March 16, 2012
By Matt Winkeljohn
Brian Gregory had the window open in his third-floor office Thursday at Georgia Tech, and the scent of a nearby grill — courtesy of a fraternity house — wafted in to over a hint of the joys of spring.
The Georgia Tech basketball coach was not joyous. The television in there had the NCAA Tournament on, and he was watching, “to make myself angry,” Gregory said.
Plus, the temperature was about 90 in there. It was not a pleasant place.
Gregory wants to take the Yellow Jackets back to the NCAA Tournament, and he has a long way to go to do it. He knows that.
The Jackets’ season, his first on The Flats, did not go well. Tech won 11 games, and finished in arrears of everyone in the ACC.
The coach, and most fans, knew it would be a difficult season. In ways, it was more difficult than he’d imagined.
Sting Daily will take a look back over the course of two or three stories, but first we’ll look forward a little bit. There will be no numbers today.
The Jackets will return a big chunk of their roster, minus former walk-ons Derek Craig and Nick Foreman. Junior Glen Rice Jr. has been dismissed from the program, and will either transfer or perhaps pursue a professional career.
If anyone else is going to transfer, that hasn’t become clear yet.
Bottom line, there will be great familiarity next season with Gregory’s systems, and he’s welcoming in a stout recruiting class of three local student-athletes, a group likely to grow by a point guard (not likely local) before all is said and done.
Stacey Poole has transferred from Kentucky, too, although he won’t be eligible to play until the second semester next season.
So all five players who were starting at the end of the season are expected back, barring transfers or something like that.
Yet there will be new blood.
Gregory hopes there will be some new themes as well, and fans likely to be interested in this:
“Defensively, I had hoped to be able to pressure more [this season],” he said. “I think [next season] we’ll be able to play much closer to how I eventually would like us to play … dictate pressure.
“We’ll never gamble a lot; that’s not how we play, but also play a much faster pace on offense — not wild, but I think next year we’ll be able to take more steps toward that point.”
While the on-court results were not impressive this season, Gregory sees silver linings.
He made it clear from well before the season began that his chief goal was installing his operating systems. That mission, he said, has been largely accomplished with Rice being fallout from the Gregory method of accountability.
“You obviously always want to win more games so I think the guys have tangible evidence that what we’re doing and what we’re talking about and how we’re going to go about things is certainly going to bring some results,” he said. “So much of what we needed to accomplish was below-the-surface stuff.
“What I feel good about … I think to a man, the guys … are excited about getting ready for spring and summer, and excited about the progress each of them made individually. When you look at that, the improvement is off the charts.”
We’ll get to specific improvements and areas of need soon. Be mindful that Gregory said [regarding on-court activities]: “How [we] do things at times next year will be different than what they had this year.” Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.