Big Man Miller Looks To Come Up Bigger

Dec. 5, 2011

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

Georgia Tech needs to do several things better to win more often, but for purposes of simplicity we’ll boil it down here to a couple areas of concern as the Yellow Jackets prepare for the final time today before playing Wednesday at Georgia.

Coach Brian Gregory has noted early this season that the Jackets need to do better job of taking care of the ball, and he’s looking for better offensive production from his post players.

Tech’s assist-to-turnover (94-121, 0.78) ratio is a problem, and it figures to be a little easier to push the latter number down than the first number up.

So, “We’ve got to value every possession,” coach Brian Gregory said again Monday.

This will hopefully improve over time, but the Jackets (4-4) have just one player in their regular rotation with more assists than turnovers, and backup point man Pierre Jordan (9-8) is averaging a modest 12.6 minutes per game. He missed Saturday’s game at Tulane after undergoing a minor medical procedure and may not be available Wednesday night.

Leading scorer Glen Rice, Jr. (16-16), point guard Mfon Udofia (22-22) and center Daniel Miller (12-12) have ratios of 1.0, which is pretty good, but Kammeon Holsey — who for the most part holds down the post with Miller — has 18 turnovers to six assists.

He’s also struggled offensively of late, scoring a combined nine points over the past two games (against Northwestern and Tulane) on 4-of-8 shooting. Holsey averaged 12.3 points over Tech’s first six games, so he’s been chipping in lately at about one-third that clip. His rhythm seems off, his assertiveness ebbing and flowing.

Ditto Miller.

He made just 1-of-8 shots at Tulane, and while he made 4-of-7 against Northwestern, the redshirt sophomore is shooting at a modest 44.4 percent clip, which isn’t what Gregory’s looking for from a player who takes nearly all of his shots from close quarters.

These are concerns because the Tech coach said he wants the ball moving through the post, “virtually every possession,” unless, of course, that possession is a transition.

Miller leads the Jackets in rebounding (7.8 per game) and blocked shots (22, or 2.8 per game), but there’s a fly in his ointment. What is it?

“I think we need him to be a little more aggressive going to the basket in seeking some physical contact,” Gregory said. “He’s much improved at the free throw line (75 percent), so getting him to the line has been good for us. It’s new territory for him to be depended on to score on the block. It’s not going to happen overnight.”

True.

There’s a lot that’s new at Tech with Gregory in his first year, and as players become more and more familiar with what they’re being asked to do, it seems reasonable to assume that assist totals will climb and turnovers will drop.

“Every single player on our team is being asked to do something different than they’ve ever done in college basketball,” the coach said. “Every single role is different than what they’ve done here before. With that, there’s going to be some inconsistencies.”

Miller, who signed a letter-of-intent to play at Georgia before seeking a release upon the school’s coaching change a few years ago, knows the score. He just has to keep reminding himself of it because his role has changed as much or more than anybody’s.

“I’ve got to get that attack the basket, that’s got to be the first thing on my mind,” he said. “If I try to get too many moves in there, a guy comes over to help. I’ve just got to attack. The first couple games we were winning by 20 so it didn’t matter if I missed. If I [score], we’re going to get the wide-open threes and drives and dishes and everything else.”

Gregory would like that to happen ASAP because he said Georgia’s, “big guys are very physical,” and the Jackets are getting ready, “to go on the road and play in a difficult place in a rivalry that is more important than most games.”

That sums it up nicely.

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