Rhythm of the Islands

Dec. 18, 2010

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

– There’s a certain rhythm in the Caribbean, and perhaps the men’s basketball team can find it and bring it back from Atlantis to Atlanta.

The Yellow Jackets (5-4) will play Richmond (8-2) this evening in the Battle at Atlantis in the Bahamas, and if things go as they all hope, they’ll iron out some kinks.

Tech has been good at times, and not so good at others over the first third- of the season, and there are several ways to load that metric.

Glen Rice Jr. leads the team in shooting percentage (51.4 percent), and has scored in double figures in six of Tech’s game to surpass his total of five double-digit games all of last season. Yet he went scoreless in two others. In Tech’s last game, a 69-59 win over Savannah State, Rice was replaced in the starting lineup by senior Moe Miller and did not score in 10 minutes.

Still, coach Paul Hewitt said before the Jackets left Atlanta that the sophomore guard/forward from Walton High is not in the doghouse, and no, the fact that he spent time during the Jackets’ win over Savannah State on the exercise bike was not a sign that he’s hurt; Hewitt said he’s not.

“We were just wanted to give him a chance to see things,” Hewitt said. “[Miller has an] ability to create easy shots with his passing, and he’s doing a much better job attacking the basket in transition. He has a steadying effect.”

Rice also was scoreless in a win over Albany earlier in the season, playing 11 minutes in that one.

While he may have an all-around skill set and basketball IQ to match anyone on the team, he also – like the Jackets in sum – suffers for sake of consistency. He’s fourth on the team in minutes played, yet lags the team with 20 turnovers. He’s second in assists with 26, but he’s barely making one in four of his 3-point tries.

When Rice finds his rhythm, the Jackets figure to be the better for it, and the same goes for Tech’s interior players.

Daniel Miller has scored a combined 21 points over the past two games, and grabbed nine rebounds each time out. Nate Hicks is showing signs, too, but Kammeon Holsey has not scored nor grabbed a rebound in the past two games.

When Tech starts getting steady play from the bigs, and Rice hits his stride, the Jackets will be much more consistent overall.

The athleticism is there, and when – or if — the bigs (all freshmen, remember) figure it out, “We’ll be able to do more defensively, and offensively it will help your balance,” Hewitt said. “We’re depending an awful lot on . . . our perimeter guys.”

Richmond has already beaten Purdue and Arizona State, and the Spiders shoot the 3-ball well (42.9 percent), a problem for the Jackets. Be on the lookout for Kevin Anderson, who’s averaging 17.1 points and shooting 48.7 percent from beyond the arc.

Mostly, though, the Jackets need to look both within and around for rhythm.

“There’s a fine line between feeding the hot hand and guys deferring,” Hewitt said when asked about some players going into a freeze from time to time. “I think it comes with the more games you play, the better feel guys have for each other.”

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