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#TGW: Role Definition

Jan. 25, 2014

By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word

As there are often multiple ways to look at matters, one might formulate a range of opinions on what Georgia Tech has accomplished so far in ACC action as the Yellow Jackets ready themselves to play this afternoon at N.C. State.

Likewise, head coach Brian Gregory has been willing to deploy a range of backcourt combinations, and you might well view players through multiple lenses.

Redshirt freshman Corey Heyward is expected start again in the backcourt alongside senior Trae Golden, but Heyward is no shooting guard. Nor is he the point guard.

Heyward said the other day, “we’re interchangeable.”

Perhaps in a way that’s true; both guards are bullish in stature. Golden, however, is more inclined to barrel his way to the basket where Heyward is more likely to bronco up and block an opponent from reaching the goal.

Call them the barrel chesters, but do not mistake their roles.

Gregory was adamant when asked, and said that Golden is Tech’s point man while also the Jackets’ points man.

He leads Tech at a clip of 16 points per ACC game. Heyward, whose start today will be his third, is averaging 0.8.

They are Tech’s Yin and Yang backcourt.

Corey is, like his brother – Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward – a defender. Casting him otherwise is nearly pointless (he has 12 in 18 games).

“Corey does bring a defensive mentality to the starting lineup, which I think is something that we needed,” Gregory said. “I thought he earned that not only in his performance in games but in practice as well.”

Chris Bolden is a shooting guard. But he hasn’t shot well this season (26 percent). Jason Morris replaced him for a while in the lineup, but suffered a concussion a couple weekends ago in an automobile accident and missed a few games.

So with a big scorer already in the backcourt in Golden, Gregory has decided that there’s more room for a teammate who doesn’t score much so long as he brings other assets.

The Tennessee transfer tied his season high with 24 points in Tuesday’s 68-60 win at Boston College to continue a roll.

Eight times this season a Jacket has scored 20 or more points, and Golden’s name was on the dotted line on five of those occasions. He’s led Tech in scoring in four straight games.

His 62 assists lead the team, too. Marcus Georges-Hunt is next closest with 46. And maybe, just maybe, Heyward rubs off on Golden.

“It’s interesting because throughout 11 years in coaching I think point guards have led us in scoring seven times so I don’t mind a point guard who can score, and he can do that,” Gregory said.

“And I thought [Boston College] was Trae Golden’s best defensive performance of the season; he was really dialed in in terms of the coverages and the things that we needed to do, and as so often happens he was exceptional on offense.”

Somebody is going to need to play some defense today against N.C. State’s T.J. Warren. He’s leading the ACC with a 22.2 scoring average (while adding 7.3 rebounds), although the 6-foot-8 forward is not likely to square off much against either Heyward or Golden.

Last season, the 2012 McDonald’s All-American from Durham averaged 12.2 point, and he is, “A guy who I just have an unbelievable amount of respect for,” Gregory said. “I think it starts with [N.C. State coach] Mark [Gottfried], and his emphasis on T.J. getting in great shape, changing his body, and really elevating his game from his freshman year to his sophomore year.

“That starts at the top, and then you give credit to T.J. Warren for the fact that in this day and age it’s hard to get guys to understand that. He’s done it, and he’s carried them in a lot of instances.”

Golden has similarly carried the Jackets.

“He has the ball in his hands a lot, a lot of decisions,” his coach said. “You never want that position to be less aggressive. He’s done a good job of understanding where his shots are coming from, where plays are being made.”

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