Hoops! Hoops hoops hoops. Herein we discuss the Georgia Tech sportsballsmen. Head on over to From The Rumble Seat to find my answers to some of their NC State basketball team.
BTP: Georgia Tech was picked 12th in the ACC this year--is that about right, or do you think the media is underrating the Jackets?
FTRS: I don’t expect Tech to be competing for an ACC championship this season, but I do think that 12th place is underrating the Jackets a little bit. Tech returns 75% of their minutes from last season an adds two big transfers in Bubba Parham and Jordan Usher. The Jackets return their leading scorer Jose Alvarado and all-ACC defensive center James Banks. Sophomore Mike Devoe, who made a pretty big impact as a four star freshman a season ago should take another step forward with an off-season of development. Junior Moses Wright broke out down the stretch last year, averaging 16 ppg over the final five games of the season. Put all this together and it’s hard to see this team finishing worse than last years 10th place finish.
BTP: How do you expect this team to respond to being banned from the NCAA tournament this season? It’s hard for me to imagine a more depressing thing that could happen to the players before a season even starts, but you still gotta play the games.
FTRS: Hard to say. From a fans perspective, it was devastating news. Will the team also take it in a negative manner or will it make them angry and give them even more motivation? It’s also worth noting that the decision is currently under appeal, which could potentially allow Tech to have postseason eligibility this season depending on the outcome of the appeal or how long it drags on.
BTP: Which Tech player has you most excited for their potential this season?
FTRS: It is very hard to answer this question. Jose Alvarado has been a fan favorite since his first game at Tech due to the passion he brings each and every night. He was the Jackets leading scorer last season and could very well do it again. James Banks has a real chance at ACC defensive player of the year if he can build upon on his 2.5 blocks per game last season. Mike Devoe improved more and more as the season went on last year and I would not be remotely shocked to see him lead this team in scoring if his confidence rises to a level which matches his talent. Transfer Bubba Parham led the SoCon in scoring last year with 21.4 ppg and is a lights out shooter who can take over a game. Transfer Jordan Usher may be the most talented all around player on the team. He is super athletic and can score at the rim, rebound, pass, shoot, and defend. Tech has a lot of talented players and I’m excited to see how they all mesh together this year.
BTP: The offense has been a consistent problem during Josh Pastner’s tenure in Atlanta. What are the keys for Georgia Tech to improve on that side of the floor?
FTRS: Actually, I just wrote an article about this last week. However, if you don’t want to read the whole article, here are the keys I identified for why Tech will be improved offensively this season. Transfer Bubba Parham should provide an offensive spark with his shooting ability. Transfer Jordan Usher should provide a physical presence that can get to the rim as well as shoot, pass, and rebound. Mike Devoe will improve from his freshman season in my opinion, showing more confidence and an increased knowledge of the system. Moses Wright will continue his breakout from the end of last season and lastly, Tech should shoot the three much better, improving on their 330th ranked mark last year.
BTP: And what is it that’s made the Jackets so effective defensively?
FTRS: Good question. I’m not sure that there is one specific answer to it. It may be a bit cliche, but a lot of the success has come due to heart and hustle. Tech may have struggled a bit under Pastner, but during his entire tenure he has preached the importance of hustle and is not afraid to take players out of the game if they aren’t giving it all on the defensive end of the court. The result is very few clean offensive looks and lots of contested shots for the opposing offenses. From an X’s and O’s perspective, Tech utilizes a unique rotation of man-to-man and zone defense, which keeps teams confused and sometimes causes them to overthink their sets. The Jackets aren’t afraid to switch defenses mid shot clock, which can cause the offense to completely reset. So far, it’s been pretty effective.