#80 Georgia Tech: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #80
Conference Rank: #9 Atlantic Coast Conference
2009-10: 23-13, 7-9
2009-10 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Paul Hewitt (177-144 at Georgia Tech, 243-171 overall)
Last season Georgia Tech snuck into the NCAA Tournament on the shoulders of their frontcourt. The now departed Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal led the team in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots and combined to average 25.5 points, 16.9 rebounds and 3.5 blocks. Add Zach Peacock, who was fourth on the team in scoring and third in rebounding, to the list of departures and suddenly the Yellow Jackets will have to turn into a team that relies on the talent on the perimeter.
Key Losses: G D’Andre Bell, F Derrick Favors, F Gani Lawal, F Zach Peacock
Georgia Tech was hoping Favors would stick around for another season, but instead they will have to rely on a group of newcomers to see some major playing time. Redshirt freshman Kammeon Holsey is the most likely to step into a starting role right away, but center Daniel Miller also spent last season redshirting and at least has a year in the program. The lone incoming freshman who can help in the frontcourt is Nate Hicks, but he will likely need some time to develop. Shooting guard Jason Morris is a highly touted recruit and could work his way into the regular rotation despite the logjam of returning players on the perimeter.
Iman Shumpert is the new star of the team. The 6-5 point guard can do a little bit of everything and he will have to take over this group in every way possible. He is Georgia Tech’s most prolific returning three-point shooter on the perimeter as well as the point guard. He may not be able to score too much more than his 10.0 points per game he averaged last year since he has to handle the ball as well, but Coach Paul Hewitt will try to get the most out of him. Getting some help from the rest of the guards in the scoring column may be a problem since nobody else averaged more than six points per game last year. Mfon Udofia is more of a point guard than a shooter and he could take over that role from Shumpert if the offense sputters. Maurice Miller has never been much of a scorer, but he is a solid defender.
Brian Oliver was a superb bench player last season. He only averaged 16.5 minutes per game, but he connected on nearly two three-pointers per game and averaged 7.1 points per game. Those are some pretty gaudy numbers considering his limited playing time. However, the 6-6 sophomore will now be forced to spend more time in the paint. While he proved to be a fine scorer, Oliver is not much of a rebounder. From the power forward spot, where he will have to spend some time, Oliver will stretch out the defense, but his lack of rebounding prowess will cause some problems. The only other returning frontcourt player is Brad Sheehan. The seven foot center only played in 20 games last year and it is unlikely that he will be able to increase his production significantly.
Who to Watch:
The talent on the perimeter has been overshadowed by the dominating frontcourt. The guards rarely looked to score because they could simply dump the ball down to Lawal or Favors instead. Now the backcourt needs to score and Glen Rice Jr. may be the best bet to take a big step up in the scoring column. Rice started the last nine games of his freshman campaign and ended the season averaging 5.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists. With a year of experience under his belt, Rice should be more comfortable taking shots and turning into a scoring leader.
Rice will also have to help out on the glass, as will the rest of the backcourt. After dominating the glass last season, that could be Georgia Tech’s undoing in 2010-2011. Shumpert, Rice, Miller, Udofia and Oliver can only do so much and that puts a ton of pressure on the three freshmen in the frontcourt to produce right away. Nobody is going to replace Lawal and Favors, but if Holsey can at least hit the glass hard, Georgia Tech can win some games and make a postseason tournament.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Iman Shumpert, Junior, Guard, 10.0 ppg
Mfon Udofia, Sophomore, Guard, 5.9 ppg
Glen Rice, Jr., Sophomore, Guard, 5.4 ppg
Brian Oliver, Sophomore, Forward, 7.1 ppg
Kammeon Holsey, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
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