Maryland's Sunday home game against Georgia Tech is shaping up to be a potentially fantastic game, with Georgia Tech rounding into form and Maryland still improving themselves. Yellow Jacket blogger and SBN colleague Bird from From The Rumble Seat was kind enough to virtually sit down with us and trade some questions and answers on the matchup.
Make sure to head over there to read our own answers to their Q's, but first read on to see why the Jackets look better in ACC play, where they're vulnerable defensively, and how new coach Brian Gregory is doing in his opening season in Atlanta.
The obvious beginning point here: how does a team go from losing to Mercer and Fordham one week to nearly beating Duke and then toppling N.C. State the next? What changed, if anything?
I think this team is still finding its identity. All of these players rode the bench last season while Iman Shumpert, Brian Oliver, and Maurice Miller ate up all of the guard minutes. It only makes sense that we're finally coming in to a groove midway through the season. Glen Rice, Jr., in particular, has never had to bear the load of the entire team before and I think he has really blossomed in the past couple weeks.
Brian Gregory relies heavily on a team approach to offense and the first half of the season was a myriad of turnovers, bad shots, and more turnovers. Our guys are starting to finally realize when to make the extra pass and when to take it to the hole (particularly Mfon Udofia and GRJ).
It looks like Georgia Tech is a team built upon defense, as they were last year and the year before. Is the defensive success chalked up to anything Brian Gregory is doing in particular, or is it just a continuation of the individual defensive talent built up over the past few seasons?
I think it's just an accumulation of long, athletic Paul Hewitt recruits. We usually play the 3-ball pretty well and rack up a lot of steals at the guard position. Unfortunately for Paul Hewitt and Tech fans, offensive scheming was never a strong suit for Hewitt-coached teams. I still wouldn't say this defense is that great (see Northwestern). I would like to see our team play some more perimeter shooting teams before I dub them a defensive success.
On the other side of the court, GT's offense looks pretty inconsistent, and in fact perhaps a bit over-reliant on Glen Rice, Jr., and Mfon Udofia. Obviously, the loss of Iman Shumpert probably hurt quite a bit there. How has the offense reacted to having replace Shumpert, both as a scorer and as a point guard/lead guard?
The offense has been sporadic and your assessment is correct. The entire offense hinges on Mfon and GRJ. Kammeon Holsey has had some highlight reel dunks this season to spark the offense but everything still runs through Mfon and GRJ. I wish I could say we really have reacted to the loss of Shumpert but I just don't think we have the talent to make up for his and Brian Oliver's departures. Scoring 50 points in a game right now is about as surprising as scoring 70 points. We are oscillating up and down like a boat on the ocean. If GRJ is getting his looks, we're rolling but if GRJ is locked down, we'll get stomped.
To be completely frank, I wasn't a huge fan of the Brian Gregory hire - Dayton has a ton of potential and I thought he underperformed there - but his reign has started off better than I expected, landing a legit star in Robert Carter and having a good showing in the ACC. What's the general consensus on how he's looked so far?
Tech fans are pretty stoked about the hire now. We generally thought he was going to be a temporary fit until more cash became available. We are still finishing up Paul Hewitt's buyout and the rennovations of Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Gregory won at Georgia (something Tech hasn't done in 13 tries). Gregory almost knocked off Duke and Gregory won his first ACC road game. Hewitt's teams flat out stunk on the road especially in the ACC. If Gregory can *GASP* win five or six ACC games, he will easily win the hearts of Tech fans. It wouldn't take much after the suffering Hewitt put Tech through since basically 2006.
Tech fans enjoy the passing and teamwork that seems to be more pivotal in Gregory's gameplan. The players seem to feed off their frequent underdog status much like Gregory seems to coach as if he is coaching his last job. He gets in to the referee's face and seems to really motivate the kids. Tech fans like him. Plus, he sounds like a Northeastern version of Michael J. Fox.
Prediction time: who are you taking on Sunday? Score appreciated but not required.
I think Maryland wins. It could be close and it could be a blowout but I think Maryland wins. Let's say 75-58. A fast first half at home puts Tech away. The hostile crowd is going to be a challenge. I know we just won in Raleigh but NC State home fans aren't quite the same as Maryland home fans. A few momentum swings shouldn't quiet the crowd. NC Staters fell behind by a few points and all but gave up on the Pack Wednesday night. I don't see that happening in College Park. Plus, the double last second game winners from Greivis, to me, indicates College Park is a cursed place for Tech and victory there is all but impossible.