Jan. 19, 2009
ATLANTA – Still in search of its first Atlantic Coast Conference victory, Georgia Tech hosts Boston College in a regionally-televised game at 7 p.m. Tuesday night at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
Tickets for this game and all remaining home games are available starting at $30 online at www.ramblinwreck.com/tickets. Tickets can also be purchased on game nights beginning 90 minutes before tipoff at gate 1 of Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
The game will be televised on the ACC’s regional sports cable network, including FS South in Atlanta, Sun Sports in Florida, Comcast SportsNet in the Mid-Atlantic areas, and NESN in New England. Radio coverage is provided by the Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network, and can be heard in Atlanta on flagship station WQXI-AM (790), Tech student station WREK-FM (91.1) and WTSH-FM (107.1). The radio broadcast is also available nationally on XM Radio (Ch. 191).
Tech (9-8 overall, 0-4 ACC), looking to snap a three-game losing streak, is the only ACC team without a win in conference play. The Yellow Jackets have dropped three of their ACC games after holding late leads (Virginia, Maryland, NC State), and lost two of those in overtime, including Saturday’s 76-71 defeat at NC State. Tech’s only win in its last five games was a 67-62 homecourt win over Georgia on Jan. 6.
Boston College (13-6, 1-3 ACC), which defeated top-ranked North Carolina on the road on Jan. 4, has lost four straight games since then, including a 79-71 decision Saturday at Virginia Tech. The Eagles have also lost to Harvard, Miami and Wake Forest since the win over the Tar Heels. The teams have played no common opponents.
Tech is 0-4 in the ACC for the first time since the 2001-02 season, when it began the conference slate with seven straight losses, but recovered to win seven of the last nine and finish 7-9. The Jackets began last season 0-3, and also finished 7-9.
Free throw shooting and/or turnovers have been the primary culprits in Tech’s 0-4 conference start. The Jackets have shot 53.7 percent from the charity stripe in league games, and averaged 20.0 turnovers. As a result, Tech has failed to protect late leads in three of its four losses.
The Yellow Jackets have struggled to score consistently since a trip to California just before Christmas, averaging 67.0 points over its last eight games, 63.8 over its last four. Tech scored less than 60 points twice this year.
Georgia Tech was picked to finish eighth in the ACC by the media at the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Operation Basketball media gathering. The Yellow Jackets are coming off a 15-17 season (7-9, tie for seventh in the ACC) from which only six players with starting experience return, one of whom is not available to play due to injury.
Jackets Watch Late Leads Vanish
Georgia Tech held leads of as many as 10 points inside of 10 minutes to go in each of its Atlantic Coast Conference losses on the road, and lost a five-point advantage in the final five minutes against Virginia.
Virginia – Tech led 69-64 with 3:45 to go, and 72-69 with 36 seconds left when Iman Shumpert missed two free throws, giving the Cavaliers a chance at a game-tying three-pointer by Jamil Tucker with 15 seconds to go.
Maryland – Tech led 50-40 with 9:44 left, then misses nine of 13 shots and committed five turnovers down the stretch. The Terps went on a 13-2 run to take the lead over the next 2-1/2 minutes and never looked back.
NC State – Tech led 64-54 with 4:40 to go, then committed three turnovers and missed all three of its field goal attempts from that point.
Tech Finally at “Full” Strength
Georgia Tech has fielded a “full” roster for only two games this season – the last two against Duke and NC State. Sophomore point guard Moe Miller returned to the court Jan. 10 at Maryland after a seven-game absence due to a broken nose, and Zachery Peacock, who missed that game with a stomach ailment, returned for the Jan. 14 Duke game.
Because of a spinal injury to D’Andre Bell before the beginning of pre-season practice, Tech has played this entire season with just nine scholarship players. But even without considering Bell’s absence, the Yellow Jackets played their first 15 games this season with less than the full roster that began the regular season.
Senior guard Lewis Clinch did not make his 2008-09 debut for the Yellow Jackets until Dec. 17 against Georgia State after being academically ineligible for fall semester and missing the first seven games. Miller, a sophomore point guard, missed the next seven games due to a mild concussion and a nasal fracture suffered in Tech’s Dec. 14 loss to UIC.
With Miller cleared to play Jan. 10 against Maryland, Peacock woke up ill with a stomach ailment and did not dress for the game (he was checked out at a local hospital and was fine by Sunday).
Miller had successful surgery to repair his fracture Wednesday, Dec. 17, returned to practice Jan. 8, and is wearing a specially-fitted mask. The Memphis, Tenn., native was third in the ACC in assists this season (5.7 pg) while averaging 7.8 points at the time of his injury.
Clinch has averaged 13.4 points while hitting 27.4 of his three-point attempts. The Cordele, Ga., native also has averaged 3.0 assists, having to play several minutes a game at point guard in the absence of Miller.
Tech’s current starting lineup (Clinch, Shumpert, Peacock, Aminu, Lawal) has an aggregate 153 career starts. That’s fewer than 31 per player. Alade Aminu is Tech’s active leader in games played with 91, followed by Lewis Clinch with 79 and Zachery Peacock with 74.
Not even Tech’s walk-on group has been immune this season – Derek Craig missed time in the pre-season with two concussions, Sam Shew has missed practice time recently with a concussion, and Ty Anderson has not been able to practice or play since fall semester ended due to a viral infeciton and a back injury.
Series With Boston College
> Georgia Tech won the only regular-season meeting between the two teams each of the past two years, 74-60 in Atlanta in 2006-07 and 86-78 in Chestnut Hill in 2007-08, giving the Yellow Jackets a 7-2 all-time lead in the series, and a 3-1 mark since the Eagles became members of the ACC.
> The teams split two meetings in 2005-06, each team winning at home in BC’s first season in the ACC. The teams meet twice this year, with Tech traveling to Chestnut Hill on Mar. 7 for its final regular season game.
> Only two of the nine meetings have been decided by double-digit margins. Six of the contests have been decided by three points or fewer.
> The four meetings in Boston have been played at three different venues. The Jan. 29, 2005 game was Tech’s first visit to the Conte Forum, BC’s current home court. The first game in the series on Dec. 31, 1946, was played at Boston Arena, and the teams also played in the Boston Garden on Jan. 19, 1980.
> Prior to the 2005-06 season, the teams met four times on neutral floors, including one outside the United States, a 65-62 overtime win for the Yellow Jackets in the 1986 Suntory Ball in Tokyo, Japan.
> The teams have met twice in NCAA Tournament competition, both of them won by Tech. The Yellow Jackets downed the Eagles, 103-89, in the 1996 Southeast Regional second round in Orlando, and eliminated the Eagles two seasons ago, 57-54 in the second round in Milwaukee.
Quick Look at Tech
Head coach Paul Hewitt’s regular starting lineup for nine of the last 10 games has included senior Lewis Clinch and freshman Iman Shumpert at guard, with junior Zachery Peacock, senior Alade Aminu and sophomore Gani Lawal along the front line.
Moe Miller, Tech’s sophomore point guard, missed seven games due to a nasal fracture sustained in Tech’s game with UIC. He returned to the court Jan. 10, but has not returned to the starting lineup.
Tech has been led this season by post players Lawal and Aminu, who rank 1-3 on the team in scoring (15.8 and 12.5 ppg, respectively) and 1-2 in rebounding (10.4 and 8.9 pg). The two players rank 1-4 in the ACC in rebounding, and in the ACC’s top five in field goal percentage, combining to make 54.1 percent of their shots from the floor.
Clinch has started the last 10 games after missing the first seven games due to academic ineligibility. He has scored in double digits in nine of the 10, averaging 13.9 points a game, while also logging minutes at point guard (3.0 apg). Shumpert, the primary point guard in Miller’s absence, averages 11.6 points and is third in the ACC in assist average (5.8 pg).
With Bell, Miller and Clinch out for extended periods of time, Peacock has been asked to utilize his outside shooting and defensive abilities at the small forward spot. He averages 10.5 points and a career-best 6.0 rebounds per game.
Sophomore Lance Storrs (4.8 ppg, 43.8 pct. from three-point range) and freshman walk-on Nick Foreman (2.0 ppg) have been key reserves in the backcourt, Storrs for his shooting ability and Foreman for his defense. Brad Sheehan, a 7-foot sophomore averaging 3.8 points and 2.5 rebounds, is averaging more than 12 minutes a game off the bench in the post, and Bassirou Dieng (1.2 ppg in nine games) provides additional depth.
Quoting Coach Hewitt – From Monday’s ACC Teleconference
On what you thought of the Georgia Dome as an ACC Tournament venue in 2001 – “It was like coaching in the Final Four, because of everything from driving to the Dome that day. The weather was nice and all the people were out. We had an afternoon game, we had a very exciting atmosphere, and our players enjoyed it.”
On the one-and-done player in college basketball – “You’ve got to take a young man and see if he’s the type of person you want around your program. Of the three kids we’ve had who have done it, none of them came out and said I’m here one year and then I’m gone. I think it evolved that way. I’m not sure I’d recruit somebody who openly says I’m gone after one year. Honestly, I’ve had kids who felt like they were going to be here a long time, and then once they get there, they try everything they can to get out. That’s all part of teaching the game to kids in today’s basketball culture.
“I’m just going to try and find the players who can best fit what we’re trying to do here academically. I’ve also noticed kids who’ve said they were going to leave after one year, and they’re still in school. There are kids out there who told people that, and then you turn around, and they’re juniors and seniors. We spend a lot of time talking about this, but there are so few kids doing it, I think it’s a non-issue. Every kid who wants to do it, maybe only five percent can pull it off.”
At what point do tough losses become a mental hurdle to get over – “I’m sure there’s some of that there already. We just walked out of practice, and it was great. Our kids were very enthusiastic, energetic, and talkative. We had a pretty hard practice getting ready for Boston College tomorrow. That’s where you can tell if it’s taking a toll with them. I didn’t see any signs of that today. I’m happy about that, and I think we’re going to continue to play good basketball. We played 34 minutes and 20 seconds of great ball the other day, and down the stretch we just let things get away.”
Is there a way to lift the team out of this? – “What was interesting about today was they were the same way. They were all upbeat. It was almost as if they had a team meeting to say let’s stay confident, stay active, keep playing basketball. It’s not a case of playing bad basketball. There are some simple things that keep bothering us, the free throw shooting, and the turnovers. We need to be stronger with the ball, especially when we go into traffic. For some reason, this year when we go into traffic, we get jostled a little and lose the basketball. We just have to be tougher when we go into traffic.”
On Moe Miller’s progress since coming back – “I think he is coming along. One of the reasons you see our three-point shooting improve is having him out on the floor along with Iman. They both have to take care of the ball a little better. But when they’re on the floor, especially together, the ball moves a little crisper, and we get more open shots. A guy like Lewis Clinch can find himself open more often. Lewis made six threes the other day – three of them he created, and the other three on direct passes from Moe or Iman.”
Could you believe he had gone 0-for-21 before the Duke game? – “He had a great day shooting the basketball in practice today. I think it’s starting to click for him. Shooting is a fickle thing. It does test your confidence and mental toughness.”
On what you miss about not having D’Andre Bell – “Toughness and defense. And he’s as reliable a 15-foot jump shooter as I’ve ever had. When he’s open from 15 feet, you can count on it. But it’s his toughness and defensive presence that’s most important.
“I’m happy we caught the condition, because it could have been bad had we not. Now, he’s gone through a very successful surgery, and they give him a pretty good chance of coming back. But we won’t know for four to six months.”
On the progress of black coaches in college basketball since you’ve been in the profession – “In basketball, it’s been tremendous. I can’t put a price tag on how valuable it was for me to be around a guy like George Raveling. It gave me a better appreciation for how things were when he was an assistant coach at Maryland, and at the ACC Tournament banquet, he and his wife and Charlie Scott were the only black people in the room. Now you can see the progress that’s been made, not only in the ACC, but nationwide, in college basketball. Certainly, there’s a lot of work to be done in college football.
“The ACC has sought out what who they thought were the most qualified people. It’s a positive statement that your qualities and abilities are more important than your skin color.”
> Tech has played three overtime games this season, the most in one season since 1998-99, when the Yellow Jackets played five OT games. Tech is 1-2 in overtime games this season, 6-6 under head coach Paul Hewitt.
> Nine of Tech’s games have been decided by seven points or fewer, including the three overtime games. Only two of Tech’s eight losses has come by 10 or more points.
> Three Yellow Jackets – Gani Lawal, Alade Aminu and Iman Shumpert – have started all 17 games this season. Zachery Peacock, who missed the Maryland game with a stomach ailment, and Lewis Clinch, academically ineligible for the first seven games, have started every game they have played.
> Tech has shot less than 50 percent in eight straight games, and less than 40 percent in three of those.
> In Tech’s last four games, including a win over Georgia, the Yellow Jackets have shot just 38.6 percent from the floor and 59.2 percent from the foul line, while averaging 20.8 turnovers.
> In its last eight games, Tech has hit 40.7 percent from the floor, 33.6 percent from three-point range, and 56.6 percent from the line, while posting a minus-3.4 turnover margin per game.
> Tech has converted just 23-of-52 foul shots (44.2 pct.) in its two HOME ACC games, 53.7 percent in all four ACC games (includes a season-best 13-for-16 at NC State).
> Tech has hit 43.8 percent of its three-point shots in ACC games (including a season-high 10-for-18, 55.6 pct. at NC State), compared to 28.2 percent in non-conference games.
> Tech’s four ACC opponents have shot just 39.1 percent from the floor, 31.5 from three-point range.