Better late than never right? It's been quite a year for the football team so it has been pretty easy to forget that basketball season
is right around the corner has already started and for that I apologize...kind of. The Yellow Jackets roundball squad is coming off a disappointing 2008-2009 season as the team went 11-18 overall and posted an embarrassing 2-14 record in conference. Potential and production was seen however, and as in every year, potential and high expectations are back as we begin the new season.
Why the expectations, the rankings and the potential every year no matter the results from the previous year? We all know the answer to this question. It's in the recruiting. Everybody knows Georgia Tech landed a stud recruiting class led by soon to be one-and-done hyped freshman forward Derrick Favors but what some forget is that Paul Hewitt landed some other quality acts in Glen Rice Jr and Mfon Udofia (both guards). Paul Hewitt must win with these players and his returning talent. Basketball is different than football (duh) in the fact that one player can make a tremendous impact on a team and carry that team far into the postseason (think Carmelo Anthony and Syracuse) and this year has that chance with the addition of Favors. The freshman class is 70% of the hype for the season. Oh,potential, potential... potential....
The remaining 30% of the hype comes from returning players Gani Lawal, Iman Shumpert especially, and in addition to role players Mo Miller, and dare I say Zach Peacock?! Fans love the combination of Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors as the frontcourt combo. Also! You can't forget about the return of De'Andre Bell who brings back his defensive fiesty-ness that was also evident in key role players Clarrence Moore and Mario West of yesteryear. In 2008-2009, Bell was sidelined with a spinal condition called "spinal stenosis" and returns to his starting role this season.
The season is all about RETURN production and POTENTIAL! Ignore the exhibition OT game; that doesn't matter and shouldn't worry you too badly. So far, the Jackets have played 1 regular season game against Florida A&M as a tune-up for their Puerto Rico Invitational match-ups (1st game against Dayton on Thursday at 11:30 AM EST). The FAMU game resulted in 4 players scoring double-digits as Iman Shumpert led both teams with 18 points and the Jackets cruised to an easy victory 100-59. The starting five were Favors, Udofia (both freshmen), Shumpert, Lawal, and Bell.
Just as every previous ACC season proved to be rough, this one proves no different. To make the NCAA tournament, we should expect Tech to be at least playing .500 ball within the conference and to net at least 2 road wins as well. It is essential to get road wins in the ACC as most teams in the ACC have a significant homecourt advantage. The road schedule this year is as follows: @UVA, @UNC, @FSU, @Duke, @Miami, @Wake Forest, @Maryland, @Clemson. Quick, off the top of my head thoughts for those 2 wins are against the Seminoles and the Hurricanes.
If you are interested in the basketball program at Georgia Tech, you are desperate for a successful basketball season, successful as in 2nd round of the NCAA tournament. Paul Hewitt must show that he can win with this talent in his possession.
The biggest key to the season is to see how the team meshes. As every season progresses, I look to see if I can parallel the current team to the 2004 squad. The 2004 squad had its leader and star in Jarrett Jack and he was surrounded by role players. Those who knew they weren't the stars but they also knew they had a role that they excelled at. They were a team to the fullest definition. If you don't remember, the 2002-2003 Jackets had another star freshman in Chris Bosh. The team went a mediocre 14-13 and 7-9 in conference.
So in closing, it's time to see the potential become a reality. It's time to see the consistency again. The hype is here, let's see the results.