Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Hoops Developments

Two interesting developments worth mentioning in the hoops program.

1. Brad Sheehan will redshirt.

This was not unexpected. While Sheehan is widely regarded as having a stronger skill-set than Luke Schenscher at the same age, his real weakness is his physical strength:

"Brad has demonstrated a high level of skill and athletic ability during pre-season practice," Hewitt said Tuesday. "We both feel that with increased strength, he will be a major contributor to this program in the 2007-08 season."
There is no doubt that a guy needs to be able to bang underneath in the ACC and Brad and Coach have decided that giving his body another year to develop is the right thing. Honestly, this is a long-term move for both Brad and the program. This is looking to the future. We know that big men typically develop later than others. Pushing a big man's career out another year can have tremendous benefits.

Coach Hewitt has mentioned on more than one occasion that Jeremis Smith should have redshirted the season he hurt his knee and that Alade Aminu really should have redshirted last season. However, this is a fine line for Coach Hewitt to walk. Think about it. Coach is out on the recruiting trail trying to attract the top talent in the nation. While he doesn't promise playing time, kids want to go where they can play right away. Kids don't want to be shoved to the bench. He's trying to balance out super-recruits like Thaddeus Young, who might stay only one season, with a strong base of 3-4 year players. This builds continuity and stability. You can only afford to get a Thad Young or Chris Bosh if you have a group of BJ Elder's, Isma'il Muhammads or Jeremis Smith's and Ra'Sean Dickey's. However, these days, if you're in a college program 3-4 years, a lot of the top kids think you must not be that much of a player. What's wrong with you? So take that mentality and start asking kids to actually redshirt. Take a year off? Are you kidding me? Hoops is so different from football in that regard. First, it's not that often that you have an opportunity like this in the first place - being able to afford sitting a 7 footer for a season. Then actually convincing the kid to do it - when he's dreaming of going to the NBA is 2-3 years anyhow. Oh yeah, by the way, we're asking you to take a season off with one of our best chances to go deep with guys like Thad Young and Javaris Crittenton. I suspect that Mouhammad Faye's season off due to academic credit issues provided an interesting case for Coach to use to show his development. Just guessing, but I'll bet that played a role.

Regardless of the challenges of getting a kid to redshirt, in this case it really seems to be the right thing to do - FOR BRAD SHEEHAN. Would another season at Georgia Tech have helped Luke Schenscher latch on in the NBA more effectively than he has? Maybe so. I respect Brad Sheehan for making this sacrifice even though he will benefit in the long run. You have to be willing to swallow your pride a bit and that's hard for a young man.

As for Coach Hewitt, there is one less question-mark of how to distribute minutes. But as we know, once the season starts, the minutes really start tightening up. The reality is that Brad Sheehan would have probably averaged less than 3 minutes a game and with ACC games probably none at all. As it is, Coach still has challenges to figure out the distribution between Ra'Sean Dickey, Alade Aminu, Zach Peacock and maybe Mouhammad Faye. Which brings us to our 2nd topic...........................

2. Zach Peacock will start the opener in place of Ra'Sean Dickey
Now, this is a bit controversial if you ask me. Here's what Coach Hewitt had to say:

The 6-foot-7 Peacock has impressed Hewitt with his interior defense and tenaciousness as a rebounder. Peacock beat out returning starter Ra'Sean Dickey for the starting center job.

"This is not a ploy to motivate Ra'Sean," Hewitt said.

Hhhhhhmmmmm. I find this very interesting. Quite frankly I'm not sure what to make of it. I don't think there is a doubt in the world that Ra'Sean Dickey is the better offensive player. Heck, he might be the best offensive player on the team. He's certainly shown flashes of that, with brilliant post moves and footwork in addition to a nice face-up jumper out of 18 feet. However, his defensive prowess has always been more up and down than this offense.
Coach Hewitt teams, at least the better ones, are known for their defense. If this team is going to get back to the top, they're going to have to improve the defense.

So in comes Zach Peacock. Zach has a man's body already. There isn't a redshirt big enough to contain his man-size shoulders. He's built like a college senior already. However, he's certainly not a 7-footer. It's generous to say he's 6'8" as listed on the roster. However, he does have a wide wingspan, which Coach really likes. I don't think Zach is going to wow anyone with his offensive skill set when compared Dickey. Even athletically he's not a guy known for playing above the rim. However, he is known for his motor. He's a banger, a lunch-pail guy. He takes up space. And to be fair, at least one recruiting guru has said he underrated Peacock's offensive prowess. So maybe there is something there.

Coach Hewitt said he is impressed with Zach's interior defense and rebounding. I think that about says it all. Coach Hewitt believes in defense and rebounding as the #1 and #2 priorities of a team. The offense comes later. Zach has impressed in #1 and #2. So there you have it. Throw in the fact that we have MANY more scoring options and the need for a score-first center is less important than someone who alters shots and takes up space defensively in the paint. Seriously, let me throw out some offensive options - Anthony Morrow, Javaris Crittenton, Thaddeus Young, Lewis Clinch, De'Andre Bell, Jeremis Smith, Mouhammad Faye. That's a lot of guys who can put the ball in the bucket from a lot of positions on the floor.

So, is Coach fibbing when he says this is not a ploy to motivate Ra'Sean? Truthfully, he's probably telling the truth. He's probably telling Ra'Sean - hey, Zach's defending better so he gets the nod. If you want to start in my system you know what you have to do. That's not some motivational ploy. That's just a coach with options. If Ra'Sean wants his spot back, he's going to have to earn it where it matters the most - defense and rebounding.

Want more proof - check this quote out

"It starts with defense," West said. "Defense is what got Georgia Tech to an ACC championship and the Final Four. We've got to get back to that."
That's your senior captain talking. Wonder where he got that idea from?

Having said all that, we must remember another Hewitt-ism........................ it's not who starts, it's who finishes.......... In that regard, my guess is that we'll see Ra'Sean Dickey end up with MORE minutes than Peacock as the season progresses. My guess is that Dickey will be seriously motivated to perform and he'll earn his way back. He's too good not too.

I do worry about the fact that a freshman is able to come in and earn a spot over a 3-year talented junior who's been through the ACC battles. That means three freshman have earned starting spots. I think it casts serious questions about the upperclassmen. These were definitely the foundation-building class that allowed Coach to go after a Thad Young. However, they were not hacks - they were top 100 talent, so it does raise questions about their development. Heck, it also raises questions about Alade Aminu's development. Obviously Peacock has shown something more than both Aminu and Dickey, even though it's acknolwedged that Aminu runs the floor better than anyone on the team.

Again, a Hewitt-ism............. The player who defends his position best will start............ there you have it ............. defense and rebounding rules........................ case closed............... unless Ra'Sean Dickey wants to appeal the case.................. the judge is waiting Ra'Sean......................