Kevin C. Cox
In preparation for Saturday’s Miami vs. Georgia Tech basketball game, we decided to conduct a Q&A session with Georgia Tech basketball blogger Chris Plaisance.
I was admittedly shocked when I discovered that Georgia Tech’s record this season was 10-2. I mean, Georgia Tech? They’re best known for their triple option attack in football. Basketball success? Maybe those Mayans were just a few days behind, or something. To fill us in on what to expect from Georgia Tech, we consulted the experts, from Georgia Tech’s sbnation blog "From The Rumble Seat".
1. What are the biggest strengths and weaknesses of this Georgia Tech team?
Tech has been very successful on defense so far this year. For such a young team (3 freshmen seeing a large amount of playing time) they communicate very well. They have been able to help on defense and communicate to keep their OPPG to 6th in the nation currently. Coach Brian Gregory takes his defense very seriously and the players seem to pride themselves in this tough defense. They have held teams to an average of 53.5 points per game and a FG% of 35.1%. Daniel Miller has been a huge contributor to this defensive success, currently 1st in the ACC in blocks per game with an average of 2.5 per game. All in all, Tech's biggest strength has been holding teams to tough shots and keeping teams out of the paint.
Tech has struggled on the free throw line this year. They haven't been able to score on the line which has been very frustrating for the team. Shooting from the field has begun to improve as the season has progressed, but overall shooting has been a struggle that they are slowly working to fix. These are easy points that can determine a game.
2. Georgia Tech's offense has produced over 70 points in 5 straight games, after scoring below 65 in the previous 6. Is there anything in particular that led to the increase in offense?
Offensive rebounding. I said this from Week 1. In order for this team to be successful, they have to capitalize on their size. Tech consistently utilizes 4 players that are 6'8" or taller. Tech was out-rebounded five straight consecutive games before averaging +14 in rebounding difference over the last four games. UNC-W is the only game of the 5 wins over 70 points were Tech was out-rebounded, and they were only out-rebounded by 2 points. Tech currently has three players in the ACC top 30 rebounders (average rebounds per game) -Carter Jr., Miller and Holsey.
Another thing that has improved is FG%. Tech started the season shooting poorly from the field, and recently have begun to shoot better from the field. Obviously, in order to score, teams have to shoot well. This improvement has definitely helped them score more points.
3. Give me the one player on the Yellow Jackets roster that you think could give Miami the most trouble on Saturday, and on the flip side, who's the one player on Miami that you think Georgia Tech needs to focus on?
Marcus Georges-Hunt has been a huge contributor to the team this season. He has been ACC Rookie of the Week twice this season already. Also, ESPN insider writer Paul Biancardi recently wrote a "Top 10 under-the-radar freshmen" with Georges-Hunt ranking #2 on his list. I know that most of this means nothing to most people, but his stats speak for themselves. The freshman G/F has started all 12 games averaging 11.5 points per game and 4.6 rebounds per game. He is involved in every play and his versatility as a guard/forward has aided Tech to run different schemes with him. Shooting only 33% from the 3, he needs to improve from behind the arch to be more of a danger.
Kenny Kadji is going to be important on the glass for the Hurricanes. With Reggie Johnson out with an broken thumb, I see him stepping up down low. Tech controls games when they control the boards. If Kadji can be successful on the boards like he has recently this season, he will cause Tech some serious problems. Tech struggles at times getting the ball down low against teams with a dominate presence in the post. Miami's focus should be to keep the Jackets out of the lane, forcing them to shoot more. This can start with Kadji
4. What is your official prediction for the game?
I see this game being very competitive. Unfortunately for Miami, Reggie Johnson's injury will be costly I think against Tech's tall team. Tech has lead midway through the second half against Cal and Illinois(their two losses), before losing the lead. I see Tech having a similar lead (7-10 points) with about 10 minutes left in the game. With their experience they have gained from their 6 game home streak, I think they will hold onto this lead and win 79-67.
If you haven’t heard enough about this game (trust me, you haven’t), check out my answers to his questions, found by clicking the word here, and look for my preview, posting later tonight.