Nov. 11, 2001
ATLANTA – Looking to improve defensively from its first exhibition outing Thursday, Georgia Tech closes out its exhibition basketball schedule Monday night with a 7 p.m. game against the EA Sports All-Stars at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s Center.
The game will be broadcast live on Tech’s student station WREK-FM (91.1).
The EA Sports Southeast team, which comes to Atlanta having played 11 games in 12 days, is 1-9 after a 111-98 loss at Georgia Sunday and a 110-92 loss at Florida State Saturday. The team’s lone win was a 107-76 trouncing of North Carolina.
Head coach Paul Hewitt is looking for improvement on the defensive end for the Yellow Jackets, who dropped their first exhibition, 99-90, to the Nike Elite All-Stars Thursday night. The Nike Elite team shot 51.4 percent from the floor, 46.4 percent from three-point range.
“You can’t just give up 99 points, I don’t care who it is,” said Hewitt. “They had a bunch of good shooters, but there’s no excuse for us giving up that many points. It was just effort, playing hard. You have a group of young guys who need to understand the intensity level you have to bring to each game, each situation.
“Part of that blame falls to me and my staff. What we’ve done in the early part of practice hasn’t been intense enough or clear enough to get the point across that you have to come ready to play defense every possession, every time down the floor. Some of the stuff was press-related, how to adjust when the ball gets to certain areas of the floor, that we haven’t worked on yet. I expect us to do better on those.”
Down 51-35 at halftime, Tech rallied to lead 84-83 with 3:55 to play, but the Nike team ran off 12 straight points coming out of the 4-minute media timeout.
“We have to understand the quality of players we’re going to see night in and night out will only get better,” Hewitt said. “I’m glad we got a chance to watch the tape of the game Friday. We didn’t practice at all. We got a lot out of that, and I saw a lot of improvement in practice yesterday and today.
“We’ll see how it goes. Monday night we’re going to play another good shooting team, another good offensive team. It’ll be another good test for us.”
Guards Tony Akins, a 5-11 senior from Lilburn, Ga., and Marvin Lewis, a 6-4 sophomore from Germantown, Md., gave Tech a strong performance offensively with 21 points each. Akins had nine assists and just two turnovers, while Lewis had three assists and just two turnovers. Clarence Moore, a 6-5 sophomore forward from Norco, La., scored 12 points with seven rebounds, and freshman Ed Nelson, a 6-7 forward from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., scored 17 with seven rebounds in just 17 minutes off the bench.
Freshman Luke Schenscher, a 7-foot center from Hope Forest, Australia, had a rough time in his first outing with just two points (1-for-7 from the floor) and six rebounds, and Robert Brooks, a 6-8 sophomore from Saginaw, Mich., had four points (2-for-8) and six boards.
Tech shot just 41.8 percent from the floor, 26.9 percent from three-point range, but Hewitt is confident in his team’s offensive capabilities.
“I think we have a good scoring unit,” he said. “I think we have the type of team that can manufacture points in a lot of different ways. We have to do better at taking care of the ball. We had 14 turnovers, I think that was misleading because there were a lot of deflected passes that, had they been clean passes, would have led to more scores.”
Akins, Lewis, Moore, Schenscher and freshman B.J. Elder, a 6-3 freshman from Madison, Ga., who scored five points on 2-of-7 shooting, made up the starting lineup for the Nike Elite game. But Hewitt indicated he might experiment with his starting lineup for Monday and beyond.
“I’m still open,” Hewitt said. “This might be a year, and unusual year for me, where you might see different lineups depending on game situations.”
After Monday, Tech prepares for its regular-season opener Friday at 7:30 p.m. against Florida A&M. The game is the back end of a double-header with the women’s team, which meets Kansas State at 5:30 p.m.