The guys over at From the Rumble Seat were gracious enough to participate in a question and answer session in anticipation of the Clemson-GT basketball game Tuesday evening. I would encourage everyone to head over to their site and check out the coverage of all things Georgia Tech and our responses to their questions.
STS Question: Georgia Tech has been incredibly inconsistent all season (for instance, losing to Georgia then beating Duke, losing to Virginia then beating UNC). What do you attribute this inconsistency to?
FTRS Answer: Duke has all of their eggs in one basket - shooting the three and making the three. Georgia Tech's three point defense has been outstanding all year because we have long, athletic defenders (only allowing 28.8% of threes). When long, athletic defenders neutralize your main offensive weapon (Duke shot 6 for 28), you have to play a style of play that you're not accustomed to and that's how we beat Duke.
We beat UNC because they're just not very good this year. They have no team identity and they don't have any consistent leaders. We lost to FSU at home and UVA on the road ultimately because it's the ACC and anyone can play with anyone (incredibly evident this season). FSU backdoored us before students got back so there was little home court advantage. UVA is chalk full of veterans and just made less mistakes than us. We are starting 3-4 freshmen a game lately so older, more wirey squads have given us trouble like Dayton and UVA.
And finally, the Georgie loss is only explainable with some shape or form of swamp magic. We think the Ghost of Jim Harrick, Jr. has cursed Tech forever in (we've only won there twice all time for God's sake). It's a huge blemish on our season and a talking point for all the anti-Hewitt Tech fans.
STS Question: Paul Hewitt has been the subject of a lot of criticism this season. What do you guys think about his performance as GT's head coach.
FTRS Answer: It's been one of consistent inconsistency. Just yesterday Bird broke down the Paul Hewitt era and the truth is in the numbers. Under Hewitt, the Jackets are 67-96 in ACC play, 27-61 against NCAA-bound ACC teams, and 41-34 against non-NCAA bound ACC teams. The fanbase is simply getting tired of seeing us play with the lowly teams and struggle against the elite. What is more frustrating is that fact that Hewitt brings in the talent and we have potential to win games but it's just not happening.
STS Question: GT is an extremely talented team that a lot of people think does not play up to their potential all the time. How valid is this assessment of the GT basketball team?
FTRS Answer: It's incredibly valid. Since 2005, GT has struggled with personnel stability related to early Draft entries, academics, and injuries. The squad has severely underperformed as far as the GT family is concerned and needs to seriously rebound. Wins over Duke and UNC were nice but GT needs to also exorcise some demons by putting away a pesky OP squad on Tuesday night. A win over Clemson may turn some Hewitt haters back in to Hewitt fans.
STS Question: Tech shoots just over 68% from the line. How big of an issue is this statistic and is Georgia Tech good enough to overcome this problem on a consistent basis?
FTRS Answer: This season, it hasn't been a huge issue as we've made our free throws down the stretch. Also, our team free throw percentage is kinda skewed by the fact that Gani has shot about a third of our total free throws. If a big man is taking that many shots, your FT percentage is gonna go down. All we can hope is that when teams hack him, he makes his shots. Our veteran guards are shooting a more respectable 70-80%.
STS Question: In your big wins over Duke and UNC, one player had a huge game (Scheyer had 25 against Duke, Shumpert had 30 against UNC). Who should Clemson be concerned is going to have a monster game on Tuesday?
FTRS Answer: Well, Scheyer was 8 of 19 including a ball-hogging 3 for 13 from behind the arc. The only people impressed with Scheyer's shooting effort were
Iman Shumpert has been playing outstanding lately as a point-2 hybrid guard. Mfon Udofia and Iman have been splitting time at point. No single player is responsible for running 100% of our floor duties. We've not had this relative reliability at point guard since God knows when.
In general, our most consistent player this season has been Gani. Last season he averaged 16 points and 12 boards against Clemson. We'll need about the same to beat the Tigers on Tuesday night.
STS Question: What are Clemson's keys to defeating GT? What does GT need to do to win this basketball game?
FTRS Answer: To effectively keep us down, the Tigers will need to keep the Jackets alongside the perimeter and deny the entry pass into the post, thus neutralizing Gani Lawal/ Derrick Favors/ Zach Peacock. For Tech, it seems both teams match up rather well. The key is neutralizing Booker.