We got together for a late season Question and Answer session with the guys over at From the Rumble Seat in preparation for the big game agianst Ga Tech. Tech nipped us late early in the year. See what BirdGT says about GT's squad and how they have performed since the first matchup with the Tigers, and check out our answers to their questions over at their site.
STS Question: Tech squeaked out a close one in a very sloppy game by both squads back in January. Do you expect to see a similar game out of the Jackets this time around? How has this team progressed/digressed shooting the ball and converting free throws since the first contest?
FTRS Answer: Overall, we haven't progressed or digressed much statistically speaking. We progressed in overall field goal percentage since Clemson by about three percentage points. We were shooting 0.421 leading up to Clemson in our first four ACC games. In our proceeding nine ACC games, we've shot 0.451. The increase has definitely been the increased productivity of our low post game in ACC games. Favors and Lawal are tearing up the ACC. They've combined for 17.5 boards per game in ACC play along with 22.4 point per game.
We've definitely digressed in the free throw shooting department as a result of their increased presence in the offense. The two aren't the greatest free shooters and our team average has suffered as a result. Tech was averaging 0.671 in free throw percentage prior to Clemson and is now averaging an abysmal 0.602 in ACC play.
Interestingly enough, the balance of overall field goal efficiency with the drop off in free throw shooting has kept us at even 69.5 points per ACC contest throughout our pre-Clemson and post-Clemson runs.
STS: In the first game between these two teams, Derrick Favors had double-double, dinging the Tigers for 17 points and 14 rebounds. Do you see him having as big of a game this time around? If he doesn’t come up big, who should we look for out of the Jackets to fill his void?
FTRS: Derrick had a monster game against Maryland (a relative big man vacuum) and followed it up with a good but not great 15 point, 4 board effort against a pretty weak BC squad. The only team that effectively neutralized Derrick in the second go round was Wake Forest (one of Derrick's worst games this season). Otherwise, none of the second time opponents have been effective at boxing him out or preventing him from averaging ~11 points per game. Tech fans expect him to rack up a double against Clemson.
STS: The first time we chatted, we were interested in the Paul Hewitt and the criticism he received in Atlanta. After a month of 0.500 ball out of the Jackets, we are still interested in this topic. Where does the Tech-nation stand on Coach Hewitt?
FTRS: Our polls are probably exaggerated samplings of the Tech fan base (http://www.fromtherumbleseat.com/2010/2/28/1330108/the-hewitt-poll-returns-for) but for what it's worth, Hewitt hasn't had an approval rating above 50% since the Puerto Rico tournament. Even after we defeated Duke, 81 said they approved of Hewitt's performance and 124 disapproved.
Hewitt recently stated in the media that he didn't quite understand why people were angry at his players or the Tech staff because they are on the verge of an NCAA berth. I understand his confusion but the Tech fans are not angry with the year's squad. This year's squad has performed incredibly well for a team with 40% of the minutes allocated to true freshmen. The fans are upset because he hasn't won a NCAA tournament game in 5 years. The fans were spoiled with the Final Four run and once that warm and fuzzy feeling wore off, the fans needed more. Hewitt hasn't really provided much. We've only made the NCAA's once since Jarrett Jack left campus and have generally sucked in the ACCT. That's why Tech fans are upset.
I, BirdGT, will go on record saying that I like Hewitt. I think stability is critical for good recruiting and that recruiting wins in hoops. Only a few basketball programs really have long term stability and they are the programs that sink EVERYTHING into hoops. I think Tech performs as expected and will have a good run as long as Hewitt is in charge. A lot of Tech fans would strongly disagree.
STS: Tech now sits at 7-7 in conference play. What will it take for this team to make it to the NCAA’s? Do you think this squad can do what it takes to get there?
FTRS: I think we need a road win at Clemson capped off with a VT win in the home finale. After that, Tech will need a couple wins in the ACCT. If we can secure a spot away from Duke's side of the bracket, I think we'll be alright. I think we can beat any team in the ACC on a neutral court but the ACCT is anything but neutral. If you're playing Duke/UNC there, it feels like a 70% partisan crowd.
We should be in the NCAA's because we're good enough to win a couple rounds. Our OOC showing was particularly strong and we'll match up with anyone in the country at low post.
STS: What GT player would you say has improved the most over the course of the ACC schedule? What impact should we look for out of this player on Tuesday’s game?
FTRS: Moe Miller has been given some playing time as of late. You may remember him from the last two ACC seasons that saw Tech get donkey punched. Moe is playing like a veteran and Hewitt is rewarding him by taking away time from Mfon Udofia. Moe went from about 9-10 minutes/game to 20 minutes per game in the last three ACC games. Expect him to play an integral part in a hostile Littlejohn.
STS: GT has been a poor conference road team this season. By my count, the Jackets have only won one conference game on the road (at UNC). I know road games are tough to win in the ACC, but why is this team such a night and day squad when at home vs. taking the show outside of Atlanta? What do you think the chances are of GT reversing this trend Tuesday night against the Tigers?
FTRS: Those are mighty strong words following a weekend where the ACC road teams went 5-1 (including the Tigers). The Tigers are only 1 looming home loss away from having the same road record as Tech. Also, there are only 3 teams that have effectively traveled away from their home courts in the ACC (FSU, Duke, and Maryland with over 0.500 records on the road in ACC play). We're not that far off the ACC norm.
The real problem with our ACC road record is 3 freak plays. I attribute GT's lack of a respectable road record to the cruel hand of fate. Game 1: Zach Peacock misses free throw to put us up by 2 and on the rebound they call a cheap foul on Glen Rice, Jr. for a reach in. FSU shoots 2 free throws and wins with 0 time on the clock. Game 2: We are beating Miami with 9 seconds left. They in bounds throw up a prayer and make it. Game 3: We are beating Maryland with a couple seconds left. MD takes a time out and the clock operator gives MD the benefit of the doubt awarding them two seconds instead of running out the clock (as any logical clock operator should have). MD in bounds and heaves a prayer. They make it. GT loses three freakin' road games on three freakin' lucky plays.
So, there's no trend other than bad luck. Perhaps, if GT made one less turnover then all three of those games would've been wins and nonissues but now when NCAA selection time is approachin', all of those losses become huge regrets. Thankfully, we're playing the only school that is totally and utterly snakebit in every possible way (by Georgia Tech) as our road finale. We're banking on a W.