Nov. 15, 2001
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech, coming off a 17-13 campaign and an appearance in the NCAA West Regional in 2000-01, opens its second season under head coach Paul Hewitt against Florida A&M at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s Center.
The game, the nightcap of a men’s and women’s basketball doubleheader, will be broadcast on the Georgia Tech/ISP Radio Network and be heard in the Atlanta area on WQXI-AM (790) and WSNY-FM (100.1). The Tech women open with Kansas State at 5:30 p.m.
Tech opens its regular season after splitting its two exhibition games, dropping a 99-90 decision to Nike Elite before routing the EA Sports All-Stars, 112-85. The Jackets made strides in their win over EA Sports, holding that team to 42.5 percent shooting from the floor after Nike Elite torched the nets for 51.4 percent.
Offensively, Tech shot 53.2 percent against EA Sports and 42.1 percent from three-point range, and averaged 101 points in the two games.
“This team can score,” Hewitt said. “There will be nights when we will (score 100 points). This team can manufacture points. We don’t have to rely on the jump shot. We don’t have to rely on the post-up. We can do a lot of different things to score. I anticipate us being a much improved free throw-shooting team, and less reliant on the three-point shot or the back-to-basket moves.”
Sophomore guard Marvin Lewis (6-4, Germantown, Md.) averaged 20 points in the two games, scoring 21 against Nike Elite and 19 against EA Sports, and hit 16 of 25 shots from the floor. Senior point guard Tony Akins (5-11, Lilburn, Ga.) averaged 17.5 points and 9.0 assists in the two games.
Sophomore forward Clarence Moore (6-5, Norco, La.) started both games and averaged 10.5 points and 6.0 rebounds. Freshman Luke Schenscher (7-0, Hope Forest, South Australia) started both games at center, averaging 4.0 points and 6.5 rebounds.
Hewitt will go with 6-7 freshman Ed Nelson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at the other forward position. Nelson scored 17 points with seven rebounds off the bench against Nike Elite, then started against EA Sports and scored six points with six rebounds.
Tech has depth on the bench in 6-5 sophomore Halston Lane (Oak Ridge, Tenn.) and 6-8 sophomore Robert Brooks (Saginaw, Mich.). Lane, an excellent three-point shooter, scored 12 points against EA Sports, while Brooks averaged 6.0 points and 4.0 rebounds off the bench in the two exhibitions.
Along with Schenscher and Nelson, three other freshmen will make their debuts against Florida A&M – 6-3 guard B.J. Elder (Madison, Ga.), 6-5 forward Isma’il Muhammad (Atlanta, Ga.) and 6-6 guard Anthony McHenry (Birmingham, Ala.). Elder scored 16 and Muhammad 17 off the bench against EA Sports.
“This is a team that we’ll evaluate game-by-game,” said Hewitt. “We’re talented, but we’re teaching a lot. We can’t afford to have games where we step backward. There will be some games that we won’t look good as we go along, but we need to keep moving forward. If we do that, we’ll have a nice team.”
Two players will be slowed by injuries, Moore with back spasms and Muhammad with an ankle sprain, but both will play. Still, Hewitt is concerned about depth.
“We can’t afford to have guys injured,” said Hewitt. “Losing Michael Isenhour (being treated for leukemia) is big enough. What Michael is battling is much more important than what we’re facing on the court, but we can’t afford it.”
Georgia Tech vs. Florida A&M
Georgia Tech and Florida A&M are meeting for the fourth time, and the Yellow Jackets have won all three previous meetings, all at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
It is the third time Tech has opened the regular season against the Rattlers. The Jackets defeated FAMU 112-83 to open the 1992-93 season, and again 112-56 to open the 1994-95 campaign.
The last meeting took place on Feb. 5, 2000, an 89-57 Tech victory. Clarence Moore made his first career start in that game, scoring 17 points with eight rebounds, and Tony Akins added 11 with one assist off the bench.
Tech in the Thrillerdome
Georgia Tech is beginning its 46th season at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s Center in 2001-02. The Jackets have a record of 446-151 (.747) in the facility, which opened Nov. 30, 1956 with a 71-61 Tech loss to Duke.
Since the beginning of the 1981-82 season, Tech is 208-50 (.805) in its on-campus home, including an 11-3 mark last season.
Georgia Tech is 117-5 against non-conference opposition at Alexander Memorial Coliseum since the beginning of the 1981-82 season. The only non-conference teams to win at the Thrillerdome during that period are Georgia (Dec. 6, 2000), Penn State (March 18, 1998) Richmond (Dec. 22, 1987), Louisville (Jan. 15, 1989) and the College of Charleston (Jan. 16, 1993).
Unlike last season, when Georgia Tech’s roster included five seniors, this year’s roster features five freshmen and four sophomores, no juniors and two seniors among its scholarship players.
With Michael Isenhour sidelined this season while being treated for leukemia, Tony Akins is the only senior starter. The remaining minutes are spread among sophomores Clarence Moore, Marvin Lewis, Halston Lane and Robert Brooks, as well as the freshman group of guards B.J. Elder and Anthony McHenry, forwards Ed Nelson and Isma’il Muhammad and center Luke Schenscher.
Tech led the ACC last season in senior starts, with three in the lineup regularly for a total of 92 starts.
Freshman Group Largest Since Final Four Season
Georgia Tech’s freshman class could be a starting five, with Anthony McHenry at the point, B.J. Elder at shooting guard, Isma’il Muhammad at small forward, Ed Nelson at power forward and Luke Schenscher at center.
This year’s class represents the largest group of freshmen to enter the program since 1989-90, when the Yellow Jackets welcomed Kenny Anderson, Malcolm Mackey, Ivano Newbill, Darryl Barnes and Rod Balanis. Newbill and Balanis red-shirted, and the other three helped lift the Jackets to the Final Four in Denver.
Isenhour Battling Leukemia
Senior Michael Isenhour, who was expected to play a significant role for the young Yellow Jackets’ squad this season, was diagnosed with acute lymphomic leukemia in late October.
The 6-8 center from Lawrenceville, Ga., was admitted to Emory University Hospital on Oct. 24 and underwent aggressive chemotherapy treatments a week. Doctors say his prognosis is good, and he expects to be released from the hospital Thanksgiving weekend. A dean’s list student in mechanical engineering, Isenhour is graduating this semester and is expected to participate in commencement on Dec. 15.
Isenhour has played in 39 games in two seasons since transferring from the Air Force Academy, including 27 games and an average of 10 minutes off the bench last season.
Akins For Three
Tony Akins is making his mark as one of the top three-point shooters in Georgia Tech history. Only Dennis Scott (351-for-831), Travis Best (258-for-656) and Matt Harpring (211-for-585) rank ahead of Akins on Tech’s career lists for three-point field goals made and attempted.
Akins is 203-for-569 in his career (35.7 percent). Scott, who set his records in three seasons, shot 42.2 percent from three-point range.
Lewis Becomes Leader for Jackets
As a freshman, Marvin Lewis grabbed a starting role and made the most of it, showing poise and maturity to the point where he is now considered one of the team’s leaders as a sophomore.
As a 6-3 small forward for the Jackets last year, Lewis averaged 8.7 points and 4.5 rebounds, ranking third among ACC freshmen in both categories. Now 6-4, he has moved to his more natural position of shooting guard, teaming with Tony Akins to form a solid backcourt tandem.
Lewis, who made the ACC all-Freshman team and the Academic all-ACC team, came to Tech from Montrose Christian School in Germantown, Md., where he was coached by Stu Vetter, who was the high school coach of former Tech great Dennis Scott, Tech’s all-time three-point field goal leader.
Tech Gets “Mo” Moore
Sophomore forward Clarence Moore, who broke a bone in his left foot in early September of last year and played just five games last season has returned to health and is in the starting lineup for the Yellow Jackets.
The 6-5 Moore sustained the injury in a pickup game on Sept. 3 and underwent two surgical procedures, one in September and one in February, before being cleared to play in August. His request for a medical hardship was approved by the NCAA, and he has three years of eligibility remaining.
Known as “Mo,” Moore averaged 4.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in 30 games as a freshman in 1999-2000, including 10.2 points and 8.6 rebounds in five starts. In Tech’s two exhibition games, Moore averaged 10.5 points and 6.0 rebounds.