2008-09 Georgia Tech Basketball Preview: #111
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Overall Rank: #111
Conference Rank: #11 ACC
2007-08: 15-17, 7-9, 7th
2007-08 postseason: none
In ACC play, Georgia Tech started to come around and play like a team that wanted to win some games. The Yellow Jackets even ended the season winning three of their final four regular season games and beat Virginia in the first round of the ACC Tournament. That momentum is big, but unfortunately the loss of three key players is bigger.
Anthony Morrow was the scorer. He took all the clutch shots and was easily the best shooter from behind the arc on the team. His 14.2 points per game will certainly be missed on a team that struggled to consistently put points on the board. Backcourt mate Matt Causey was not as prolific of a scorer, but he was always a dangerous threat to get hot from long range. His leadership, tenacity and team high 3.7 assists will be much more difficult to replace than his 7.2 points per game. The main scorer in the paint was Jeremis Smith, who averaged 10.5 points and 7.1 rebounds.
The lone incoming freshman is the highly touted Iman Shumpert. The point guard has enough scoring prowess to even play at the two guard spot if necessary. And he certainly does not lack the athleticism to play either position in the ACC. Shumpert might be the lone incoming freshman, but the arrival of Basirou Dieng will help a depleted front line. Dieng, a 6-9, 215 pound center played at St. Francis (PA) the last two years and is immediately available to play as a graduate student with one year of eligibility remaining. The Yellow Jackets thought they might have Ra’Sean Dickey back after redshirting with an injury last year, but he has opted to play in Europe instead. Without Dickey the frontcourt will not be as explosive as they would have been, but there are some experienced players returning. Zach Peacock averaged nearly ten points per game off the bench last year and Gani Lawal started most of his freshman season. Throw in 6-10 senior Alade Aminu and the Yellow Jackets are full of talented big men.
Who to Watch:
The issues will likely be in the perimeter where there is plenty of talent, but a lack of depth. Maurice Miller had a decent freshman campaign and even started 19 games, but there was a lack of consistency at times. That can be expected from a freshman point guard, but Causey is not around anymore to take over when there are problems. If Miller can handle running the team, Georgia Tech and Coach Paul Hewitt will be dangerous. Having a couple of seniors on the wings in Lewis Clinch and D’Andre Bell should make Miller’s job a little easier, but those two have their own problems to take care of trying to replace the production of Morrow.
It will be important for the team to find a couple shooters to stretch out the defense. Clinch has proven he can hit the long ball, but he only hit one-third of his attempts last year and is the only returning player to knock down more than one per game last season. Morrow’s shooting ability really opened up space for the big guys, but it will not be as simple for Lawal and Peacock to find space in the paint without anybody hitting the outside shot.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Maurice Miller, Sophomore, Guard, 8.1 points per game
Lewis Clinch, Senior, Guard, 9.0 points per game
D’Andre Bell, Senior, Guard, 6.6 points per game
Gani Lawal, Sophomore, Forward, 7.2 points per game
Zack Peacock, Junior, Forward, 9.9 points per game