March 8-10 • Atlanta, Ga.
- Georgia Tech 55, Virginia 48
- Georgia Tech 75, Duke 64
- Georgia Tech 57, North Carolina 54
Georgia Tech, the perennial conference also-ran, accomplished this feat nearly unmatched in ACC history. Inheriting a 4-23 team, Bobby Cremins took a winless ACC squad and transformed it into a first place team within a four-year span.
Tech, the perennial conference also-ran, accomplished this feat nearly unmatched in ACC history. Inheriting a 4-23 team, Bobby Cremins took a winless ACC squad and transformed it into a first place team within a four-year span.
Nationally the Jackets, 27-8 overall, reached new heights, climbing to their highest ranking ever (5th place tie with Oklahoma-UPI. In all, the Rambling Wreck beat 13 teams that were ranked in the nation’s Top 20 at the time of their defeat.
The playing cast for Georgia Tech had limited numbers. So limited that Furman Bisher of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution labeled Tech “The Thin Gold Line.” By ACC tournament time, with a knee injury to Ferrell, it was a “Thin Gold Thread.” The starting lineup throughout the season was Mark Price and Bruce Dalrymple at guards, Yvon Joseph in the middle and John Salley and Duane Ferrell at the forwards.
The top reserves were senior Scott Petway, who started the final six games for the injured Ferrell, and 7-0 freshman center Antoine Ford. Freshman John Martinson and junior forward Jack Mansell also contributed valuable minutes.
A deadly outside shooter, Price gave Tech more than just points. Dishing out the ball from his point guard spot, he was largely responsible for Tech’s five starters averaging in double figures almost the entire season. Price offered the complete package with scoring (16.7ppg), passing (150 assists), defense (66 steals), ballhandling, and leadership.
While Dalrymple was listed as a guard, that didn’t limit him from mixing it up underneath. He was one of the top rebounding guards in the nation and always seemed to come up with the loose ball. A former ACC Rookie-of-the-Year, he was the ultimate triple threat with his scoring (12.9 ppg), rebounding (5.9 ppg) and passing (135 assists). He also drew the tough backcourt defensive assignments.
Joseph, a 6-11 center from Haiti, provided Tech the muscle in the middle while teaming up with Salley. A high point for Joseph that year included a three-game stretch against Maryland, Duke and Wake Forest where he scored 55 points and grabbed 24 rebounds. He closed his senior year with an 11.6 scoring and 6.6 rebounding average.
The “Spiderman” for Tech was the lanky Salley, who was one of the most improved players in the country last year. At times an intimidating force around the basket. Salley broke his own school record with 82 blocked shots. He was Tech’s best shooter from the field this year at .627. Salley was Tech’s second-leading scorer with a 14.0 average and top rebounder, grabbing 7.1 rebounds per outing.
Ferrell was an instant starter at the small forward position, producing 9.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game is rookie year. A powerful yet quick performer, Ferrell filled a vital spot in the Tech lineup although he saw limited duty at the end of the season because of strained knee ligaments.
In his place, Petway, a 6-6 forward, gave Tech consistent play as a solid complementary player. He was not called upon to score much and usually aided Tech with his ballhandling, passing and defense.
Bruce Dalrymple and Mark Price embrace after capturing the title.
The Rambling Wreck exploded with a 10-1 start and were ranked third in the nation after winning the Rainbow Classic and Price earned National Player-of-the-Week honors. Tech then turned its attention to a rugged ACC slate where the Jackets continued to fare well with an 18-4 overall, 7-3 in the ACC, record.
Tech dropped two of three ACC contests down the stretch, which turned the league race topsy-turvy. In its final league game, Tech rallied to beat North Carolina in the Omni. The victory gave Tech a share of first place with UNC and N.C. State. In a drawing by the ACC office, the Jackets received top seeding in the tournament.
Price earned MVP honors at the tournament with a 50-point performance, including 20-of-20 from the foul line. Dalrymple was as defensive demon and contributed 43 points and was a choice by many as the tournament MVP.
Against the Tar Heels, Tech trailed the entire game, falling behind by eight points with 14:44 to play before beginning their comeback. The Jackets managed their first lead with just 52 seconds left on a free throw by Yvon Joseph and then held on for a 57-54 win. Price, who had 24 points against Duke and 16 in the comeback win over UNC.
Tech had never won more than one game in its NCAA tournament history, but the Jackets proceeded to reel off victories over Mercer, Syracuse, and Illinois before earning a date with a top-ranked Georgetown. Tech lost to the Hoyas by six points in the regional final and concluded the record-breaking year.