Nov. 12, 2011
By Matt Winkeljohn
If a certain writer were a country music fan he would, at the very next paragraph, reference some Carrie Underwood or Randy Travis croonage to highlight his predictive ability.
The men’s basketball team routed Florida A&M 92-59 Friday night in what was not only a season opener, but the curtain lifter for Brian Gregory as coach of the olde Gold & White.
Drumming the Rattlers was not a big deal.
Several side stories were more important, none more than this: minutes before the Gregory’s first game as Tech’s coach even tipped off, he announced that his best player would be suspended for three games.
It’s been written here before that Mr. Gregory is not going to run his program like Mr. Robinson’s neighborhood, which is to say in a way that student-athletes can just do what they do.
Very rarely recently have Tech men’s basketball players willfully sloughed off in the class room or otherwise, but you know what? It’s going to take more than a just-get-by approach on the Flats if you play for BG.
Rice is probably the Yellow Jackets’ most talented player.
But he’s also, uh, the most enigmatic.
There’s a delicate line to be walked here because this is not a newspaper. It’s a Tech-oriented publication.
That said, Rice is not a kid. He’s a young adult, and accountability – as we’ve all learned from recent events in college athletics – matters.
Inside information: this indecent behavior is not new.
New information: BG is not going to play that game, nor address crummy situations by merely pulling someone out of the starting lineup and/or cutting minutes.
Rice will forever be the first public example made by Gregory at Tech.
“It was a team violation and guys are learning that there’s consequences . . . and there’s also going to be growth,” Gregory said. “We’re going to help him grow through this and then move on from there.”
Let’s hope so. There were positive signs Friday beyond Gregory’s meting out of discipline. Center Daniel Miller knew what he wanted to do, freshman Julian Royal made it clear he may be able to contribute on a regular basis, and the same seems true of transfer Brandon Reed.
In the interest of transparency, the Jackets are likely scuffle against top-shelf competition.
But it looked from Friday night like they’re going to scuffle, period. They’re going to battle. And if you take the hint that under-appreciative and under-respectful players will not be allowed to just . . . be . . . again, good sign.
Read between the lines.
There are signs. From the way Tech inbounded Friday, spread the floor at others, switched on defense and more.
Gregory said, “I think they’re still feeling their way . . .”
Better learn BG’s way, or you’re not going to play.
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