facts. I am just happy to be able to give him an audience for them.
  2. Lennie has a sense of humor. While I do have a sense of humor, I have tended to walk the straight-and-narrow a bit too much on the blog. We could use a little more sarcasm and humor around here. After the ups-and-downs of the last year of my life, this will be a good thing. Tech fans tend to take their sports a little too seriously. Time to lighten up.
  3. Lennie believes in the motto - "Just the facts". As you can see on his Blog, he is a guy who delves into statistics, formulas, facts - and uses that information to draw realistic and sobering conclusions. I think you'll like that type of insight here on the Blog.
  4. Lennie's going to call it like he sees it. There is no doubt that as Lennie puts it when describing me - "you tend to be a cup half full kind of guy". That is true, but half the time it's because I'm trying to prevent needless player bashing by all the die-hards. I want the blog to be a GT-positive site. I don't mind saying Reggie's not getting it done, then backing it up with facts, but I am not interested in saying that he couldn't throw seeds into a starving bird's mouth (even if it's true) ...................... Lennie will be brutally honest, but with a context. I think you'll like that too.
  5. Lennie cares about Georgia Tech. The fact is that most people visiting here have a deep-seated love for the Jackets. Lennie is no different. Lennie sent me a note describing the greatest GT victories that he has seen in person.

1. GT beating UGA in Athens 21-19 - Brad Chambers can and will do many great things in his life, the first sentence in his obituary 50 years from now will be "the man who kicked the game winning FG to beat UGA in Athens."
2. GT beating Duke at AMC, snapping Duke's 20 something winning streak. I especially liked when Bobby Hurley ran into Malcolm Mackey, it was like Wile E. Coyote running into a rock. To think some said Mackey was soft.
3. GT beating Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl. I got rejected by Notre Dame and I dreamed of the day when we would compete and beat Notre Dame in a New Year's Day bowl. January 1, 1999 was that day.

Also, I have watched GT beat UVA in 1990: approximately 60-70 times.

So stay on the lookout for Lennie's columns. We welcome him with open arms and hopefully you will appreciate the addition of another voice in the main column. Welcome aboard Lennie!!!!!

Where are they now - Jarrett Jack / Luke Schenscher

Well, time for a family reunion. How about Jarrett Jack and Luke Schenscher teaming up once again? For the next 10 days at minimum it's going to happen. Our man Luke just signed a 10-day contract with the Blazers. Here's more on the story. Now you have even more reason to follow the Blazers !!


Friday, March 16, 2007

The Season is Over..........

The season is over. In what could be described as a major season ending fizzle, the Jackets once again prove that they don't know how to close in the closing minutes. They lose to UNLV 67-63.................. and just like that there is no more basketball.

The bitter disappointment of this is deeper than you know. A bunch of buddies of mine have tickets to the St.Louis regional next weekend. We were holding out that oh so small glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe the Jackets could make it there. But before I even had a chance to feed that hope, the lights go out.

How does a team play a first half as ugly as the Jackets and only trail by 7 at the half. Frankly, I don't get it. When Mario West, Z.Peacock, De'Andre Bell and Alade Aminu are your leading scorers at the half, you know something is drastically wrong. Javaris looked totally lost. Young was forcing things way too much. The offense looked totally lost. We only had a small handful of assists. Every pass was like an adventure. The only real success we had was in the post, and we seemed to forget that for much of the half. There was no leadership on the floor. We were actually outrebounded on both the defensive and offensive glass by a VERY undersized team.

Adjustments were made. We somehow pulled to within 7 at the half, and then we managed to tie the game early in the 2nd. Then it was see saw, back-and-forth for awhile. Javaris found himself, gained some confidence, A-Mo found his stroke....................... then we continued to forget how to rebound. We had another offensive series of lapses and UNLV went up by 7 pts......... but again the Jackets battled back and took the lead for the first time with 3:26 left................... only to give it up again with a shot clock violation and giving up a layup............. then they used their last timeout with 2:39 left............... Jeremis Smith missed free throw, but then tied it again at 59 ...................... Then UNLV missed 3 consecutive shots after getting 3 consecutive offensive rebounds........... and on the 4th try - a layup and 3pt play.............COME ON!!!!!!!!!!! COULD I POSSIBLY GET MORE FRUSTRATED!!!!!!!!! AAAAAAHHHH!!!!!!.........

Oh wait............. I CAN GET MORE FRUSTRATED................... JAVARIS, how about you DRIBBLE AROUND AND AROUAND AND AROUND AND AROUND AND AROUND AND AROUND AND AROUND AND AROUND AND AROUND AND AROUND AND GET A 5 SECOND CALL................... Why don't you do that.................. Oh wait - YOU DID!!!

I'm calm now. Oh wait, UNLV just got 3 MORE CHANCES AND GETS FOULED AND HIT 2 MORE FREE THROWS.................... 4 point lead with 36 seconds to go.

....................... and that was all she wrote.

Hey Javaris - don't take my rant personally. The bottom-line is that we're not even in the tourney without you................. it just a frustration factor with the talent level that we all know is there.

2006 / 2007 R.I.P.
I just don't know what to say to be honest. While this team improved during the season, the bottom line is that this season was a major disappointment. Progress - yes....... Satisfaction - not even close............. A strong finish to the regular season only to bow out of the ACC tourney against one of the worst teams in the league and then a loss in round 1 of the tourney in a winnable game. Outrebounded by a weak rebounding team. You hold a team to 32% shooting and you think you just might win. Not us. If the game is close and we're not at home - we're losing - and we did.

At some point, I'll do a post-mordem on the season. For now, I'm just going to focus on something else because I'll just get incredibly frustrated again.

Now, having expressed my frustration, I want to temper yours. Please don't start making stupid comments about getting a new coach. We don't need a new coach. We may need some new offensive schemes. We may need a new off-season training regimine. We may need a new approach to X's / O's. I'm not totally sure what we need, but I'm darn sure it's not a new coach. However, I do expect Coach Hewitt to make adjustments to improve the team next year. Some of that will happen through their experience. However, I find it funny as I type this - but he needs to take a page from Coach Gailey's book. Coach Gailey has upgraded his staff, upgraded his training, upgraded his offense and upgraded his recruiting........ you get the point. While we've been frustrated at times with Coach Gailey, he has made steady improvement in a lot of areas and it shows............. Coach Hewitt has clearly upgraded his recruiting - but that's about it. There needs to be something different, something new. He's got the talent. Now he needs a better gameplan. I am a big Paul Hewitt supporter but we should absolutely do better than this.

So there it is. The next round of discussions will be the "will he stay or will he go" discussions for Thaddeus Young and Javaris Crittenton. Right now, I peg the odds of TY staying as about 25% and Javaris about 75% to stay.

Now, let's not start this talk of how good we'll be next year with the additions of Gani Lawal, Mo Miller and Lance Storrs and getting Clinch back - if we only lose West. Know why - only 5 guys can play at once. Incredible depth helps to provide a little additional competition and helps to absorb injuries and academic casualties over the course of a season, but it doesn't help to create a fluid offense or defensive intensity. the coach has to develop a game-plan for those 5 guys and then those 5 guys on the floor have to make it happen.

Coach Hewitt said he would never get caught again by the Jarrett Jack / Austin Jackson / Buck Fredrick PG recruiting situation. He made good on that promise by signing Mo Miller, a very promising PG, who will come in with Javaris only a sophomore. Now we need something different related to X's & O's. Something about developing schemes and sets that utilize the strengths of the players on the floor. We just don't do that with any consistency. Something that allows us to actually have a timeout left before the 10:00 minute mark. Again, I don't know what it is, but then I don't get paid big bucks to figure it out either.

Lastly, I wanted to send a major shout out to Mario West. Rio, you made us proud. You showed us all what it REALLY means to be a student-athlete. Thanks for your example, your hard work, all those steals and highlights. You da man !!!! All the best in the future.

On the Eve of Tech's Madness.............

So it's Thursday night. I've been traveling all week visiting customers in Louisville and Cleveland. I fly back to Greenville in the morning and I finally have a few minutes to breath and offer some thoughts about the tourney and Tech's chances of advancing. Here are some random musings:

  • Have you noticed that Tech is probably the most popular "upset" / "underdog" pick on the bracket? Even Vegas oddsmakers have pegged GT as a 1.5 pt favorite. So how do you feel about that? Even master stat-man Ken Pomeroy has picked GT to go to the Final Four. Read his logic here.
  • Why Tech could make a run - well, Tech has 2 super-freshman who will play in the NBA one day (probably soon). We have a fantastic PG who is a crunch time winner. We have a good mix of wing players, inside talent, overall athleticism, depth, shooters. We rebound VERY well. When we play defense, we are very effective, with one of the best steal ratios in the nation. On the surface there's a lot to like about Tech.
  • Why Tech could bow out quickly - well, Tech is relying on 2 super freshman, one of which plays the most important position on the floor - PG. He's good, but he's not experiencedNCAA tourney's are won by teams dominated by experience. UNLV has a LOT more it, as they start 4 seniors............. NCAA tourney teams are typically won by teams that protect the ball, have great backcourts, play tough and consistent defense. Tech does not have much real playing post-season experience. At times this year Tech has been plagued with turnovers (although they seem to have tightend up). Mario is the experiences one here and is going to have to step up and help mentally prepare these guys. Tech can absolutely NOT be called consistent. While we finished the season strong, we've been all over the board on our offensive and defensive play.
  • So what are the keys to the UNLV game? First - Tech must absolutely defend on the perimeter. If the Rebs get going from outside it's going to be a long day. Remember, Wake Forest hit 16-23 3pt shots. Frankly I am not sure why we were even close in that game. If we can contest 3pt shots, we might just be ok Friday. This is priority #1, and frankly I'm concerned about our ability to defend the perimeter. Good passing teams tend to be able make that extra pass, get our help defenders out of position, and get very good open uncontested shots................. Second, Tech must clean up the glass. Do not let this team get any offensive boards. Put a body on every man and limit them to one shot................. Third, protect the ball. UNLV is not going to turn the ball over very much, and that means we will not get too many extra possessions. As a result, we better not give them many extra ones either......................... Fourth, we need to have a lot of assists. UNLV has one of the best shot-blockers in the nation, and making the extra pass will be important. I doubt we will be successful if the gameplan is to let Javaris dribble up court, never pass the ball, dribble penetrate and create some kind of shot for himself. The dribble-penetrate-and-dish on the other hand just might work. I'm a little out on a limb on the last one, but it seems to make sense to me.
  • So did any of you happen to catch "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central last night. He gave his tips on picking a winning bracket. Tip #1 started by showing the GT Buzz logo, VaTech and Texas Tech logo's and he proceeded to say "Never pick a school with 'Tech' in their name - because Tech means nerds, and nerds don't play good basketball. It's hard to block a shot with a solar powered calculator. See the actual video right here:

Kenny Anderson, recalling the 1990 GT / UNLV match-up, had this to say about players going pro early and missing out on college life:

"It's too bad, because that whole March throughout the NCAA tournament was the highlight of my life," Anderson said. "I wouldn't trade that for anything. That whole March was March madness for me."

Check out this slam on lewis Clinch in a NY Times article about players with the jersey number "0" or "00".

At least 20 tournament teams have had a player in the program this season with jersey No. 0 or No. 00. They include top seeds (Kansas’ Darrell Arthur), bottom seeds (Jackson State’s Marcus Jones) and bad seeds (Georgia Tech’s Lewis Clinch, who was suspended for the season for violating university policy).

I'll leave you with one last match-up comparison from this blog:

The Georgia Institute of Technology
Motto: “Progress and Service”
Mascot: Buzz the Yellow Jacket
Notable Alums: Jimmy Carter, Jason Varitek, Jeff Foxworthy, (the) Bobby Jones, Mark Price, Kevin Brown, Sam Nunn, Ken Whisenhunt, Vern Yip, Stewart Cink, Nomar Garciaparra, Ed Dodd, John Salley, Keith Brooking, Kenny Anderson, Stephon Marbury, Dennis Scott, Mark Teixeira, David Duval
Interesting Fact: Tech's fight song “I'm a Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech” is known worldwide. It was adapted from an old drinking song (“Son of a Gambolier”), and embellished with trumpet flourishes by Frank Roman. In 1959, then VP Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev sang it together when they had their famous cold war confrontation in Moscow, to reduce the tension. Nixon didn't know any Russian songs, but Khrushchev knew that one American one. It was sung on the Ed Sullivan show; it was played in space; Gregory Peck sang it while strumming a ukulele in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit; John Wayne whistled it in The High and the Mighty. It is played after every Georgia Tech score in a football game.


University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Established: 1957
Motto: “What happens at UNLV stays at UNLV” (I don’t know; they don’t seem to have one.)
Mascot: Hey Reb the Rebel
Notable Alums: Ickey Woods, Jimmy Kimmel, Larry Johnson, Suge Knight, Randall Cunningham, Todd Stottlemyre, Ashlyn Gere, Adam Scott, J.R. Rider, Reggie Theus, Kenny Mayne, Shawn Marion, Keenan McCardell, Anthony E. Zuiker
Interesting Fact: In 2003, Gladys Knight recorded the majority of her recent Grammy-winning album on the UNLV campus.

Whitney’s Pick: 50 years of history, no motto, a nonsensical mascot name, Suge Knight, and J.R. Rider. Jerry Tarkanian was a friggin’ genius.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Revisiting History - Part XVI

Revisiting History - Part XV

Revisiting History - Part XIV

Revisiting History - Part XIII

Revisiting History - Part XII

Revisiting History - Part XI

Revisiting History - Part X

Revisiting History - Part IX

Revisiting History - Part VIII

Revisiting History - Part VII

Revisiting History - Part VI

Revisiting History - Part V

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Revisiting History - Part IV

Revisiting History - Part III

Where are they now - Jonathan Garner

Well, he's still here for now, but he's officially headed to Marshall. We wish you the best JG. Sorry things didn't work out here. Hope you pull an Andy Hall and hit it big. All the best.

Revisiting History - Part II

More from 1990 and that famous GT / UNLV match-up.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Revisiting History - Part I

First in a series of videos posted by PossePartner over at the Hive.

Where are they now - Matt Murton

A nice write-up on the former Jacket with statistical breakdowns................. don't forget little bro Luke now reps the Jackets.

Murton is a prime example as to how those “throw-ins” can sometimes end up as major steals in trades. Though Garciaparra was considered the crown gem the Cubs acquired on July 31st, 2004, it’s looking more and more like Matt Murton will eventually be the most valuable asset the acquire by the Cubs in that trade.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hoops - Jackets Make Field

So the Jackets make the field of 65 and will be "re-matched" against UNLV, rekindling memories of that famous 90/91 season. It will be a Friday game in Chicago. The Jackets get the 10-seed with UNLV a 7-seed. Truthfully, UNLV is a tough team. In fact, if you look at all the bracketology experts, nobody picked them wBlogger: Georgia Tech Sports Blog - Create Postorse than a 6-seed and almost every online bracket projection had them as a 4-seed, with a few at a 5-seed. So Tech will have their hands full.

Here's what we know:
Record 28-6
Mountain West Champions
RPI - #10 by Ken Pomeroy (GT #52)
Strength of Schedule #37 (GT #41)
Statistical Scouting Report

Kevin Kruger is the key, a senior Guard that was hampered by injuries early in the season, but seems to be running on all cylinders now.

1Jo'Van 'Wink' Adams3414.315739639.611214975.26016735.9
5Wendell White3214.219037450.87411365.51156.7
2Kevin Kruger2813.610926541.189106847420336.5
52Gaston Essengue347.610719854466175.4---
3Michael Umeh327.37919640.3344673.94311836.4
45Joe Darger316.05714040.7303683.3439943.4
30Joel Anthony345.47512460.5325261.5---
31Curtis Terry344.65214236.6243275288234.1
15Corey Bailey303.1386459.492339.181361.5
24Rene Rougeau221.7172860.74850-1-
-Efrem Lawrence21.51425---11100
20Marcus Lawrence341.5186030143046.721513.3
34Matt Shaw191.572231.8131872.21250
10Scott Hoffman31.01333.3---1333.3
Last Updated: Sun Mar 11 08:47:34 EDT 2007

UNLV is a very intense defensive team and will pressure Tech and get in our face................. More later.................

Saturday, March 10, 2007

In or Out?

So what's it going to be? In or out? Are the Jackets going to the big dance? I'll tell you this - if NCST wins the ACC tourney, it's going to make things VERY difficult for the selection committee.............. Virtually all of the bracket "experts" have GT "in", although most have us in their last 5 or so "in".

What do you think? Are the Jackets in? Personally, I believe the answer is yes, but barely. We'll just have to sweat it out for another day.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Future Jackets Play for State Titles

A tip from RamblinRed on two future Jackets:

Gani Lawal and Norcross take on Centennial HS at 8:45 pm for the Class 5A state championship and Lance Storrs and Columbia take on Tucker for the Class 4A State Championship at 4:45 pm.

Both would be repeat champions.

Both games will be televised live by Georgia Public Television and can be streamed at

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Hoops - Absolutely Epic

The drama........... oh, the drama............. In what can only be described as an epic battle, the Jackets fall OOOOOHHHHH so short in a double-overtime heartbreaker 114-112. Anthony Morrow made the clutch 3pt shot to send it into double OT, but couldn't knock down the open 2 pt shot to send it to a 3rd OT. While I want to do nothing but tip my cap to 2 teams that played their guts out, I'm just tired and frustrated that once again the Jackets fail to win against a team they should beat - and it happens to NOT be at home again. ................... I'm frustrated that we had a mediocre regular season and now we're out in round 1 of the ACC tourney.

You're up by 2 with a less than a minute and have the ball and then it's 22.7 seconds and you're down by 3. CAN SOMEONE PLEASE GUARD HARVEY HALE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HE'S STILL SHOOTING AND HE HASN'T MISSED YET!!!!! The dude scored 21 of his 22 points in OT. COME ON!!!! GUARD A GUY PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Uhm, also, Wake was 16-23 from behind the arc. That's just plain sick........... and Hale was the sickest of them all.......... and the Jackets can now get plenty of rest because they're going home.

So, did the late night waiting game impact these teams? It's probably safe to say yes based on the 1st half. It's tough to hang around all day and then have to start at 9:30 after an overtime game. When these teams combined for 29 turnovers in the first half, you have to think it's not all just great defense. But things sure changed in the 2nd half.........................

So how many minutes can one team dribble around the perimeter? How long can one guy dribble around without passing? Obviously that is what Coach Hewitt wanted to find out in the first half, because they did it over and over and over. Wake put big guys on JC and guess what - they muscled him up and kept him out high most of the time. When he wasn't dribbling, Mario West was doing an admirable job of carrying out the same plan. I think the key 1st half number was 4 team assists against 15 buckets, and throw in 13 turnovers - and the Jackets were outrebounded in the half as well.............. The only real savior for the Jackets was 17 1st half turnovers by Wake. Sloppy, sloppy and very sloppy. The Jackets played active defensively but there were a number of breakdowns that led to easy buckets.

All-in-all this cannot be classified as a defensive powerhouse game, as Wake shot a blistering 64% for the game, 70% from behind the arc, and incredibly enough only 63% from the stripe. Go figure. The Jackets shot 56% for the game, and 53% from behind the arc. I give Wake all the credit in the world.

Uhhmmm. Ok guys. When you get the ball in the backcourt and it's your job to dribble up court and you see two guys getting ready to trap you, how about NOT dribbling right up to them? Because you know........... you get trapped. I counted about 5 different times in the first half when our guys did that. Luckily they figured things out a little better in the 2nd half.

How many stinkin 3pt shots can one team make? Well, it's directly proportional to the number of wide open ones they get. Wake shot better from long distance than from short range. And darn if they didn't just light it up.............16-23 from long-distance. It's VERY hard to win when that happens.

Both teams had guys who stepped up and made plays at critical times, and both teams had guys who didn't make plays. In some cases it was the same guy at different times. There were too many key plays to count, but the bottom line is that Harvey Hale was the difference tonight. A-Mo was admirable hitting very key shots when it counted and JC was clutch at the end of the game, but Hale was the guy tonight who was the difference.

Sssssooooooo ya think Thad was a little upset at not making the all rookie ACC team? Maybe, maybe not. But he sure showcased why the Carolina-biased media doesn't know what they're doing. He ends the night with 30 pts on 10-19, 4 boards, 1 assist, 1 steal. However, he kind of faded into the background a bit at the end of the game. When that guy plays aggressive he's very good. He just has a tendency to disappear for stretches. But you can see what makes him special.

Could it be that Alade is going to become something special? Could it be that this was the year that he grew up and realized the responsibility that comes with being a student-athlete? If the later part of the season is any indication, the answer would be yes. Before fouling out, Alade had a superb game, with a career high 17 pts on 7-7 from the field. He also grabbed 8 boards, including 4 offensive ones. Throw in a couple of blocks and 2 steals and it was a nice night for the young man. I tell you what, he has some absolutely intriguing capabilities. Along with his length and athleticism, he has a knack for finding open space and he has a darn nice looking jump shot. Darn nice looking. He should be a serious bright spot next season.

I'm not sure you can really say any loss in the ACC is an upset. But today every lower seed in the ACC tourney won. Hopefully that will go a long way with the NCAA selection committee towards the Jackets getting a bid. But make no mistake - the Jackets are on the bubble. Do not assume they are a lock to get a bid - even though I put the odds somewhere around 75%. However, it's no longer in the team's hands.

So what will be written about this season? We won't know until the final shot is made by Tech. Odds are good it will be the big dance, but we will see. However, it is safe to say this was a disappointing regular season as once again Coach Hewitt's squad floated in the middle of the pack and had to finish strong to get there. It was a ride that saw the lows of a 4-game losing streak, the continued road losing streak (which was finally ended at FSU), and the huge loss of Lewis Clinch. However, it was also fun to watch the development of special talents in Javaris Crittenton and Thaddeus Young and see the potential of guys like Aminu and Peacock. Both JC and TY really stepped up their games towards the end of the season and it previews good things for next season.............................. if they're here of course...............

Bottom-line is that the regular season had some great highlights, but on the whole was disappointing because we didn't compete at the top and now the ACC tournament is disappointing because we're out in round 1. So what will the big dance bring? If we're in it, it's the last hurrah - the last chance to put a stamp on this campaign. Let's keep our fingers crossed that the selection committee doesn't have a huge problem with our road record.

However, with all that negative slant - kudos to the squad for continuing to battle back and never giving up. If you'd played 100% the whole game it may have ended differently. However, the season is not over....................

Stay focused............ keep you chin up............... and


Hoops - Commit for 2009 ????

Some weird reports out there that the Jackets received a commit from a kid out of Memphis from the class of 2009 - Ferrakohn Hall, a 6'7" small forward. However, it is not clear that this is a real commit. Hall appears to be a top 30 type of kid so maybe we'll hear some confirmation in the near future. There is no doubt that Coach Hewitt has made major in-roads in the hoops rich area of Memphis by pulling out Thaddeus Young and Mo Miller.

In general, Hall is being recruited as a small forward, although he almost exclusively plays inside with his high school team.

Hall pictured in white in the picture...............

Where are they now - Mike Mooney

I know I've been out of pocket, but I needed to bring up Mike Mooney. if you followed the Jackets during the Bobby Ross years, and particularly the 1990 National Championship run, then you probably remember Mike Mooney, a key offensive tackle. Well, is some incredibly sad news as Mike died in his sleep last week. He was 37 years old. Mooney was known as an all-around good guy who was well liked.

Mike is survived by 2 sons, 6 and 3 years old, and a daughter also 3, and a wife of 11 years. Jacket nation sends their best to the Mooney family. Jacket nation lost one of our own but Mooney certainly leaves a legacy on the field and at home.

Rest in peace Mr.Mooney, and our prayers go out to the Mooney family.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Hoops - Jackets Don't Let Up

Wow - the Jackets not only held serve by beating Boston College, they did it with a killer instinct. This team put the petal to the metal and didn't let up, beating BC by a final of 74-60. In doing so, it's safe to say this team has punched their ticket to the dance. In addition, with Duke's loss to UNC, Tech will now hold the 6th seed in the ACC tourney, shifting Duke down to #7.................. .500 in the ACC...................... 20 wins........................... there's so much to enjoy about today.

Once again pounding the glass is critical to the victory as BC only had 3 offensive boards, and they grab 13 of their own.

This team only had 9 turnovers today. Wow. That's impressive

Rio - you are a leader my friend. A guy who leads by example. It has been an absolute joy to watch you play. It is the Mario West's and PJ Daniels' of the world that I personally root for. You were a guy who came here as a walk-on, earned a scholly, are leaving with a degree, and have managed to be in the middle of every win this season. Thanks for the memories........... but how about leaving us with a few more. You are the last link to that magical 2004 NCAA run. Show these guys what it was all about.

Well, JC has continued to evevate his game - tonight dropping another 10 dimes to go with 16 pts and only 1 to. Folks, that's 21 assists in the past 2 games. That is some serious game. I'm sorry, but Brandon Wright does not deserve ROY - it's JC all the way. This team was 11-17 without him and now they're 20-10. He's the #1 reason why and has become the heart and soul of this team, along with Rio. There's already some underground buzz about the possibility of JC going league after one season. Let's not think about that until after the season, but it's clear he's got game.

So here it is - the final standings.

(End of Regular Season -- through March 4)
School Conference Overall
North Carolina 11-5 25-6
Virginia 11-5 20-9
Virginia Tech 10-6 20-10
Boston College 10-6 19-10
Maryland 10-6 24-7
Georgia Tech 8-8 20-10
Duke 8-8 22-9
Clemson 7-9 21-9
Florida State 7-9 19-11
NC State 5-11 15-14
Wake Forest 5-11 14-15
Miami 4-12 11-19

A team that started 2-6 in the league finishes 6-2. Very impressive. Another 20 win season for Coach Hewitt. While he has yet to breakthrough with that one dominant ACC season, he once again has his squad playing their best ball at the right time. Which leads us to...............

Ok - so here it comes - Thursday night 9:00pm - Jackets vs Wake Forest. It will be the nightcap game Here's the full line-up

Get your pom poms ready. because it's time to rock'n'roll. Beat Wake and VaTech is next. Beat them and it's either Duke, NCST or UVA. Let's take them one at a time.

Congratulations to the team on a very respectable regular season. You fought hard. You dug deep to find that spirit and passion that it takes to compete and win. It was a rough year again on the road but the monkey moved on to someone else's shoulders. You've proven you can play with anybody anywhere. Keep up the intensity. Keep up the passion...... and keep smiliing


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Take a Breath Please...

Wow. What a heart-ripper of a game, but this time the heart is left to beat another day. The Jackets pull out an amazing effort and take down the Tarheels 84-77. It was a whirling dervish is lights out shooting, fast breaks and physical pounding in the paint.

The boards were critical tonight as they hold the Tarheels to only 9 offensive boards and the Jackets grab 13 of their own. It was a true team effort as nobody had more than 6 but 7 guys had 3 or more. Truly outstanding effort on the glass. It made the difference considering the Heels are an outstanding rebounding team.

The defense was in fact tenacious. The Tarheels shot 48% from the field and 21% from long distance. There were a number of clear breakdowns but that happens when you play UNC. The Jackets grabbed 9 steals and really made it hard for the Tarheels most of the night. I think the optimal word was physical and/or toughness. We played hardball.......... clean.......... but hard............. and I liked it. We weren't going to be pushed around.

The Jackets were clearly on fire. They shoot 51.6% overall, 45% from 3pt range. In the first half they shot over 60% and there was one stretch where they just couldn't miss.

Thaddeus Young an amazing game, taking the initiative many times - scoring 25 pts (10-18, 5-6). grabbed 4 boards, 1 assist, 3 steals, 2 to's.................... Javaris Crittenton had a double/double with 13 pts and 11 assists, with 3 boards, 2 steals, 5 to's....................... Anthony Morrow was the other guy on fire, lighting up the perimeter for 18 pts (6-12, 4-10), along with 3 boards, 1 assist, 3 to's......................

Jeremis Smith gets the nod here - as he was an enforcer as usual. He only scored 2 pts and he did foul out, but he did grab 6 boards, 1 block, 2 assists, 2 steals and did a nice defensive job on numerous guys.

Many will say we're in the dance. I say it gives us a 50/50 shot of getting in. Win our next game and it's a no-brainer. Lose to BC and we better get to work in the ACC Tourney.

Just a fanstastic effort tonight by the team. I told many of you to have hope and some level of faith in Coach Hewitt. His teams generally have higher winning percentages the further you go in the season, so why should this season be different. They're playing good ball at just the right time.

By the way, the ladies won game 1 of the ACC tourney tonight against Miami!!!!!!! Great job!!!