1. BC and Georgia Tech met two years ago in the NCAA Tournament. The core of our team remains the same. You’ve had a full turnover in personnel. The faces are new, is the Tech style of play different?
The faces look like they are 15, that's certainly new. The style is the same on the face of it, but not nearly as effective. In 2004 GT was 5th in defensive efficiency, in 2005 we were 10th. This year? 60th. Now, I expect that to go up as the season goes along, but it's certainly a far cry from the elite lock down teams we've had over the past two years. Our biggest weakness on defense is on the perimeter right now, Fredrick and Morrow aren't nearly the defenders Jack, Bynum and McHenry were --and with Mario West dinged up we really don't have an elite defender at the guard spots. The overall plan stays the same though, tough defense, some pressure and an opportunistic offense.
Bring your hardhats in the post, because Jeremis Smith is a hardcore mother (he and Craig Smith might end up killing each other, seriously).
2. Georgia Tech has looked good at times this year (Michigan State, Vanderbilt) and ugly at others (Air Force). Young team learning how to play or just inconsistent efforts?
I really didn't think Air Force was that bad -- they are a good team and that's a ridiculously hard place to play (6200ft of elevation is fun!), not to mention that style makes any game look ugly. The one that was really bad was the loss to UIC at home. Ouch. This is a young team that's doesn't have a point guard, and that's a recipe for disaster at times. Also, we have struggled with some inconsistency, especially from Ra'Sean Dickey who's a monster one night and an absolute 0 the next. Hewitt has benched him trying to motivate him, that's going to be a big "if" to GT's season. Lewis Clinch, our big time freshman recruit, going down with a stress fracture right when he was starting to round into form didn't help with consistency.
3. Who should we pay attention to?
Anthony Morrow and Jeremis Smith. Both will be 2nd or 3rd team All-ACC this year and are big time players. Morrow is a flat out lethal shooter (48% from 3 this season - leading the ACC) with a wicked quick release and a nice midrange game. He had 28 and 9 against Vanderbilt, and is quite capable of filling it up. Morrow is just a sophomore and is still learning to play a bit better with the ball in his hands as opposed to being a purely spot up shooter, but at 6'5" he's extremely smooth and very difficult to guard. Jeremis Smith is the nasty banger that every team has to have, and the emotional leader of this team. He's a bit undersized, but a tremendous rebounder (right around 9 per) and an above average leaper. More importantly, he has a mean streak a mile wide and if you had to pick "ACC Player most likely to injure an opponent going for a board" he'd certainly be it. He's also probably our best ball handler ... which is scary.
4. What is the key to beating Tech this year?
Ball pressure. I'm starting the "Zam Fredrick II Drinking Game" for the ACC season (1 drink for every turnover, 2 drinks for every forced shot, 3 drinks for every time he walks into a trap at the timeline) - I'll be smashed at halftime. Zam is a scorer, pure and simple. Unfortunately for us, he has to play PG and that's really not his forte. Paco Diaw has helped out some, and I expect to see him more at the PG spot as the season goes on, maybe as soon as this weekend. We're going to turn it over a lot if you exert ball pressure, and it negates our inside game because our guards can't really make entry passes under those circumstances. Any ACC coach that doesn't pressure GT this year is doing Hewitt a huge favor.
This GT team is very young and has some big time talent on it (Morrow, Smith, Dickey and Clinch) as well as a couple of solid role players (Fredrick, West, Bell, Aminu, Diaw) ... but this isn't going to be "the year" for us. I'll be thrilled with an N.I.T bid, and next year with Thad Young and Javaris Crittenton added to the mix this team is going to be scary good and extremely dangerous. We'll be double digit dogs a lot in the ACC season, I expect around 6 conference wins - all at home.