Georgia Tech (10-5, 2-3 ACC) vs. Clemson (13-4, 4-2 ACC)
Thursday, January 18, 2001, 7:00 p.m.
Atlanta, Ga. Alexander Memorial Coliseum (10,000)
The Opening Tip
Georgia Tech (10-5, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) has a week off after narrowly falling to fifth-ranked Duke, 86-83, on Jan. 11. The Yellow Jackets host 16th-ranked Clemson, their third-straight ranked opponent, on Thursday. Georgia Tech has won seven of it last nine games, dropping the two losses by a total of four points. Clemson, ranked 19th by USA TODAY/ESPN and 20th in the Associated Press poll, is 13-4 overall and 4-2 in the ACC.
From the Locker Room
Four Yellow Jackets are averaging in double figures in scoring, led by sophomore Niesha Butler’s 17.2 points per game. Butler, who earned ACC Player of the Week honors for her performance two weeks ago, is second on the team and third in the conference with an .800 free throw percentage. Butler scored a season-high 25 points at UNC on Jan. 2 and has scored 20 or more points in three of her last four games. Junior Milli Martinez is second on the squad with 13.7 points and leads Tech with 7.9 rebounds per game and 31 steals. One of Tech’s most consistent players, Martinez is leading the conference with an .865 mark from the free throw line. Sophomore Sonja Mallory captured Georgia Tech/Atlanta Marriott Northwest Holiday Invitational Most Valuable Player honors Dec. 29-30 after averaging 23 points and 8.5 rebounds in two games. She has scored in double figures in six of the nine games in which she has started and is averaging 11.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per contest. Senior Jaime Kruppa, last year’s leading scorer and rebounder, is averaging 12.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. She scored a career-high 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against Duke on Jan. 11. In the last two games – both against ranked opponents – she is averaging 24 points and 9.5 rebounds. Sophomore Nina Brlin has started every game at point guard for the Yellow Jackets the last two seasons. She has a 5.4 scoring average and 3.1 rebounding average and is second on the team with 46 assists. Sophomore Alex Stewart leads the team with 52 assists and is tied for the team lead with 31 steals. She posted her first career double-double against Virginia with 13 points and a career-high 11 rebounds on Jan. 7. Stewart is averaging 7.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per contest. Sophomore Tamika Boatner is averaging 8.4 points and 5.4 points per game.
Clemson is 13-4 overall and 4-2 in the ACC. The Tigers, ranked 20th nationally by the Associated Press and 19th by USA TODAY/ESPN, won nine in a row before falling to Maryland, 85-73, on Jan. 2. Since then, the Tigers have gone 3-1, defeating NC State, Wake Forest and Virginia and losing by one to North Carolina. Sophomore Chrissy Floyd leads Clemson and is second in the ACC with 17.8 points per game. Floyd is fifth in the conference in field goal percentage (.481) and first from the free throw line (.817). Senior Erin Batth is averaging 14.6 points per game and is fourth in the conference with 8.9 rebounds per contest. Jim Davis is 291-132 in his 14th year as head coach at Clemson.
The Series with Clemson
Clemson leads the all-time series with Georgia Tech, 34-9, and has won seven of the last eight contests. Last year the Yellow Jackets defeated the Tigers, 81-62, at home on Dec. 4 and lost at Clemson, 72-43, on Jan. 31.
Head Coach Agnus Berenato
In her 13th season as head coach at Georgia Tech, Agnus Berenato owns a 184-174 (.514) record. Under Berenato’s guidance, the Yellow Jackets have advanced to the NCAA Tournament once and the WNIT twice, including last year. Berenato was named the 2000 GAHPERD College Coach of the Year and was named to ‘Who’s Who in America’ by Marquis Who’s Who in 1999. Berenato was named the 1992 State of Georgia Division I Coach of the Year by the Atlanta Tip-off Club after leading the Yellow Jackets to the NWIT title. A 1980 graduate of Mount St. Mary’s, Berenato received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from her alma mater in 1995. She also became the first alumnus to return to her school as a commencement speaker. Berenato became Georgia Tech’s head coach in 1988 after spending two years as an assistant coach of the Jackets.
The Last Time Out
Senior Jaime Kruppa scored a career-high 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, but Georgia Tech fell just short of the fifth-ranked Duke Blue Devils, 86-83, on Jan. 11 in Durham, N.C. Sophomore Niesha Butler and junior Milli Martinez scored 20 points apiece and the Jackets shot 47.5 percent from the field, but Tech was unable to overcome Duke’s attack. Behind freshman Alana Beard’s career-high 29 points and 2000 ACC Player of the Year Georgia Schweitzer’s 24 points and seven assists, Duke held off the feisty Yellow Jackets. Duke turned a five-point halftime advantage into a 12-point lead midway through the second half, but the Yellow Jackets fought back. Tech climbed to within one on a layup by Martinez with 17 seconds remaining. Beard sank two free throws with 8.5 seconds on the clock to put the Devils up three, and the Yellow Jackets were unable to get off a last-second shot as Duke held on for the victory.
The Magic Number: 70
Georgia Tech’s magic number during the 2000-01 season has been 70. Tech’s 86-83 loss to Duke was the first time this season the Yellow Jackets have lost when scoring 70 or more points. The Yellow Jackets are now 10-1 when scoring at least 70 points this season and 0-4 when scoring fewer than 70 points.
Butler Named ACC Player of the Week
After leading Georgia Tech to victories over North Carolina and Virginia, Niesha Butler was named the ACC’s Women’s Basketball Player of the Week on Jan. 8 by conference media. Butler, a 5-8 guard who garnered seven ACC Rookie of the Week awards as a freshman in 1998-99, is the first Georgia Tech player to be named ACC Player of the Week since Kenya Williams on Nov. 23, 1998. Butler averaged 19.3 points per game as the Yellow Jackets faced league foes North Carolina, Florida State and Virginia and finished 2-1 on the week. The New York, N.Y., native finished the week 25-52 from the floor (.442), including 4-9 from behind the three-point arc, and 8-11 from the free throw line. She scored a game-high 25 points in Georgia Tech’s 82-75 victory over UNC, the first win for Tech in Carmichael Auditorium since 1991. In the Jackets’ victory over No. 25 Virginia, Butler tallied 22 points to lead Georgia Tech to its first victory over the Cavaliers since 1997. Butler has scored in double figures in every game this season and has reached the 20-point mark seven times, including in three of the last four games.
Tech Atop ACC in Rebounding Margin
With a plus-6.9 rebounding margin, Georgia Tech ranks first in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Yellow Jackets have outrebounded opponents in 10 of 15 games this year, and are 9-1 in those contests.The Ramblin’ Wreck has twice set school records for rebounding margin this season. The Yellow Jackets established a new school record with a plus-33 rebounding margin at Wagner on Dec. 19. Then 10 days later Tech outrebounded St. Francis (Pa.), 60-24.
Kruppa Comes Up Big in ‘Big’ Games
Jaime Kruppa scored a career-high 28 points and pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds to lead Georgia Tech against fifth-ranked Duke on Jan. 11. In two games against top-five teams this season, Kruppa is averaging 25 points, 10 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots. She has scored 48 points in her last two games.
Butler Extends Double Figures Scoring Streak
Despite battling the stomach flu, redshirt sophomore Niesha Butler scored 20 points against Duke Jan. 11 and has scored in double figures in every game this season. During her career at Tech, Butler has scored in double figures in 43 of her 46 contests. She has scored at least 20 points in three of the last four games. The last game in which Butler did not score in double figures was against NC State on Nov. 30, 1999, when she tore her ACL just three minutes into the game.
Stewart Leads Tech with First Career Double-Double
Sophomore Alex Stewart led the Yellow Jackets to victory over Virginia Jan. 7 with her first career double-double. The 5-5 guard scored 13 points and grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds. She made the Jackets’ final field goal of the game on a layup with 2:40 remaining and sank two free throws with seven seconds left in the game to secure the victory. Stewart leads Georgia Tech with 48 assists and is tied for the team lead with 31 steals. She is also shooting .815 from the free throw line and is third in the ACC with a 1.50 assists/turnover ratio.
Tech Reaches 10 Wins
Georgia Tech’s win over Virginia on Jan. 7 marked the fastest Tech has reached the 10-win plateau since the 1990-91 team opened the season 10-1.
Jackets Knock Off Tar Heels, Cavaliers
Georgia Tech knocked off North Carolina and Virginia Jan. 2 and Jan. 7, the first time the Yellow Jackets have defeated the Tar Heels and the Cavaliers in the same year since 1988-89, head coach Agnus Berenato’s first year at the helm of the program. Tech defeated North Carolina 82-75 on Jan. 2, the Ramblin Wreck’s first win in Chapel Hill since 1991. Then just five days later, Tech handed No. 25 Virginia its first conference loss of the season, 70-65.
A Statistical Look at the Last Nine Games
Georgia Tech has posted a 7-2 record during its last nine games, with its two losses by a total of four points. The success is not an accident. The Yellow Jackets have improved their play in nearly all statistical categories since opening the season 3-3. During the last nine games, which date back to Dec. 17, Georgia Tech has outrebounded its opponents by 10.1 rebounds per game, as opposed to a plus-2.2 rebounding margin during its first six games. The Yellow Jackets have improved offensively and defensively. Tech has shot 44.8 percent from the field during its 7-2 run after shooting 41.7 percent in its first six games. But the opponents’ field goal percentage may tell a bigger story. During the first six games of the season, Tech’s opponents shot 45.3 percent from the field. Since then, the Yellow Jackets have limited their opponents to just a 39.8 field goal percentage. The opponents’ scoring average has fallen from 78.5 points per game through Dec. 8 to 65.0 ppg during the last nine contests. The Ramblin’ Wreck has also turned around its turnover margin. During its first six games, Tech was on the wrong end of a minus-0.7 turnover margin, averaging 20.3 turnovers per game. In the last nine games, the Jackets hold a plus-1.4 turnover margin and are averaging 17.6 per game. At the free throw line, Georgia Tech has improved dramatically. The Yellow Jackets shot 64.3 percent from the line in the first six contests and are shooting 76.8 percent from the line during the last nine.
Martinez’ Consistency Paces Yellow Jackets
Junior Milli Martinez has been the Yellow Jackets’ most consistent player this year. She has scored in double figures in 12 of Tech’s 15 games. She also leads Tech from the free throw line with an .865 mark. Martinez is not just a scoring threat, however. She is tied for the team lead and seventh in the conference with 31 steals and is third on the squad with 40 assists. She scored 20 points against Duke on Jan. 11, the third time this season she has reached that mark. On Jan. 2 against North Carolina, Martinez tied her season high with 21 points and equaled her career high with seven assists. She also grabbed 10 rebounds and had just one turnover as she helped lead the Yellow Jackets to their first victory in Chapel Hill since 1991.
Practice Pays Off for Mallory
Sophomore Sonja Mallory entered the season with a 44 percent average (20-44) from the free throw line, and she began the season much as she left off. Through her first six games of the year, Mallory shot just 43 percent (12-28) from the charity stripe. Since then, however, it has been a different story. Starting with a 3-for-4 effort from the line against St. Francis (Pa.) on Dec. 29, Mallory has shot 77 percent (20-26) from the free throw line during the last six games. Mallory, who began the season as a reserve, has averaged 13.4 points per game as a starter during the last nine contests.
Tech Sets Season Low with 12 Turnovers against FSU
The Yellow Jackets set a season low with just 12 turnovers against Florida State on Jan. 5. The last time Tech committed fewer than 12 turnovers was March 5, 2000, against Duke.
Dishin’ the Rock
The Yellow Jackets, led by Milli Martinez’ seven assists, recorded a season-high 22 assists against North Carolina on Jan. 2. The last time Tech recorded at least 22 assists in a game was on Dec. 29, 1999, when the Jackets had 23 assists against Western Michigan.
Butler Surpasses 800 Career Points against Virginia
Redshirt sophomore Niesha Butler surpassed 800 career points with 22 against Virginia on Jan. 7. With 258 points in 15 games this season, Butler could become just the third player in school history to reach the 1,000-point plateau in her second full season.
Yellow Jackets Among ACC Leaders
The Yellow Jackets are well-represented on the ACC Leader Board. Niesha Butler is sixth in the conference with 17.2 points per game and third with an .800 free throw percentage. Milli Martinez just misses the minimum qualifying standards, but her .865 mark from the free throw line is the best in the ACC. She is fifth with 7.9 rebounds per game and leads the conference with 3.73 offensive rebounds per contest. Her 4.13 defensive rebounds per game rank her ninth in the ACC. Martinez is tied for seventh with 2.07 steals per game and seventh with a .446 field goal percentage. Jaime Kruppa ranks sixth in the conference with 7.2 rebounds per game and is fifth with a .762 free throw percentage. Alex Stewart is eighth in assists (3.5 per game) and tied for seventh with 2.07 steals per contest. Nina Brlin is ninth with 3.1 assists per game. Sonja Mallory ranks second in the ACC with 1.42 blocked shots per game, 10th with 6.2 rebounds per game and ninth with 2.67 offensive rebounds per game. Tamika Boatner is just behind her, in 10th in the ACC with 2.43 defensive rebounds per game. As a team, Georgia Tech leads the ACC with a plus-6.9 rebounding margin. Tech is second in the ACC in rebounding offense (42.6 pg) and offensive rebounds (16.93 pg), and third in free throw percentage (.712) and scoring offense (76.9 ppg).
Brlin Posts Season-High Six Assists against Seminoles
Sophomore Nina Brlin notched a season-high six assists against Florida State on Jan. 5. Brlin, who has started every game during her Tech career, is second on the team with 45 assists this season.
Mallory Earns MVP Honors With Career Tournament
Sophomore Sonja Mallory claimed Most Valuable Player honors at the Georgia Tech/Atlanta Marriott Northwest Holiday Invitational Dec. 30 after averaging 23 points and 8.5 rebounds per game against St. Francis (Pa.) and Fresno State. She scored a career-high 21 points agsinst the Red Flash on Dec. 29 and then bettered that mark with a 25 points against the Bulldogs on Dec. 30. She made 11 of her 13 free throw attempts against Fresno State. Mallory joins sophomore Tamika Boatner as Tech centers to earn tournament MVP honors this season.
Four Yellow Jackets Earn All-Tournament Honors at Holiday Inv.
Sonja Mallory earned MVP honors at the Georgia Tech/Atlanta Marriott Northwest Holiday Invitational and was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Jaime Kruppa, Milli Martinez and Niesha Butler. Lindsay Logan of Fresno State and Carla Chesick of St. Francis (Pa.) also were named to the all-tournament team.
Tech Totals 18 Steals Against Georgia State
Georgia Tech tallied 18 steals against the Georgia State Lady Panthers on Nov. 29. Every player who saw action grabbed at least one steal, and Jaime Kruppa, Niesha Butler and Milli Martinez had four apiece. The 18 steals were the most by the Yellow Jackets since Nov. 23, 1999, when Tech stole 24 from Georgia State.
Boatner Claims MVP Honors
Sophomore Tamika Boatner was named Most Valuable Player of the Atlanta Marriott Northwest Classic after averaging 15.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. She posted a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds in her first career start on Nov. 24, setting new personal bests in both categories. She then scored 16 points and set a career best with two blocked shots against Mount St. Mary’s on Nov. 25.
Three Yellow Jackets Named to All-Tournament Team
Junior Milli Martinez and redshirt sophomore Niesha Butler joined Tamika Boatner on the Atlanta Marriott Northwest Classic All-Tournament team Nov. 24-25. Butler scored a game-high 20 points against Cornell and followed that performance with 12 points against Mount St. Mary’s. Martinez posted a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds against the Mountaineers after recording 11 points and eight rebounds against Cornell.
Butler Named Pre-Season Player-of-Year Candidate
For the second-straight year, Tech guard Niesha Butler was selected as one of 30 preseason candidates for the Naismith Player of the Year Award by the Atlanta Tip-Off Club. Butler earned ACC Rookie of the Year honors in 1999 after leading the Jackets with 19.3 points per game and 120 assists. She tore her ACL on Nov. 30 last year and received a medical redshirt.
Butler Tabbed Preseason First Team All-ACC
Niesha Butler was named to the preseason All-ACC team by the media at the ACC Women’s Basketball Media Day in October. She joins North Carolina senior LaQuanda Barksdale, Virginia sophomore Schuye LaRue, Duke senior Georgia Schweitzer and Virginia senior Svetlana Volnaya on the team.
Yellow Jackets Picked Sixth in ACC Preseason Poll
Georgia Tech was picked to finish sixth in the ACC by the conference’s media at the ACC Media Day in Greensboro, N.C., in October. Duke is the preseason favorite, followed by Virginia, North Carolina State, North Carolina and Clemson. Maryland, Florida State and Wake Forest were picked to finish seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively.
Brlin Selected One of Atlanta’s Most Beautiful People
Tech guard Nina Brlin was chosen as one of Atlanta’s 50 Most Beautiful People by Jezebel Magazine. She was featured in the November issue, along with celebrities such as Julia Roberts, Kenny Rogers, Michael Stipe, Dikembe Mutombo and Miss Georgia Patti Dunn.
Yellow Jackets Select Team Captains
The Yellow Jacket players selected team captains for the 2000-01 season. Leading the squad as captains are: senior Jaime Kruppa, sophomore Alex Stewart and sophomore Niesha Butler.
Georgia Tech Lands One in Early Signing Period
Georgia Tech signed center Eva Kadlecova to a national letter of intent in the early signing period. Kadlecova, a 6-4 post player from the Czech Republic, averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds per gameas a freshman at Genesee Community College in Batavia, N.Y., last season. She was named to the All-Region first team and All-Tournament Team after helping lead her squad to the regionals last year.
Senior F Regina Tate, who has missed every game this season with a severe stress fracture in her left shin, has surgery scheduled for Friday. She is out indefinitely. Tate scored 6.7 points per game last season and was second on the squad with 6.8 rebounds per contest.
On Deck: Jan. 21 vs. Marland
Georgia Tech hosts Maryland on Sun., Jan. 21, in a game televised by the Regional Sports Network. The Terrapins are 10-6 overall and 1-4 in the ACC. Junior Marche Strickland leads Maryland and is 10th in the conference with13.9 points per game