A quick preface: The real worst -case scenario is that so many players get injured that I have to go back to grad school to play for the team, but I’ve decided to focus on a more realistic worst-case scenario that takes into account everything from quality of opponents to player development. Be sure to share your worst-case scenario in the comments or in a Fan Post!
This worst case scenario season is off to a good start. Tadric Jackson and Josh Okogie have been suspended indefinitely leaving the Jackets with only one proven player (Ben Lammers). This team is going to be relying on unproven heavily early in the season and even with the return of Jackson and Okogie this team needs somebody to step up. But what if nobody does?
The starting lineup on opening day will likely be Jose Alvarado, Justin Moore, Curtis Haywood, Moses Wright, and Ben Lammers. Alvarado, Haywood, and Wright are all freshmen while Moore is a sophomore who had a forgettable freshman season. It is entirely possible that this team cannot score on anybody. Perhaps Jose Alvarado finds he cannot keep up with the speed of the college game. He hurries everything which creates turnovers and he can’t create yet at this level. Justin Moore doesn’t take a step forward from last season, which means he plays a lot like my description of Alvarado. He presses too much on offense and finds himself out of position too often when Tech switches to a zone. Curtis Haywood is known as the shooter and he presses too much to try to make up for the rest of the team’s lack of scoring. With his focus on scoring he finds himself unable to keep up at other parts of the game. Moses Wright is a high potential player who was seen as extremely raw coming in, but he has surprised coaches. Unfortunately his lack of game experience and high level competition come back to bite him. He gets lost easily on defense giving up easy baskets despite his lengthy frame. On offense he gets a few baskets showing potential, but is overall inefficient. With all of this chaos around him, Ben Lammers becomes ineffective on offense. His high post game suffers when the cutters aren’t open and he has no space. Defensively he remains a strong presence, but his rebounding help just isn’t there leading to tons of second chance baskets.
When Tech goes to the bench things do not get any better. Transfer guard Brandon Alston is currently nursing a leg injury and when he gets back he gets some play time before the return of Jackson and Okogie. He doesn’t impress in his early playtime and finds himself playing only in garbage time, like the transfers last year (Kellen McCormick and Jodan Price). Freshman power forward Evan Cole was a late blooming recruit and he finds himself in a similar position as Moses Wright. He can’t rely on his athleticism for easy baskets anymore and the speed of the game leaves him defensively vulnerable. Then we have Sylvester Ogbonda and Abdoulaye Gueye. Both are athletic and long, but both are also late in their careers and still look lost on the court. Ogbonda has supposedly made some big strides this off-season, but we’ve heard that about him before. He plays well in practice, but can’t give Lammers any real break during games without giving the other team a run. Gueye finds himself playing just a handful of minutes every game, when Lammers is truly exhausted or the freshman at power forward really need a break. Georgia Tech has a great group of walk-ons, but when it gets down to that point the team is probably in serious trouble.
When Jackson and Okogie get back, things improve, but not enough. Tadric gives into his worst impulses in the search for offense and attempts to play hero ball for half of the game. He struggles to stay on the court for more than 30 minutes a game which this team really needs. Okogie’s shot doesn’t improve at all and teams dare him to drive. He can do so successfully, but with teams focused solely on him he struggles with efficiency. Beyond Jackson, Okogie, and Lammers nobody steps up to be a consistent contributor.
This team gets smoked in Shanghai against UCLA. They drop a couple of games against some of the dregs of Division 1. Northwestern embarrasses them at home. Jackson and Okogie are back in time for the end of the OOC schedule (including Georgia), but the team is pressing and are taken down easily by UGA for the second year in a row. They end the OOC season at 6-6 thanks to a really, really easy schedule. Now though they are into the gauntlet ACC season. They have some shots at wins, such as away at Pitt or BC, and they take advantage of a couple of them to finish the ACC season at 2-16.
Remember everybody’s predictions for last year? They said this team would struggle to win any ACC games and would be nowhere near post-season play. That prediction is entirely possible again this season.