We sailed out through the Chesapeake and down the Atlantic seaboard before launching an amphibious assault on Georgia Tech, landing in Savannah. Unfortunately, we didn't realize that Atlanta is 4 hours west of Georgia's coastline - it did prove problematic. After a long, protracted invasion through the countryside, we ended up having negotiations with Georgia Tech's best blog, the awesome From the Rumble Seat - BirdGT, to be specific.
Our conversation went as follows.
1. Maryland's done well against teams without good point guard play, and that seems to be the case for Georgia Tech. Are the numbers lying, or is GT yet to find a consistent PG? On that front, do you expect Moe Miller to be the answer in that regard? He's certainly stepped up his play lately.
Moe Miller is playing relatively well because he's kinda fresh. His time was severely limited in the first half of the season because he was benched. He started the season only playing 10-11 minutes/game and now he's playing with fresh legs against guys that have played 30 minutes every game for 20 straight games. He has the benefit of two year's starting experience and lower mileage on the season.
When we started the season and saw the offensive abilities of Udofia and Shumpert when lined up with Moe, we saw why Hewitt benched Miller. Shumpert and Udofia are more explosive offensive players and are generally still considered the guards of the future by Tech fans. Miller's output has been noticed but we're still weary of declaring him our season's savior.
2. Maybe this is just an external observation from someone who hasn't studied the team that much, but it seems like Georgia Tech hasn't really lived up to what it could be. There are some great players on GT - Gani Lawal, Derrick Favors, Zachery Peacock, Iman Shumpert, just to name a few - but the final result is less than the sum of the parts. The example I looked at was Florida State, and GT has better individual talent across the board, but worse results. Is that truly the case? If it is, what about this team isn't clicking?
A lot of really goes back to question #1. There's not a good, steady handler on our squad. Someone on the court making cool, rational decisions (ala Jarrett Jack). So when we get into close games, we just blow our final possessions on senseless handling turnovers. Basically, we enjoy trading 2's for 0's.
It's frustrating to have two or three guys who could legitimately start on several ACC squads (Gani/Derrick/Iman) and not have someone that can just bring the ball up the court with good handling ability. Turnovers kill us plain and simple.
3. Give me one player that Maryland fans might not know too well (that rules out Lawal and Favors) that could do some damage on Saturday.
True freshmen Glenn Rice, Jr. and Brian Oliver are shooting like B.J. Elder and Marvin Lewis of 6 years ago. Over the past 6 games, they've both turned it on and have combined for about 18.5 points/game and as a pair are shooting over 51% from behind the 3-point line. A lot of their threes have been in the transition as well, which has played in nicely with Hewitt's chaotic-full-court-transition-offense.
4. Do you know who Jordan Williams is? Do you consider him to be a real threat for Derrick Favors' stranglehold on ACC Freshman of the Year?
Don't know who Jordan Williams is and we're not really familiar with his game. Honestly, we don't see many Maryland games on TV down here. The Big East lovefest on ESPN has severely limited our ACC viewing. It's GT games on local TV or a team from the Carolinas and that's it.
Favors is probably the best bet for ACC ROTY just because he's had big games on national TV. George Mason/Boston U. were on ESPNU and he had 32 points and 17 boards. Duke games were on ESPN/ESPN2 and he had 15 points and 15 boards. Clemson on ESPN2 and he had 17 points and 14 rebounds. His only bad nationally televised game was UNC. So the exposure foundation was laid in the preseason by the magazines and recruiting websites and the national spotlight hasn't really dimmed on him. He may not play great on local broadcasts but when the big cameras turn on, he's pretty solid. And that leads to an ACC ROTY candidacy.
5. Outside of tomorrow, Maryland fans are heavily rooting for Georgia Tech to miraculously pass Wake Forest in the ACC standings. They'll need to win pretty much every game other than the MD one to make that happen. Is that a conceivable possibility?
It's very possible. Tech is terrible on the road but Hewitt has always had Clemson's number. We've got Virginia Tech at home (very winnable) and BC (probably only game Vegas will favor us in for the remainder of the season). The goal for Tech fans is 3-1. Worst case scenario is 1-3 finish and playing Duke in the first round of the ACCT. Hewitt really needs an NCAA berth and a 2-4 finish on the season would be incredibly difficult to defend. The shine from the Final Four banner has finally worn off in AMC. Hewitt's gotta make a run now or else...he keeps on coaching next year because we can't afford his massive buyout...but we like to think that we will one day be consistently good again...maybe?