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Mailbag 2/8

So...about that game against Wake Forest?

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 06 Wake Forest at Georgia Tech Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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DressHerInWhiteAndGold: Your thoughts on World Cup coming thru the ATL?

Ben: Don’t know that I have any super strong feelings, but it should bring a lot of tourism business which is great for the economy!

Jack: I have a slightly different economic view of this than Ben. Most of the economic studies out there show that sporting events do a lot to displace economic activity from other places than actually increasing economic activity on the whole. It’s a whole thing I’ve only recently learned about. To put it lightly, Truist Park has been a flaming disaster for awhile for Cobb County taxpayers. I’d go read J.C. Bradbury’s work on the topic. He’s a professor at Kennesaw State specializing in the economic impact of sports stadiums, notably publicly funded ones. That said, this is a monthlong thing, there’s a shot this is actually a net positive economically because this won’t be a one-off thing.

Now to everything else about it: this is going to be one of the best things for Atlanta in ages. Each of these games is a massive deal. To quote my dad in the AJC, it’s “like eight super bowls in a month.” Our city is going to be home to the world’s eyes for a long time. Having the Super Bowl here was nice (save for the fact New England won), but that will not touch just how important on the global stage the semifinal match will be.

I’m also really curious how/if Georgia Tech will be involved. These matches are going to draw folks from around the world to Atlanta, so it will be a great chance to promote ourselves to folks who may be thinking about doing college in the United States. The U.S National Team training center south of the perimeter should be finished by then for teams to use, but I imagine Atlanta United’s facility and maybe our football practice fields could be used for teams coming in to prepare for matches.

tyler_pifer92: The Wake game was a bummer so I thought I’d look ahead to next year. The only players set to leave are Sturdivant, Claude and Douwona. Are there any other players on the roster who you don’t see returning next year?

I think Coleman likely leaves and Kelly may as well.

Rob: Damon is known for being a tough coach and it’s hard to say what is going on behind the scenes day in and day out. We have obviously seen the upside of this team, but there is no question there have been nights where we came out and just looked like we did not care. If that is the result of certain players not buying in to the new system, then it is possible we could see those players leave next season, but there is no way to know if this is the case or who those players would be. Coleman has seen his minutes reduced significantly this year from over 31 per game last season to 20 per game this season and I definitely think it’s reasonable to think he might want a fresh start somewhere else. Kelly is an interesting case because he has seen similar minutes and production this year as last year despite shooting the ball significantly worse. There were NBA murmurs for him last season, but I am not sure he would have the same buzz this offseason. Would he want to transfer elsewhere to try and get that final push to the NBA next season? Hard to say. Another name I’ll mention is Baye Ndongo. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility to see him jump to the NBA after this season. We saw Josh Okogie leave after his freshman year and Baye has similar, if not higher NBA upside. A recent ranking I saw had him as the #4 freshman in all of college basketball and nearly everyone else on that list is a projected first round pick next season. I do not want to speak it into existence, but I do think it is a possibility. Of course, even if he decides to return to college, that does not mean we are in the clear. In the age of the free transfer and NIL deals, you never know if a blue blood could come in and give him an offer he cannot refuse. Technically, that logic could apply to a player like Nait George as well. Hopefully they are bought into Damon and his system and see no reason to leave for somewhere else.

TkTheGoat: Not a question but, this is ridiculous. I mean seriously? Beat a top 3 team just to get curb stomped by a mid in conference opponent. I don’t know who’s to blame. For example, 2019-22 football was rough but at least we knew who to blame. And also Collins’ football teams just sucked completely, so they never gave us a spark of hope by beating good teams. I cannot express the fickleness i have for both basketball programs. Unbelievable.

Rbissman: A team with GT talent on it that gets blown out at home has serious coaching issues. It is a coaches job to get a team motivated and ready to play. It’s also important to have reasons why the team loss. We didn’t play hard??? Seriously. Ridiculous!!

Jack: I wasn’t there for the WF game to see just how lax we played, but our inability to consistently defend is appalling. There’s enough games in the schedule that there are always going to be some nice wins and questionable losses, that’s just the ACC, but games like this do make you scratch your head. I know for the women, they got good looks but could not for the life of them sink anything against Notre Dame nor make a consistent effort on defense in transition. There is no one on either team that exudes ferocity. They may be pissed off on the inside, but it doesn’t show on the court. If I’m any NBA/CBB team, I’d love to be playing the Atlanta based teams right now because you can score on us.

Rob: To be fair, Wake Forest is 25 on Kenpom and 32 on NET so they are a pretty solid team. That does not begin to excuse the effort we gave, but it is not like we got blown out by some scrubs. That is all I wanted to clarify.

tyler_pifer92: We are all obviously frustrated with the Wake Forest game on Tuesday night. However, I think it’s important for us to remember that Coach hasn’t had a chance to establish a full roster of his players.

This is the key. The only players on this team he’s personally invested in are Ndongo, George, Reeves, and Gapare. Abram was supposed to be part of that group.

He’s got three really talented recruits coming in as well as Lance Terry who was clearly the second best player last year.

Did this game make you change your mind on CDS moving forward? Twitter seems to think so.

Jack: Super astute thoughts here. Damon has said himself that this is a three year project. It doesn’t excuse lackluster performances on a game-by-game basis, but it’s an important thing to keep in mind when watching these games. The full vision of this team has a very small chance of being embodied in the team we have now.

Damon’s tenure so far is reminding me a ton of Ime Udoka’s first months as the Boston Celtics’ head coach where Damon was an assistant. The beginning of Ime’s run was rough for Boston. They were not clicking as a team, Ime was not going easy on them, they were 25-25 at the 50 game mark despite having a roster that was so much better than that. There was a place Ime needed to get that team for them to see the vision. After that game, they went 9-1 into the All-Star break, and 26-6 to finish the season, making the NBA Finals.

Why did it take so long? I think back to what Damon said in a press conference earlier this season about “shedding their egos.” If any basketball team is going to work, that must be done. It is not an immediate process. That’s what Ime was doing in Boston, that’s what Damon is doing now. Every guy has to buy in. For some, it takes longer. We might be a team that takes longer. If my theory here is right, they will turn the corner at some point, they will get hot, and the full vision of Damon ball will be there for all to see.

Rob: Honestly, as disappointing as the game was, it does not change much for me. This year was never supposed to be a great year and as you mentioned, Damon is working with a roster mostly full of the previous tenure’s players. For me, the takeaway from this season is the upside that we have seen. This is a young team (arguably our two best players are freshmen) and we’re under a first year head coach. If anyone expected consistency this season, they did not have the right expectations in my mind. Now that does not mean I am okay with getting blown out by 30 points. But I am not anywhere close to jumping off ship yet.

Submitted via email: Is Eric Singleton the alpha-dog pass catcher we’ve been missing since Ricky Jeune? And is this the strongest WR group we’ve had since....idk when....?

Ben: My only hesitation in saying that is that he isn’t the most sure-handed receiver in the world. He struggled a good bit with drops toward the end of the season. He’s got great potential, and I think we have a good group of receivers, but I don’t know that I would compare Singleton to Jeune. Jeune (and other CPJ-era receivers) could stretch the field as possession receivers (except for Stephen Hill). They were big and could hold onto the ball. Singleton just gets open behind everybody.