Oct. 20, 2009
ATLANTA – Through the first six practices Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team has held, head coach Paul Hewitt sees plenty he likes about his 2009-10 unit.
As the Yellow Jackets move toward their first public intrasquad scrimmage (6 p.m. Saturday at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at the Henry F. McCamish, Jr., Basketball Complex), the 10th-year coach has seen significant improvement from his veteran players and has been impressed with some of his freshmen.
“We’re a much better rebounding team, our depth is outstanding,” said Hewitt following the team’s sixth practice on Monday. “We have a chance to be a very good rebounding team with Gani Lawal, Zachery Peacock, Derrick Favors, of course, along with Brad Sheehan and Daniel Miller, who has been the most pleasant surprise in practice so far.
“If we take care of the basketball, and if we defend and rebound well, our offensive talent has a chance to really help our basketball team.”
Among the freshmen, Hewitt has been most impressed with the no-nonsense demeanor of 6-9 forward Derrick Favors of Atlanta, and 6-2 point guard Mfon Udofia of Stone Mountain, Ga., who will push for significant playing time. Daniel Miller, a 6-11 center from Loganville, Ga., has also shown promise with his rebounding and physical nature.
“[Favors] plays hard. He doesn’t say much on the court. He plays through fouls, plays through contact, and continues to get to the next play,” said Hewitt. “Mfon is showing some great leadership and athleticism. Daniel has done a great job rebounding and scoring around the basket. He’s also done a great job in the weight room, and put on 10 or 15 pounds. I’ve got to give (strength and conditioning coach) Scott McDonald a lot of credit. [Miller] is playing at around 257 pounds right now, and eventually you could see him playing at around 265 or 270.”
Senior forward Zachery Peacock has returned without the knee problems that plagued him throughout last season, when the lack of depth on the perimeter forced Hewitt to employ the 6-8 player at small forward early in the year. Peacock averaged 9.2 points and 4.8 rebounds a year ago, and will be a significant part of the post rotation with Lawal, Favors and Sheehan.
“(The veterans have) all shown great improvement,” said Hewitt. “I love what I see out of Zach Peacock. He’s healthy, and his knees don’t bother him at all. He looks terrific and is playing well.”
Through the early practices, Hewitt has grouped all the freshmen together when dividing his squad for all-out scrimmages, and the veteran players have won all those scrimmages by lopsided scores. For the rest of this week’s practices and Saturday’s scrimmage, he will mix the teams differently.
“I want to see an effort level, and I don’t want to see us being sloppy with the basketball,” he said. “If we take care of the basketball and the effort level is there, then that will translate into solid defensive play.”