Nov. 8, 2012
Jon Cooper, Sting Daily –
It’s the start of a new era for Georgia Tech, which opens its 2012-13 season and unveils brand new McCamish Pavilion when it takes on the Green Wave of Tulane. Tip-off is at 7:00 p.m.
For the Yellow Jackets, it’s also the start of Year Two of the Brian Gregory era. Tech has plenty to prove, as it was picked ninth in the ACC in preseason polls but returns all five starters from last season’s squad that went 11-20 (4-12 in the ACC). Senior point guard Mfon Udofia (9.9 ppg, 2.8 apg) and big men Kammeon Holsey and Daniel Miller lead the Jackets, who return seven letter-winners in all and brought in an exciting group of newcomers, which includes forward Robert Carter and guard Chris Bolden, both freshmen and Georgia natives.
The Green Wave begins its 103rd season looking to bounce back from a 2011-12 season, in which they also struggled, finishing 15-16, and dead last in Conference USA, with a 3-13 conference record. They’ll have an experienced squad, with eight players that made a start last season and five players who made at least 15 starts. TU’s big gun is All-C-USA First-Team selection Ricky Tarrant.
Tonight’s game will be the 69th meeting in a series that began in 1909 and saw the schools meet annually as members of both the Southeastern Conference (1932-64) then the Metro (1975-78). The Jackets lead the series, 35-33, and are 20-11 in Atlanta, but have dropped the last three meetings.
The can be seen on the ACC Network, with Tom Werme and Cory Alexander calling the action. Of course, fans can listen to Wes Durham and Randy Waters on Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network’s flagship stations WQXI-AM (790 the Zone) and WYAY (106.7 FM). Tech fans can always follow the game and get live stats on Ramblinwreck.com.
And now, the starting five for today’s season-opening game.
The Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech fought back from a 10-point second-half deficit but allowed a game-closing 6-0 run and fell to Tulane, 57-52, last Dec. 3 at Fogelman Arena. The Yellow Jackets held Tulane to 30.8 percent shooting and only 20.0 percent in the second half, allowing themselves to take a 52-51 lead on a Kammeon Holsey layup with 1:57 to go. But Green Wave forward Kendall Timmons made a steal and converted a breakaway dunk with 43 seconds remaining to give Tulane the lead for good. Jason Morris led the Jackets with 12 points and Glen Rice Jr. added an 11-point, 11-rebound double-double, adding a game-high five assists and four blocks.
Saluting the Past: While Georgia Tech christens McCamish Pavilion it also will recognize some of the greats that helped give Alexander Memorial Coliseum the nickname “Thriller Dome.” Approximately 125 greats are expected, including longtime head coach Bobby Cremins, Roger Kaiser, Tech’s first All-American, Rich Yunkus, the school’s all-time leading scorer, John Salley, Yvon Joseph and Bruce Dalrymple, better knows as “The Thin Gold Line” from the 1985 team, Drew Barry, Travis Best, and James Forrest, who will represent the 1993 ACC Champions, Matt Harpring and Michael Maddox from the 1996 ACC regular-season champs, and, last but not least, the starting unit from 1990 ACC Champions and Final Four team — the trio of Kenny Anderson, Brian Oliver and Dennis Scott, aka, “Lethan Weapon 3,” as well as the starting front line of Malcolm Mackey and Johnny McNeil.
Homegrown Talent: Georgia Tech prides itself on recruiting Georgia first. They can be proud of their efforts, as 13 of the 14 players on the Yellow Jackets roster are from the Peach State. That includes all five freshmen brought in this year, 6-5 guard/forward and College Park native Marcus Georges-Hunt (North Clayton High School), 6-8 forward and Thomasville native Robert Carter, (Shiloh), 6-3 guard and Tifton native Chris Bolden (North Gwinnett), 6-4 guard and Atlanta native Brooks Doyle (Marist) and 6-1 guard and Duluth native Corey Heyward (Peachtree Ridge/Hargrave Military Academy), who may miss the season as he recovers from a torn left ACL. The only non-Georgian on the roster is 6-4 1/2 guard Stacey Poole. The transfer from Kentucky, who hails from Jacksonville, Fla., will be eligible to play on Dec. 17.
An Inside Job: The Yellow Jackets will look to go inside-out offensively and have a pair of reliable options in Kammeon Holsey and Daniel Miller. Last season, Holsey shot a team-high 59 percent and was second in conference play, shooting 51.8 percent. He reached double-figures in six of the Jackets’ last nine games and led the team in scoring four times. Miller had eight double-figure-scoring games in the Jackets’ last nine games, shooting 60.3 percent and converting at 80 percent from the line. He also had 20 blocks nine assists and nine steals in those nine games. Over Tech’s final 10 games, the duo combined for 21. 5 points (Holsey 11.4, Miller, 10.1), shot 57.6 percent, 70.8 from the line. In tonight’s game, both can reach 400 career-points, as Holsey needs seven points to get there, while Miller is 11 away.
No Opening Night Jitters: The home opener has been very good to Georgia Tech since joining the ACC in 1979-80. Tech is 30-2 in its home debut. Since Bobby Cremins took over in 1981-82, the Jackets have lost but one time, the 2008 season opener, an 83-74 loss on Nov. 9, 2007, against University of North Carolina-Greensboro. Cremins, whose final home opener with Tech came in 1999-2000, a 91-79 victory over Mercer on Nov. 19, 1999, never lost a home opener, going 19-0.
The Sixth Man: McCamish Pavilion will be Georgia Tech’s 15th home facility. The Yellow Jackets are 6-8 in their openers in those facilities, but have won three of the last four games. Amongst the facilities in which they’ve played are: Peachtree Auditorium in 1905-06 (a 26-6 loss to Auburn), the Cable Piano Company Hall (1908-09, a 28-7 win over Mercer), Crystal Palace (1912-13, a 26-22 loss to Clemson), City Auditorium (1919-20, a 29-24 loss to Auburn), Atlanta Athletic Club (1919-20, a 30-26 win over Mercer), the Luckie Street YMCA (1919-20, a 44-33 win over Stetson), Temporary Gym (1924-25, a 23-22 loss to the Atlanta Athletic Club — they would lose their next game, 20-18, to Clemson), Naval Armory (1935, a 35-32 loss to Clemson), Heisman Gym (1938-39, a 30-28 loss to Mercer). All those came prior to the opening of Alexander Memorial Coliseum in 1956. Tech lost that opener, 71-61, to Duke. The Jackets stayed at AMC until 1995-96, when the Jackets opened the season at the Georgia Dome, while Alexander underwent renovations. They would also play at the Omni. In their home opener at the Dome, Tech beat Manhattan, 82-67, as part of the Preseason NIT, then, later in November, in their Omni opener, topped Campbell, 87-76. The Jackets stayed at Thriller Dome until last season, when the Jackets split time at The Arena at Gwinnett, beating Florida A&M in the season opener, 92-59, then, losing their Philips Arena opener, 76-60, to Northwesters, as part of the ACC-Big 10 Challenge.
GEORGIA TECH LEADING RETURNING SCORER: Mfon Udofia, 9.9 ppg
TULANE LEADING RETURNING SCORER: Ricky Tarrant, 14.9 ppg
GEORGIA TECH LEADING RETURNING REBOUNDER: Daniel Miller, 6.5 rpg
TULANE LEADING RETURNING REBOUNDER: Josh Davis, 9.3 rpg
GEORGIA TECH PPG: 60.2 ppg
OPP. PPG: 62.6 ppg.
TULANE PPG: 64.6 ppg
OPP. PPG: 61.6 ppg.
Tulane Player to Watch: Ricky Tarrant. The 6-2, 190-pound sophomore guard was named preseason All-Conference USA First-Team for 2012-13 after being named C-USA Freshman of the Year and an All-Conference selection last year. Tarrant earned those accolades, leading the team in scoring (14.9 ppg), assists (3.3 apg) and steals (1.7 spg). A .784 percent free throw shooter, Tarrant got to the line a team-high 167 times and was second on the team with 52 three-point field goals. He tormented Georgia Tech in last season’s meeting, scoring a game-high 24 points on 7-of-11 shooting, making 6-of-7 from three. He also hit two free throws with 25 seconds left to help ice the game.