Jan. 26, 2016
By Jon Cooper | The Good Word
– Ben Lammers isn’t big on drawing attention to himself.
He’s starting to get used to it, however, as the 6-10, 231-pound sophomore from San Antonio, Texas, is starting to make a name — and a nickname — for himself with his big play in the paint as he becomes one of the ACC’s top shot-blocking presences.
Lammers is rejecting 2.0 shots per game in conference play, tied for second in the conference, behind only Louisville’s Chinanu Onuaku (2.3), and is running away with the Yellow Jackets’ team lead, as his 12 swats in ACC play are double his nearest teammate (James White has six) and accounts for nearly 42 percent of the team’s 29 blocks. He’s helped the Jackets win the category in four of their six ACC games — they’ve been tied the other two games.
Ben also has been a key component in Georgia Tech’s wave of energetic bigs coming off the bench to give the team a lift and has been especially big of late, as he’s knocked away nine shots in the last three games, while pulling down 17 rebounds, including an ACC-career-best seven at Notre Dame (two off his career-high), four of those off the offensive glass (matching his career-best).
Lammers’ frequent posterization of opponents has stood out to the point that it recently earned him the nickname “The Laminator” from Associate Director of Communications and Public Relations Mike Stamus.
Lammers blocked out some time during an especially busy day — he also had a pre-practice interview for a story for Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering — to talk with The Good Word about being a Mechanical Engineering major, being a key contributor off the bench and being the recipient of a brand-new Schwarzenegger-esque nickname.
THE GOOD WORD: You just completed an interview for a story on you for the Engineering Department. What’s life like as an Mechanical Engineering student?
Ben Lammers: I don’t have a whole lot of free time (laughs). I’ve been enjoying it a lot, though, for the past year and a half now. Mechanical Engineering is basically a lot of math and physics. The interview was for the Georgia Tech Engineering department, in general. They just wanted to get a story on me being an Engineering student and a basketball player.
TGW: Which is a more difficult to grasp: Your M.E. text books or B.G.’s playbook?
LAMMERS: They’re about the same (laughs), but B.G. makes sure we go over the plays like a hundred times so repetition makes perfect.
TGW: You’ve been on a quite a roll as a shot-blocker in ACC play. What’s been the key to being so effective?
LAMMERS: To be honest, in AAU on my basketball team there’s another 6-10 guy (forward David Wacker) — he’s a great player, he plays at Boise State right now — he asked me the same question. I told him, ‘I don’t really know.’ It’s just one of those things where I guess I have an instinct for it, I’m fairly good at being able to time my jumps to where I can get the ball without fouling the guy. In high school I was always a really good shot-blocker. Obviously, it was a little different considering I was 6-10 when everyone else was like 6-5 but in high school I think I averaged around five blocks a game, something like that. Maybe now I’m starting to get more comfortable on the defensive end and get the feel back for timing and everything. Hopefully I can make it more consistent.
TGW: You’ve brought a lot of energy coming off the bench. Do you feel you have an advantage in seeing the flow of game before coming in?
LAMMERS: I definitely see it as a positive because you can get a feel for the game without actually being in it. By the time I get in I kind of know who’s doing well, who may be having a bad game. So I can look for the driver or the shooter. I may learn a little bit faster than the guys on the court because they’re in the middle of everything. Going against Nick and James and Chuck every day in practice I feel like we’re some of the best rebounders in the ACC, so rebounding in practice is pretty hard. Compared to practice, rebounding in the game, is really nothing.
TGW: Your foul shooting has improved dramatically since the start of the season. To what do you attribute that improvement?
LAMMERS: In practice I’m a good free throw shooter but I think a lot of it is just getting used to being out there. I’m not sure if I was nervous but I guess it’s just one of those things. I just over-think everything. Especially at the beginning of the year, whenever I was shooting a free throw, I’d think everything, ‘Bend your knees, follow through.’ But now I’ve learned to blank out my thoughts a little bit and that’s been helping me out. Pretty much just try not to over-think it.
BONUS: TGW: Mike Stamus recently gave you the nickname, “The Laminator” after your four-block game against Virginia Tech. What do you think of the nickname?
LAMMERS: (laughs) I hadn’t heard that one yet. I’ll take it. ‘Big Ben’ is, obviously, something I’ve had since elementary school so this would be a new one. It’s definitely not the worst nickname I could have, so if you want to go with it, sure. (laughs)