Dec. 6, 2002
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s basketball team returns to New York for the first time in four years Saturday to face Marist at 2:30 p.m. at Madison Square Garden. The contest will be the middle game of a college basketball tripleheader pitting Yale vs. Manhattan in the opener and St. John’s vs. Fordham in the nightcap.
The Yellow Jackets are 3-1 following a 64-63 loss to 20th-ranked Minnesota in Minneapolis Wednesday night in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Tech is looking for its first 4-1 start since head coach Paul Hewitt’s first season in 2000-01.
The game will be televised by the Madison Square Garden Network, but will not be available in the Atlanta area except via satellite. The Georgia Tech-ISP Radio Network broadcast, featuring the call of Wes Durham and Randy Waters, can be heard in Atlanta on WQXI-AM (790) and WMGP-FM (98.1).
Saturday’s game with Marist will be the 23rd for Georgia Tech at Madison Square Garden, the world’s most famous arena, but the first since Dec. 27, 1998, when the Yellow Jackets won a third-place game from Iona (72-65) in the ECAC Holiday Festival.
“I’m familiar with (head coach) Dave Magarity’s teams from my time at Siena,” said Hewitt. “They will be a team that handles the ball very well. They play two guys who are capable of playing the point at the same time. They always shoot the ball well and execute their halfcourt offense very well, similar to Georgia and Minnesota.”
Georgia Tech is 14-8 all-time in the Garden, having played in four Holiday Festival events (1986, 1993, 1996 and 1998), two Pre-Season NIT final fours (1991, 1995), two post-season NIT events (1970-71) and four other regular-season games. Its first game at the arena was in 1948 against Long Island University; the rest have occurred since 1970. Tech’s most frequent opponent in the Garden has been St. John’s (four times).
For Hewitt, as well as his staff members who are from New York, the Garden is a familiar place. Hewitt’s Siena teams played three times there, and the Villanova teams that he was involved with played there many times. The third year Tech coach wants to improve the Yellow Jackets’ recruiting ties there.
“From a recruiting standpoint, to bring Georgia Tech back to New York City is important,” said Hewitt. “We’ve had a great relationship with the city with Kenny Anderson, John Salley, Stephon Marbury, to name a few. It’s something we need to try and rekindle.”
Tech has not had a New York native in its starting lineup since Eddie Elisma, Gary Saunders and Kevin Morris suited up for the Yellow Jackets in 1996-97.
Georgia Tech’s playing rotation includes two juniors, five sophomores and three freshmen. In the Yellow Jackets’ last game, a 64-63 loss Wednesday night at Minnesota, the starting lineup was comprised of three sophomores and two freshmen.
Freshmen Chris Bosh, a 6-10 forward/center from Lancaster, Tecas, and Jarrett Jack, a 6-3 point guard from Fort Washington, Md., have started all four games along with 6-6 sophomore forward Isma’il Muhammad (Atlanta, Ga.). Bosh leads Tech in scoring (18.5), rebounding (12.0) and field goal percentage (55.8), recording a “double-double” in all four games so far. Jack has played well at the point, averaging an even 10 points and 7 assists per game while leading the team in steals (7) and hitting 52.2 percent of his shots from the floor. Muhammad, noted more for his defense, averages 9.0 points and 6.3 rebounds.
Marvin Lewis, a 6-4 junior guard from Germantown, Md., who is the ACC’s top returning three-point shooter, averages 12.5 points and 3.3 assists; and 6-8 sophomore forward Ed Nelson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) averages 9.5 points and 7.5 rebounds. Both players started Tech’s first three games, but were replaced in the lineup Wednesday by 6-4 sophomore guard B.J. Elder (Madison, Ga.) and 7-1 sophomore center Luke Schenscher (Hope Forest, South Australia). Elder, who missed the season opener against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, has averaged 16.0 points and shot 48.8 percent from the floor in three games, while Schenscher has averaged 6.3 points and 4.8 rebounds.
Nelson came off the bench to score 17 points with eight rebounds at Minnesota after starting the season slowly. Lewis, who notched a career high 28 points against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, has averaged just 7.1 points in the three games since. He scored nine points with two assists Wednesday at Minnesota.
Tech is expected to start the same five Saturday against Marist.
“Luke got in a little foul trouble early when they went to a smaller lineup. B.J. did what we expected him to do,” said Hewitt. “We still need to improve our ball movement, so we’re going to continue with the lineup we played the other night. Luke is one of our best passers out of the low post, and we need to involve him in the game. Even though he only played 15 or so minutes the other night, we got our best looks at the basket against their zone when he was in there. Isma’il and B.J. give us a nice balance of offense and defense.”
Tech also gets help off the bench from 6-7 sophomore Anthony McHenry (Birmingham, Ala.), an excellent defensive player averaging 2.0 point and 2.5 rebounds, and 6-8 junior forward Robert Brooks (Saginaw, Mich.), averaging 1.5 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.
Tech and Marist are meeting for just the third time, and in the third different venue, and the Yellow Jackets have won both prior encounters. The Jackets defeated the Red Foxes 86-77 in the teams’ most recent meeting on Jan. 2, 1990, at Alexander Memorial Coliseum on the Tech campus.
The first time the teams faced each other was in the 1986 NCAA Southeast Regional first round, when Tech won 68-53 at the Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, La. That Marist team was led by 7-3 future NBA center Rik Smits, who scored a game-high 22 points.
The Yellow Jackets will be off for a week following Saturday’s game for fall semester final exams. Tech will resume play Sunday, Dec. 15, at 4 p.m. against Tennessee at Philips Arena.