Oct. 27, 2004
ATLANTA – Marking the end of two weeks of preseason practice, Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team will conduct an intrasquad scrimmage Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. at Alexander Memorial Coliseum that will be open to the public.
The Yellow Jackets, looking to continue on the momentum built on last season’s 28-10 campaign and a run to the national championship game, will have a live scrimmage with officials. It leads into the annual HoopsFest celebration at the Thrillerdome in which both the men’s and the women’s teams will sign autographs and take pictures with fans. There is no admission charge for either event.
Players and coaches meets fans for an hour from 5 – 6 p.m. in the Coliseum concourse area. There will be a costume contest for kids, for which the grand prize includes a basketball autographed by Coach Paul Hewitt and Coach MaChelle Joseph, two tickets to a men’s game, a women’s coupon book, a T-shirt and a hat. There will also be free candy and interactive games.
Fans may enter the Coliseum through Gates 2 and 3 for the events, and are invited to stick around after afterward to see Tech Volleyball host Miami at O’Keefe Gym at 7 p.m.
Tech, a consensus top-10 team in the preseason college basketball magazines, has a solid core of six returning players, including returning starters Jarrett Jack at point guard, B.J. Elder on the wing, Anthony McHenry at power forward and Luke Schenscher at center. Super subs Isma’il Muhammad and Will Bynum, both seniors, join the four to give the Yellow Jackets an experienced group.
“Practice has gone well. They’ve been workmanlike,” said Hewitt on Wednesday. “They’ve done what they have to do, and overall I’m pleased with how they’re progressing.”
Elder, Jack and Schenscher are all on the preseason list for the John Wooden Award, given to the nation’s best player at the end of each season. Elder, a 6-4 senior from Madison, Ga., was Tech’s top scorer a year ago at 14.9 points per game, with Jack, a 6-3 junior from Fort Washington, Md., next at 12.5 points and 5.6 assists per game. Schenscher, a 7-1 senior from Hope Forest, South Australia, averaged 9.2 points and was Tech’s top rebounder at 6.6 per game.
Jack, in particular, has drawn a lot of preseason attention as one of the nation’s premier point guards.
“Jarrett’s an outstanding player,” said Hewitt. “He’s leading more on the court, and he’s much more vocal now. I can’t think of anything right now that I can say I wish he was doing better.”
Muhammad, a 6-6 forward from Atlanta, and Bynum, a 6-0 guard from Chicago, both averaged better than nine points a game last season and were Tech’s sparkplugs off the bench. One of them likely will fill the vacancy in Tech’s starting lineup left by graduated senior Marvin Lewis, the Jackets’ top three-point shooter last season. Mario West, a 6-4 guard from Douglasville, Ga., adds depth and good defensive skills to Tech’s backcourt.
Head coach Paul Hewitt also is counting on help in the frontcourt from a healthy and improved Theodis Tarver, a 6-9 center-forward from Monroe, La., who missed 13 games last season with a dislocated kneecap. Tarver, who earned a place in the starting lineup for Tech’s three NIT games his freshman year, has played very well during the early practices.
“Theodis is running the court very well, and coming off the injury, one of the things we thought about was how his mobility would be affected. So far it has not been. He’s scoring well. He’s showing an increased level of skill that I attribute to his work in our individual instruction program.”
Four freshmen will get a long look towards giving Tech the kind of depth it enjoyed during last season’s run. The class of 6-6 forward Jeremis Smith of Fort Worth, Texas, 6-9 forward-center Ra’Sean Dickey of Clio, S.C., 6-5 swingman Anthony Morrow of Charlotte, N.C., and 6-0 guard Zam Fredrick of St. Matthews, S.C., were rated the second-best recruiting class in the ACC.
“They’re bright. They’re picking up things probably a little quicker than I expected them to,” said Hewitt. “The reason for that is probably that we have veteran guys who can talk them through things on the court. They are able to help them when they see breakdowns.
“They’re all displaying at different times, abilities to help us. Zam and Anthony have started to shoot the ball very well. Jeremis has surprised us with his ability to shoot the ball. All of them need to work on their defense. That’s the one thing that is glaring. In order for them to make significant contributions, they need to be able to guard, and I tell them that all the time.”
Tech will play a pair of exhibition games, Nov. 6 against Kennesaw State and Nov. 14 against LeMoyne, both at 2 p.m., before opening the regular season at home Nov. 19 against Alabama State.
TECH ADDS TWO WALK-ONS
From a tryout on October 20, the Yellow Jackets have added two walk-on players to the roster in 6-3 forward Stavros Simos, a freshman from Athens, Greece, and 6-0 guard Tyler Davis, a freshman from Grayson, Ga.
Along with walk-on guard Keith Jones, a 6-2 guard from Austell, Ga., who joined the team last year and red-shirted, that give Tech 15 players on its roster for the 2004-05 season.
JACKETS GET PRESEASON ATTENTION
Georgia Tech’s position in the top 10 of all the preseason rankings has attracted plenty of attention for the Yellow Jackets during the month of October.
ESPN the Magazine will publish a profile on senior center Luke Schenscher in one of its November issues, while Sports Illustrated is focusing on Schenscher for its scouting report on the Jackets in its college basketball preview issue. The Sporting News magazine will publish a piece on Schenscher breaking down his hook shot.
ESPN.com’s Andy Katz made Tech one of the visits on his preseason tour of campuses, and ESPN television’s Jay Bilas was on campus Monday to tape an in-depth interview with head coach Paul Hewitt and film the team’s practice for a feature package to air sometime in November.
Another ESPN crew was in town the week prior to the start of practice to tape a feature in Isma’il Muhammad’s dunking prowess for an X-Games-style feature that is to air during halftime or pre-game shows during the season.
Muhammad, Schenscher and Jarrett Jack will be the team’s representatives Sunday, along with Hewitt, at the annual ACC Operation Basketball media session, at which the attending media will vote on a predicted order of finish for the league and a preseason all-conference team. Tech was voted seventh in last year’s preseason poll of media.