2007-08 Georgia Tech Basketball Preview
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Overall Rank: #52
Conference Rank: #7 ACC
2006-07: 20-12, 8-8, 6th (t)
2006-07 postseason: NCAA
Georgia Tech has nearly all the pieces in place for an NCAA Tournament run. There is plenty of talent, plenty of experience and plenty of scorers. However, they are missing the one key thing that every team needs…a quality point guard. When Javaris Crittenton opted to go to the NBA, the Yellow Jackets went from the NCAA to the NIT according to many prognosticators and unless one of the new point guards can step up, the NIT is where the team is headed.
Crittenton was no experienced point guard, but he was very good. His only year at GT he averaged 14.4 points and 5.8 assists and he certainly got the job done. The 21st overall pick in the NBA Draft, Crittenton will be missed, but it is not just his departure that has Georgia Tech on a one year downward spiral. The early departure of Thaddeus Young is not quite as big of a deal thanks to the depth of the frontcourt, but Young averaged 14.4 points and 4.9 rebounds last season and had plenty of room to improve and become a great forward in the ACC. Mario West provided some depth to the backcourt and little used Paco Diaw has opted to transfer.
Calling all point guards. Walk-on Matt Causey has the experience after spending some time at Georgetown and North Georgia, but it is Maurice Miller who has more talent. Causey, now a senior, is a decent shooter, but Coach Paul Hewitt just needs somebody who will get the ball to the scorers in a safe manner. Miller may be that guy. He is not a great scorer at this point in his career, but he is a good passer and was a solid floor leader at the high school level. Neither of these point guards are Crittenton and they will likely share minutes until one can separate himself from the other. Shooting guard Lance Storrs has a nice looking shot. He can drain a ton of three balls when he is on and once he uses his 6-4, 212 pound body to get to the basket more, Storrs will be a good player. The big new name in the frontcourt is Gani Lawal. The 6-8 forward is a great athlete who will do a little bit of everything. Once Lawal adds some strength, the McDonald’s All-American will be very difficult to stop. Redshirt freshman Brad Sheehan has plenty of potential of his own. He is a solid rebounder and the 6-11 center will spend most of his time in the paint.
Who to Watch:
The frontcourt has potential with Jeremis Smith, Ra’Sean Dickey, Zach Peacock, Mouhammad Faye and Alade Aminu returning. The tough hard-nosed Smith led the team with 5.9 rebounds per game last season. He is also the most prolific scoring option among the group of forwards. Dickey would likely be starting beside Smith, but he is ineligible for the first semester. Dickey can find an open shot even in a crowded area around the basket and may be starting once he is eligible. That is, of course, unless Zach Peacock does not want to give up his starting position. Peacock is not a banger under the basket like Dickey, but his offensive versatility could prove to be a valuable asset. No matter how it all shakes out, players like Peacock will see important minutes while Dickey is out and that can only help the overall depth down the stretch of the season. Lanky small forward Faye and rebounding threat Aminu will be benefactors of Dickey’s absence as well and both will get the opportunity to prove they deserve more minutes.
If Lewis Clinch was not back, Georgia Tech would be nowhere near the bubble. Clinch only played in 14 games last year before running into academic issues and that really hurt the offense. Clinch is a terrific shooter and shot nearly 48 percent from beyond the arc in those 14 games. He will use his athleticism to get to the basket as well and will be the team’s best scorer this year. Yet, Anthony Morrow will not be too far behind. Morrow, who averaged 9.9 points per game last year, can hang with Clinch in a three-point shooting contest. D’Andre Bell is the only other returning guard. Depth is not a major concern though since the versatility of the forwards allow for many of them to see significant minutes on the wing. Obviously the point guard issue is the big question mark. If Causey or Miller can simply run the team without causing too many problems, Georgia Tech will be alright. However, It is asking a lot of a freshman not named Crittenton or a walk-on to lead a team through the ACC.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Maurice Miller, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Lewis Clinch, Junior, Guard, 13.2 points per game
Anthony Morrow, Senior, Guard, 9.9 points per game
Jeremis Smith, Senior, Forward, 8.3 points per game
Zach Peacock, Sophomore, Forward, 5.5 points per game