Dec. 13, 2010
By Jon Cooper
Heading into the season, Men’s Basketball Head Coach Paul Hewitt knew his squad would face something of a learning curve. Nine games in, a lot of questions have been answered, but there are still some that remain unanswered for the young squad.
The Yellow Jackets are 5-4 but go into exams having put their three-game losing streak behind them. The 69-59 win over Savannah State Saturday afternoon also helped soothe some of the hurt over a tough 73-72 loss to Georgia.
Sting Daily takes a brief overview at the team after nine games, as they approach their final five non-conference games and look to 2011 and ACC play.
Iman-cipation: It took some time for Iman Shumpert to get going — he shot 37.0 percent (20-for-54) over the team’s first five games, 26.3 percent if you take away his 10-for-16 against Albany — but he’s starting to come around. Over his last four games, Shumpert shot 43.8 percent and made at least five field goals in all four games. He leads the team with 14.1 ppg, and has seen a marked improvement in his free throw shooting. Shumpert, who has never shot above 72.0 percent in a season, is converting at 85.7 percent, and heads into the break having made 19 of his last 21 FTAs, with a pair of 7-for-8 games.
Board Members: Hewitt stated prior to the start of the season that the team needed a team commitment when it came to rebounding. He has gotten such a commitment thus far. The Jackets have outrebounded their opponents in all but three games (they’re actually 2-1 in those games). Brian Oliver leads the team in rebounding, and has led or had a share of the rebounding lead in five games. Shumpert has been at the top in four games, Glen Rice, Jr. three times and Jason Morris once. Tech has five individual double-digit rebounding games this season, as Rice and Shumpert each have two and Oliver one. The Jackets have had one game with multiple-double-digit rebounders. That was Nov. 26, against UTEP, in the Legends Classic, when Oliver had 12 and Rice grabbed 11.
Arc-ane: The three-point shot has not been friendly to Georgia Tech, as the team is shooting 27.5 percent (49-for-178). The four starters who have attempted a three — Shumpert (7-for-35, .200; he’s a career 32.4 shooter from three), Oliver (22-for-66, .333), Rice (5-for-22, .227), and Mfon Udofia (7-for-21, .333) are shooting a combined 28.5 percent (41-for-144). Center Daniel Miller has not taken a three this season. Moe Miller, who started against Savannah State, is 4-for-14 on the season (28.6).
Adding Insult to Injury: The Jackets’ struggles from three-point range are made worse by opponents’ proficiency from there. Opponents are hitting nearly 40 percent from behind the arc, having made 17 more threes (66) in 11 fewer attempts (167). Defending the three-point line has been problematic of late, as in its last three games, Tech has been outscored 99-51 from three and its opponents, Northwestern (64.6, percent, including 75.9 in the first half), Georgia (54.5 percent, including 63.6 in the second half), and Savannah State (50.0 percent, 54.5 in the second 20 minutes) have shot at least 50 percent.
The Big O: Sophomore Brian Oliver has stepped up in his sophomore season. Oliver, who has the team’s high-scoring game (32 vs. Syracuse on Nov. 27), ranks second to Shumpert in scoring (13.9 ppg), while leading the team in rebounds (5.8), offensive rebounds (17), and three-pointers made (22). Oliver’s 22 threes are only five fewer than the rest of the team combined. He’s also tied for third on the team in blocked shots (5) and free throw percentage at 81.3 percent (minimum 15 attempts). Oliver’s 17-point effort against Savannah State allowed him to go into the break on a positive, as he shot 5-for-10, following two games in which he made only 4 of 24 shots. He also buried seven of eight free throws and has made 11 of his last 12. Next up is solving the mystery of the three, as he’s made only three of his last 17.
Tech next takes the court in Paradise Island, in the Bahamas, on Saturday, against Richmond in the Battle At Atlantis. Tip-off is at 5:00 p.m. The Jackets will then visit Siena on Dec. 22, before heading home for three straight games, closing 2010 against Fordham (Dec. 27, a noon tip), and Mercer (Dec. 31, 1:00 p.m.) then opening 2011 against Charlotte (Jan. 2, 6:00 p.m.). They embark on ACC play with their opener at Boston College on Jan. 8 (a 4:00 p.m. start).