March 8, 2016
By Jon Cooper | The Good Word
– Adam Smith knows about longshots.
For two years running, nobody has shot the three-ball better than the 6-1, 165-pound two-guard from Jonesboro, Ga., who this season led the ACC with 3.0 three-point field goals per game (he also was eighth in three-point field goal percentage at 40.8 and was 10th in the conference in scoring in ACC play, with 15.8 ppg).
Smith’s ability to hit his long shots will go a long way in helping 10th-seeded Georgia Tech (18-13, 8-10) try to advance past No. 7 Clemson (17-13, 10-8) in its ACC Tournament Opener Wednesday night. Tip-off at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., is set for 7 p.m.
The graduate student, who came to Georgia Tech for the 2015-16 season after playing his two previous years at Virginia Tech — he played in one ACC Tournament, shooting 36.8 percent (7-for-19), 30.0 from three (3-for-10) in two games last year — played some of his best ball down the stretch. Over Georgia Tech’s season-ending run of five wins in six games, Smith averaged 17.8 points per game, with three 20-point games, including a 23-point effort on Saturday at McCamish Pavilion in the Senior Day 63-59 win over Pittsburgh. In those six games, Smith shot 41.5 percent (34-for-82), 40.8 from three (20-for-49).
Coincidentally, the run began after a 66-52 loss at Clemson on Feb. 13, when he scored 12 points while shooting 3-for-11, 0-for-3 from three (he was 6-for-6 from the line). Smith got a measure of revenge 10 days later, as did the Jackets, when he scored 20 points on 7-for-14 shooting, 4-for-7 from three, basically taking over in the second half of the 75-73 win at McCamish Pavilion.
Adam took a few minutes to talk with The Good Word about how he’ll handle his first visit to the Verizon Center, how he predicted the Jackets handling the second half of the ACC season and how Tech must handle this third matchup with the Tigers.
THE GOOD WORD: How confident is Georgia Tech heading into the ACC Tournament on the heels of its strong finish?
Adam Smith: It’s one game at a time. We can play and beat anybody in the league. We know the work that has been put in to win those games and to get to where we are now, so we have to stick to that. Stick to the process. We have what it takes to make a run. We just have to play our game. We have to play our style of basketball and we’ll be fine.
TGW: How do you approach playing Clemson for the third time in fewer than 30 days?
SMITH: You look back at the two games and really study what you did well and what you did wrong and try to maximize what you did well and minimize the things you did wrong. It’s tournament time, so it’s do or die.
TGW: How important is it for you to get off to a good start?
SMITH: That would be nice (smiles). But then you have to take into consideration, if I miss my first shot, or if I miss the second shot. You have to keep shooting. And there are other ways to be productive than just shooting the ball. There have been games this year where I haven’t shot the ball well. We still came out with a win.
TGW: This is the your first career game at Verizon Center. How challenging is it as a shooter going into an arena for the first time?
SMITH: I was always told a shooter can shoot anywhere. So I don’t put too much thought into it.
TGW: Was the team determined not to get down or say ‘Here we go again’ after losing so many close games in the first half of the ACC season?
SMITH: It’s funny because I think we were 2-7 at the halfway point in the ACC. Coach [Gregory] called us into a meeting, and he asked us for predictions of what we would finish out. I said 6-3 from here on out, and that’s exactly what we went. Some people said 9-0, some people said 8-1. You just have to have that confidence, and our team believed that we could finish really strong like we did. So I don’t think it was much of a shocker. We always knew what we had in us. It was just a matter of doing it.
BONUS: What is your prediction on the ACC Tournament?
SMITH: (smiles) 4-0.