June 30, 2014
By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word
– One of the good things about Marcus Georges-Hunt is that he’s likely to say what he’s thinking if you ask, but then again he doesn’t think much about the things you might. So poking around can be tough.
Sometimes, you have to go mental mining with one of the two elder statesmen among Georgia Tech hoopsters.
Side track here: think about that fact — among scholarship players, Georges-Hunt and fellow rising junior Chris Bolden are at the top of the food chain. There are no seniors in the program beyond incoming transfers, and the other would-be junior, Robert Carter Jr., transferred.
So Georges-Hunt, the 6-foot-5 swing man from College Park (and North Clayton High), is the grand Yellow Jacket by virtue of starting 63 of 64 games.
He’s the Poobah, a wizard, the guy atop the hoops throne on The Flats. And . . . he really doesn’t care about all that.
Marcus said that what matters most, with regards to basketball, is, “I just want to win.”
With Georges’-Hunt’s bottom line out there as preliminary evidence, he realizes that it is not as simple as rolling a basketball out on the floor. Near the end of an interview that was less than vanilla, his interrogator finally figured out a decent question or two.
And, perhaps a vein was struck.
Georges-Hunt believes these are the keys to the Jackets improving: “Buy into what coach [Brian] Gregory is saying. Work hard each and every day, and we’ve got to have toughness.”
The middle key might be trotted out by every player in every college basketball program in America if he were asked a similar question.
The other two jumped out.
Marcus resisted the offer to dive deeper into the business about “buying into” Brian Gregory’s philosophy.
That’s reasonable. This is not a forum to jump out of bounds on speculation, yet we’re mostly smart people here and we have material worth pondering.
Georges-Hunt said, Tech’s success will come down to, “Defense first because that is what [Gregory] emphasizes, and we can flow into offense as long as we play defense.”
So that’s no surprise.
When it comes to toughness, how do you do that? How does one thicken his or her mental (and physical) hides?
Tech struggled often down the stretch of games last season, losing leads or ties, failing to catch up when opportunities existed.
On a few occasions, none to be mentioned, it was impossible to watch.
“It’s majority mental; it’s really in your mind,” Georges-Hunt said. “When stuff is not going your way, and you’re fighting adversity, your mindset has to tell you to keep going and pushing yourself. The coaches put us in different situations to see how we react.
“They throw different exercises at us to see how we react. [Teammates] are not putting their heads down when they’re tired. They’re encouraging each other, pulling for one another, and not giving up even when they’re dog tired.”
All of this seems to matter a lot more to Georges-Hunt than who is jumping higher, or stroking more 3-balls in.
Tech will have seven new faces in the fall – three incoming freshman, and four transfers. That does not count Robert Sampson, who sat out last season while red-shirting, nor point guard Travis Jorgenson, who missed all but the first four games with a knee injury.
By previous standards, those are astronomical marks.
The needle of Marcus is barely moved to think about it.
“Whatever guys coaches bring in I welcome because I know they’re going to be my brothers for the next year or so,” Georges-Hunts said. “I can get along with anyone … I really don’t care about the transfers [in college basketball].
“Maybe they don’t get enough playing time, or don’t get along with coach, or get kicked out, but … I don’t focus on stuff like that, or look in and read it or care about it.
“I just know as long as you take the time to get to know your guys … chemistry is real big. That’s why I call guys to join me when I’m going over to put up shots. We don’t even talk about basketball.”
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