As we continue our game-by-game breakdown of Tech’s opponents for the upcoming basketball season, the time has come to take a look at two more ACC opponents: Notre Dame and Miami.
Countdown to Tipoff: 17 Days
2016-2017 Record: 26-10 (12-6 ACC)
Head Coach: Mike Brey
Key Departures: Steve Vasturia, VJ Beachem
Key Returnees: Bonzie Colson, Matt Farrell
Top Recruits: D.J. Harvey
Tech fans won’t soon forget the home game against Notre Dame last season. Josh Okogie’s buzzer beater gave the Jackets a 62-60 win and a 5-4 record in conference play. Unfortunately, Tech fell to Notre Dame in South Bend later in the year, but there was no shame in losing to the 26-10 Fighting Irish.
Last season, the Irish got it done with one of the nation’s best offenses, highlighted by a 14% turnover rate, good for second in the nation. This year, the Irish will once again be a tough out with the return of Bonzie Colson, one of the best players in the conference. Colson is the only returning player in the country who made an All-American roster last season and is going to be a strong contender for ACC player of the year.
Notre Dame will also return their leading assist man Matt Farrell, who averaged over 5 assists per game last season on top of his 14 points per game. Notre Dame is a team that likes to share the ball and will be relying heavily on Farrell to run their offense and get everyone involved.
The biggest concern for the Irish is help alongside Colson in the post. The Irish don’t return anyone with significant post experience and may find themselves often playing with four perimeter players and Colson down low. Tech may be able to take advantage of this if they are able to get consistent play from another big man alongside Ben Lammers.
The last player to watch for the Irish will be freshman D.J. Harvey, a four star recruit and one of the bigger gets Mike Brey has had. Harvey may take some time to get adjusted to the college game, but has a chance to be one of the big freshman contributors in the ACC.
The Jackets will take on Notre Dame on December 30 on the road and January 10 at McCamish Pavilion.
2016-2017 Record: 21-12 (10-8 ACC)
Head Coach: Jim Larranaga
Key Departures: Davon Reed, Kamari Murphy
Key Returnees: Ja’Quan Newton, Bruce Brown
Top Recruit: Lonnie Walker
Miami will be very good this season and many have picked them to win the ACC. They return the highest percentage of minutes in the ACC and add five star recruit Lonnie Walker to their rotation.
Last season, Tech played the Hurricanes just once, falling 70-61 on the road. Miami was solid offensively, but even stronger on defense, boasting a top 25 defense in the country, with four players averaging over a steal per game. They lose leading scorer Davon Reed, but they return Ja’Quan Newton and Bruce Brown, who should be one of the best players in the country. As a highly touted freshman, Brown averaged nearly 12 points per game, 6 rebounds per game, and 3 assists per game. Those numbers should increase even more this season as he’ll be called upon to be the leader of this Miami team.
In addition to the loss of Reed, Miami loses leading rebounder Kamari Murphy. The previously mentioned Brown, who stands at just 6’5” is the leading returning rebounder for the Hurricanes and they will have to find someone in the post who can replace Murphy’s production. The best bet is 6-11 sophomore Dewan Huell who averaged 3.1 rebounds per game last season while playing just 17 minutes per game.
The last name to mention for Miami is five star recruit Lonnie Walker. A gifted scorer, Walker will also be called upon to help replace the production of Davon Reed. Walker tore his meniscus in July, but he is expected back for the season opener. While he will be eased back into action in non-conference play, he should be one of the Hurricane’s best players by the time conference play rolls around.
The Jackets will take on Miami at McCamish Pavilion on January 3.