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Old 11-05-2007, 09:06 PM   #1
gth816f
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A bit old, but I don't think it's been on here. If you have ESPN insider, here is the link: http://insider.espn.go.com/ncb/insid...ory?id=3038879

If not...well, don't tell on me:

COACH AND PROGRAM

Paul Hewitt is not a coach to cry about what might have been.

When ACC Rookie of the Year Chris Bosh jumped to the NBA after the 2003 season, Hewitt restructured his team and guided the 2004 Yellow Jackets to the 2004 national championship game in San Antonio. Of course, when point guard Jarrett Jack jumped to the pros after his junior season in 2005, it left a void that Hewitt was unable to fill and Georgia Tech struggled to an 11-17 season.

Now the question is: Will the premature loss of freshmen phenoms Thaddeus Young and Javaris Crittenton be as easy to overcome as the 2003 loss of Bosh or as devastating as the 2005 loss of Jack?

''I'm very confident about this team,'' Hewitt said. ''I'm not saying we'll be in San Antonio again, but this is a veteran team and we've got some pretty good depth.''

Indeed, it's amazing that a team could lose as much as Georgia Tech did in the off-season and yet have so many talented players to build with this year. Crittendon (14.4 ppg, 5.8 apg) and Young (14.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg) were the team's two top scorers, while senior Mario West (4.7 ppg, 2.6 rpg) was Georgia Tech's best perimeter defender.

''His loss is huge,'' Hewitt said. ''People are going to focus on the points we lost, but the reason we made the NCAA Tournament was Mario West's ability to make the big defensive play. When we beat Memphis, Javaris was struggling at the point and Mario stepped in for him there. He made a number of big defensive plays when we beat Duke and in the North Carolina game.

''So his graduation is a huge loss, since we also lose what he brought to practice every day.''

PLAYERS

Hewitt is hoping 6-8 senior forward Jeremis Smith (8.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.5 spg, .596 FG) can step into West's leadership role.

''We made him a co-captain with Mario late last season and he did a good job,'' Hewitt said. ''But we'll have to wait and see what happens.''

Smith has impressed his coach by his hard work in the off-season. He worked out with former Georgia Tech star Mark Price in an effort to improve a game that was all strength and muscle last season.

The big Texas native is far from Hewitt's only option in the post. He also has 6-8, 235-pound sophomore Zack Peacock (5.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg), who started nine games as a freshman last sea-son and averaged more than 19 minutes a game. ''Zack could be one of the surprises for us this year,'' Hewitt said. ''He has really improved.''

The Georgia Tech coach is also looking for major improvement from 6-10, 225-pound junior Alade Aminu (5.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg).

''He finished the year on a terrific note,'' Hewitt said. ''He might have been our most productive big man late in the season.''

However, Aminu suffered a back injury in the off-season that was diagnosed as a protruding disc. That has slowed his preseason work.

''Our medical staff has assured me that he should be fine,'' Hewitt said. ''We just have to take it slow.''

If Aminu is limited early in the season, that could open a window of opportunity for Hewitt's most celebrated recruit -- 6-8, 230-pound Gani Lawal (18.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.7 bpg, .730 FG at Norcross [Ga.] High School).

''He's a ball of energy,'' Hewitt said. ''He's a great athlete with the ability to run and jump. But what really hits you is that he plays with so much energy. He reminds me a little of Anthony McHenry [a starter on Hewitt's 2004 Final Four team], except that he's bigger and stronger and will be a better rebounder.''

The addition of Lawal to a post rotation that's already solid with Smith and Peacock ought to help Hewitt bring Aminu along slowly. The Georgia Tech coach is also hoping to get a contri-bution from 6-10 red-shirt freshman Brad Sheehan (21.5 ppg, 11.5 rpg at Shaker HS in Lathan, N.Y. in 2006).

The presence of so many post options should help Georgia Tech cope with the temporary absence of 6-10, 250-pound senior center Ra'Sean Dickey (8.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.0 bpg).

The two-year starter is academically ineligible for the first semester but could return to the team as early as Dec. 18 if he takes care of his work in the classroom. Hewitt is not counting on his veteran big man until -- and if -- he clears his academic hurdles. Still, if Dickey does what he's supposed to do and returns, Georgia Tech will have as many capable post players as any team in the country.

Hewitt is hoping Dickey can emulate teammate Lewis Clinch (13.2 ppg, 1.9 rpg, .476 3PT, .532 FG). The 6-3 junior wing started 10 of Georgia Tech's first 12 games a year ago and was emerging as one of the ACC's top long-range shooters. He scored 17 in the upset of Memphis and 21 in a loss to UCLA. He added 20 in a victory over Penn State and 22 in the ACC opener at Miami.

But Clinch was sidelined after first semester by the Jackets' strict academic requirements. He has done the work in the classroom to regain his spot on the roster -- and probably in the start-ing lineup.

''He is a very gifted and talented scorer,'' Hewitt said. ''If you had to handicap it, I think you'd say that Lewis Clinch will probably be our top scorer.''

Clinch may get a run for his money from 6-5 senior Anthony Morrow (9.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg, .418 3PT) who is healthy again after playing last season with a sore back.

''That definitely set him back,'' Hewitt said. ''He had a great sophomore year [16.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, .429 3PT] then he worked so hard that spring and summer to get stronger and better. Then he went home in August and was playing in a pickup game when he fell and hurt his back. It turned out to be a stress fracture.''

The Charlotte, N.C., product missed all the preseason and even though he returned to action in time for the season opener, he wasn't the same player as a junior -- until late in the season. He averaged 15 points in the Jackets' final four games and seemed to have regained his deadly three-point touch.

The prospect of having Clinch and a healthy Morrow on the wing certainly eases whatever pain Hewitt has over the loss of Young and West. Plus, he should get some pretty solid depth from 6-10 sophomore Mouhammed Faye (3.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg) and 6-5 junior D'Andre Bell (1.4 ppg, 0.7 rpg).

Hewitt is hoping one or both can help fill the defensive void created by West's departure.

''They really like to defend,'' Hewitt said. ''D'Andre is a tough kid who would seem to be the guy to step in there. Faye really gives people problems with his quickness and long arms.''

If Georgia Tech needs another wing scorer, Hewitt can call on 6-4, 215-pound freshman Lance Storrs (15.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg, .380 3PT at Columbia HS in Decatur, Ga.).

''Some of our older guys say he reminds them of B.J. Elder,'' Hewitt said, citing another of his 2004 stars. ''He can shoot the ball and he's strong as an ox. Like B.J., he's a guard we can post, while he's still a threat on the perimeter. He needs to improve his ball handling, but he's got a lot of potential.''

While Hewitt has plenty of proven options to replace Young and West, he admits it won't be that simple replacing Crittenton at point guard.

A year after point guard issues led to that disappointing 11-win season, Crittenton took over the point and even though he suffered some typical freshman inconsistency, he provided enough of a spark to generate last year's 20-win success. He finished strong and emerged as a first-round NBA draft pick.

Neither 6-1 freshman Maurice ''Mo'' Miller (19.0 ppg, 4.0 apg, 2.5 spg, .620 FG at Raleigh-Egypt HS in Memphis) nor 6-0 senior transfer Matt Causey (23.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 6.4 apg, .320 3PT at North Georgia College) arrives with anything like the accolades that followed Crittenton or previous freshman point-guard starter Jarrett Jack.

But Hewitt claims to be confident about his two point guard options.

''I better be confident,'' he said. ''There are no midseason pickups. Seriously, they are both different type point guards. They are not like Javaris or Jarrett Jack or even Tony Akins -- I've always had the luxury of point guards who can take over a game. Both of these kids are pass-first point guards. I think it's a nice tandem. Causey can shoot the ball and he has good experi-ence. Miller is a better athlete.''

Causey, a product of Gainesville, Ga., started his college career at Georgetown, where he played in 28 games as a freshman in 2004. After he transferred to North Georgia, he started and averaged 23.7 and 23.3 points per game as a sophomore and junior.

Miller, Tennessee's Mr. Basketball last fall, was rated a top 100 prospect by several recruiting analysts after leading Raleigh-Egypt to a 128-15 record in his four years as a starter.

''Causey has the benefit of practicing with us for a year and he's a real savvy kid,'' Hewitt said. ''Miller is a very smart player and was well taught by his high school coach. He has a really good feel for how to run a basketball team.''
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Old 11-05-2007, 09:06 PM   #2
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BLUE RIBBON ANALYSIS

BACKCOURT: B+
BENCH/DEPTH: A
FRONTCOURT: B+
INTANGIBLES: A-


Hewitt's tenure at Georgia Tech has seen its share of ups and downs, but he has produced three 20-win seasons in the last four years. Not bad at a school that had just one in the eight years before his arrival.

The Yellow Jacket coach has a veteran crop of proven performers to choose from in the post and on the wing. The experience of Smith and Peacock (and, probably after Dec. 18, Dickey) should give Georgia Tech as solid an inside game as anybody in the ACC -- regardless of whether Lawal arrives as an impact player.

The return of Clinch and of a healthy Morrow more than offset the loss of two key wing players. Few ACC teams will have two three-point threats to compare to Hewitt's pair of aces.

The small question facing the Jackets is how well they will play defense? Losing West obviously hurts, but usually older players play tougher 'D,' and Georgia Tech has age and experience in the post and on the wing.

That leaves the big question: Can Hewitt replace Crittenton at the point?

The Georgia Tech coach doesn't need an all-star performance from Causey or Miller. What he needs is a steady playmaker who can get the ball to his scorers on the wing or in the post.

If either of his point guard candidates can do that consistently, Georgia Tech could be as big a surprise as the Jackets were in 2004 after losing Bosh. If neither can handle the job, then Hewitt will have as many headaches as in 2006 after losing Jack.

They seem to be much higher on our chances this year than a lot of people are. Hopefully they are right.
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Old 11-06-2007, 12:50 AM   #3
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Thanks for the post. Best preview I have read yet. With football depressing me every weekend I need some escape through basketball (hopefully...)!
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Old 11-06-2007, 03:31 PM   #4
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Default Re: Blue Ribbon GT Preview

Quote:
Originally Posted by gth816f View Post
BLUE RIBBON ANALYSIS

BACKCOURT: B+
BENCH/DEPTH: A
FRONTCOURT: B+
INTANGIBLES: A-


WOW. My ratings would've been:

Backcourt: C+
Bench/Depth: B
Frontcourt: B-
Intangibles: C+

Hope I'm wrong.
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Old 11-08-2007, 12:01 AM   #5
WCAttyJacket
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kirbee View Post
WOW. My ratings would've been:

Backcourt: C+
Bench/Depth: B
Frontcourt: B-
Intangibles: C+

Hope I'm wrong.
Clinch and Morrow get you more than a C+ alone. We should be fine at pg. I think people don't realize or forget that Causey was a top 100, 4 star player coming out of high school. In fact, in the rsci composite rankings his rank was slightly ahead of what Miller's was.
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Old 11-08-2007, 09:37 AM   #6
SMoney
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I think people don't realize or forget that Causey was a top 100, 4 star player coming out of high school.
It's great that he was top 100 and rated a 4 star in high school. That was years ago though, and he hasn't exactly been playing against the toughest competition for the past couple of years - I'll withhold my judgement on how good he is until I see him against some of the ACC teams...
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Old 11-08-2007, 11:54 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by SMoney View Post
It's great that he was top 100 and rated a 4 star in high school. That was years ago though, and he hasn't exactly been playing against the toughest competition for the past couple of years - I'll withhold my judgement on how good he is until I see him against some of the ACC teams...
Agreed... obviously we know more about him now then we did then and I'm not so sure he'd still be a top 100 prospect in retrospect. Also, his main negative was the lack of size/athleticism, and this weakness has been exacerbated by multiple knee/leg injuries.

We don't need him to be a freak tho... he just has to steady the offense.
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Old 11-09-2007, 09:23 PM   #8
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WOW. My ratings would've been:

Backcourt: C+
Bench/Depth: B
Frontcourt: B-
Intangibles: C+

Hope I'm wrong.
In spite of popular opinion, I keep going with my own eyes and I think I might lower my ratings.

Anyone wanna disagree????? :ugh:
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Old 11-10-2007, 11:47 AM   #9
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In spite of popular opinion, I keep going with my own eyes and I think I might lower my ratings.

Anyone wanna disagree????? :ugh:
Not currently, but I will say it was obvious that the team really missed Peacock and Dickey last night. We just don't have anybody right now that can truly own his space in the post.

All I know is now I'm glad that I let somebody else get season basketball tickets in my steed. I can't handle another year of hustling down to the AMC from work just to watch 4 guys stand around and occasionally hand the ball off at the top of the key.
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