Nov. 13, 2008
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech opens its 93rd season of basketball Friday night when the Yellow Jackets host Winston-Salem State at 8:30 p.m. at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. And head coach Paul Hewitt expects to see lots of different defensive schemes from the Rams for his short-handed team.
Friday’s game is the back end of a double-header with Tech’s women, who open their season at 6 p.m. against Troy. Tickets for the men’s game are $20 and can be purchased at the gate.
There is no television coverage of either game, but the men’s game can be heard on the Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network, with flagship station WQXI-AM (790) in Atlanta, as well as Tech student station WREK-FM (91.1) and XM Radio (Channel 193).
“(Winston-Salem State is) a team that’s going to scramble you,” said Hewitt, who is beginning his ninth season as the Tech head coach. “They’re going to trap, run and jump, trap ball screens. So it’s of vital importance that we take care of the basketball. Not so much full-court, but in the half-court, we’ve got to be ready for them to surprise us with traps of various kinds. They’re going to throw a lot of different looks at us.”
This is Tech’s second meeting with the Rams (12-18 last year), who are beginning their third season in NCAA Division I under head coach Bobby Collins. The Jackets took a 97-46 win over WSSU on Jan. 3, 2007.
Tech (15-17 last year) comes into the game with one exhibition game under its belt, an 85-54 win over Le Moyne last Friday night. The Jackets shot 48 percent from the floor in the game and held the Dolphins to 31 percent. In their first game playing with the new 20-foot, 9-inch three-point line, the two teams combined to hit 6-of-35 tries from that distance. Tech was 3-for-12.
Providing some reinforcement for Hewitt’s pre-season praise for his frontcourt players, Tech’s four big men combined for 63 of the 85 points. Sophomore Gani Lawal (Norcross, Ga.) had 30 points, Alade Aminu (Stone Mountain, Ga.) 17, Zachery Peacock (Miami, Fla.) and Brad Sheehan (Latham, N.Y.) 9 each. Lawal, Aminu and Peacock each hit double-figures in rebounds.
Sophomore point guard Maurice Miller (Memphis, Tenn.) shook off a poor first half to carry Tech on a surge in the first 10 minutes after intermission, helping the Jackets expend a 12-point lead to 33. He finished the game with six points and four assists, while freshman Iman Shumpert (Oak Park, Ill.) scored just four points but had eight assists.
“I thought Moe Miller played well in the second half,” said Hewitt. “He established the level of tempo and intensity we want. Gani did what he’s supposed to do. He played hard and scored around the basket. Thankfully, he and Alade played well in the first half while Moe was struggling. In the second half, Moe got everybody else to come along with him.”
Hewitt will start the same five players against Winston-Salem State that began the game last Friday – Miller and Shumpert at the guards, and Peacock, Aminu and Lawal along the front line. With senior D’Andre Bell (spinal stenosis) out for the season and senior Lewis Clinch (academically ineligible) out for the semester, Peacock is being asked to utilize his outside shooting and defensive abilities at the small forward spot.
Tech still has some depth in the backcourt with sophomore Lance Storrs (Decatur, Ga.) and walk-on freshman Nick Foreman (Bellaire, Texas) coming off the bench. Storrs struggled shooting the ball in the exhibition game (0-for-4), but Foreman scored eight points and hit a pair of threes.
“We’re disappointed (about Clinch), but we’ll treat it like and injury, move through these first six or eight games, and see what happens after that,” said Hewitt. “It does create some opportunity for others to step up. Nick Foreman stepped up the other night and played really well. We also discovered that Zachery Peacock can be an outstanding perimeter defender, and offensively he can shoot the ball from the perimeter. It does have the potential to really help this basketball team.”
Tech will have the services of two players who missed the Le Moyne game with injuries. Senior post player Bassirou Dieng (Dakar, Senegal), a graduate student transfer from St. Francis, Pa., missed the game with a subluxed left elbow, while freshman walk-on guard Derek Craig (Spring, Texas), is back from a concussion.
Following Friday’s game, Tech is off until Nov. 22, when the Yellow Jackets travel to Mercer for a 1 p.m. regionally-televised game.