Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

A New Buzz

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

The NBA season has started and college basketball is right around the corner.

We are going to take a look at Georgia Tech and see what we should expect this season.

Former head coach Josh Pastner was finally relieved of his duties after last season. He coached at Tech from 2016 – 2023 with a record of 109 – 114. He was replaced by Damon Stoudamire.

You might remember Mighty Mouse from his playing days. He was a point guard at Arizona and was a three-time First-team All-Pac-10 player (1993-1995). He was also Pac-10 Player of the Year (1995) and a consensus first-team All-American (1995). He was drafted No. 7 in the NBA Draft by the Toronto Raptors and he was the first player drafted by that franchise. He was the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1996.

Stoudamire played in the NBA from 1995 – 2008 for the Raptors, Trail Blazers, Grizzlies and Spurs. He has been coaching since he retired. He was an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics from 2021 – 2023. He was the head coach at the University of Pacific (2016 – 2021) and his record was 71 – 77.

I think he has done a good job of putting together a good coaching staff that consists of veteran and young coaches.

“I’m excited about the people we’ve been able to bring in to this program,” said Stoudamire. “This is a versatile group, and it’s a youthful group. I wanted some younger guys for the most part, but we do have some experience on the staff as well. I like the diversity, I like the different basketball minds that we have. We have a mixture of college and pro backgrounds that will serve us well.”

Karl Hobbs was a great hire. He was the associate head coach at Rutgers from 2016 – 2023. He was the head coach at George Washington (2001 – 2010) and he was an assistant at UConn for two separate stints.

Terry Parker, Pershin Williams and Nate Babcock were also hired. He also hired his former Portland teammate, Bonzi Wells.

The Yellow Jackets return their leading scorer, junior guard Miles Kelly. The 6’6 Stone Mountain native averaged 14.4 points per game last season. They also have returning players Dallan Coleman, Kyle Sturdivant and Lance Terry.

A transfer player expected to make a big impact is big man Tyzhaun Claude. Last season at Western Carolina he averaged 15.4 ppg and 8.6 rebounds per game. They also have transfer point guard Amaree Abram (Ole Miss) and small forward Kowacie Reeves (Florida), who have major upside.

Tech has only made the NCAA Tournament once since the 2009-10 season so the program is trying to change that.

At ACC media day Stoudamire was asked what his goals were this season:

“You know what, I haven’t made any goals. Honestly, I don’t know what a successful season looks like, but I do know this, I think this team is just going to keep getting better and better. I can see it. It’s probably the first team that I’ve ever been a part of where the offense is ahead of the defense.”

The season begins November 6, at home against Georgia Southern. They have two more home games after that, against Howard and UMass Lowell. They should get off to a fast start.

I do not expect them to make the NCAA Tournament this season but I think their record will be around .500.

Figuring Out The Ramblin’ Wreck

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

Last season Georgia Tech made their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2010.

The Yellow Jackets were 17 – 9 and 11 – 6 in the ACC. They finished fourth in the conference. They won the ACC Tournament by beating 15th ranked Florida State in the championship game. It was their first ACC Tournament Championship since 1993.

Georgia Tech lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Loyola (IL), 71 – 60.

Head coach Josh Pastner was hired in 2016. He was named ACC Coach of the Year in 2017 for leading Tech to a 21 – 16 record. He led them to wins against a top 5 North Carolina team and top-10 Florida State.

Last season’s team was led by senior forward Moses Wright, who was the AP ACC Player of the Year. He averaged 18 points per game and 8.1 rebounds per game. Senior guard Jose Alvaredo was another key contributor from last season that has to be replaced.

This season started with an upset loss at home to Miami (Ohio), 72 – 69. Pastner is now 3 – 3 in season openers at Tech. Miami is the third mid-major from the state of Ohio to beat Georgia Tech at McCamish Pavilion in the last five seasons.

Games like this are supposed to be easy wins. They need as many of those as possible before conference play starts. They bounced back to beat Stetson the next game, 77 – 52.

“We were far from perfect, but when we play with great energy, we’re a good basketball team,” coach Josh Pastner said.

The last game was a 75 – 66 win against Lamar. Lamar has a new head coach and they were 10 – 18 last year. The Yellow Jackets led by 22 points in the first half but looked sluggish in the second half.

“We definitely should have played harder,” said Jordan Usher, who finished with 15 points and a team-high eight rebounds but also turned the ball over four times. “I felt like we came out kind of lethargic at halftime and we can’t do that coming down the stretch when we play more skilled teams. But props to Lamar. We just need to be better.”

Tech had 10 turnovers. The announced crowd attendance was only 3,625 people so it was far from a packed house. They are struggling with figuring out roles for returning players and newcomers.

“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” Pastner said. “If we’re playing a Division III team, a Division II team, if we’re playing Lamar, if we’re playing North Carolina or we’re playing Gonzaga or we’re playing the Atlanta Hawks – if we don’t have energy, it can be a recipe for disaster.”

Georgia Tech currently has two players that average double digits in scoring. Senior guard Michael Devoe leads the team with 21.5 points per game. Senior forward Jordan Usher averages 13 PPG and 10 RPG. Freshman guard Dallan “Deebo” Coleman is third in scoring with 9 PPG. I think that will increase if he gets more playing time.

The next game is Friday at Georgia. The Bulldogs are 1 – 1 and will play South Carolina State before they play Tech. This is a game Tech needs to win against their archrival because they don’t have a chance in football.

The next two games after that are against Charleston Southern and Georgia Southern, both at home. Then things get tougher December 1st against Wisconsin in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will see if Georgia Tech is a team that can make the NCAA Tournament.

Fixed Wreck

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

This has been a surprisingly good season for Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010.

Head coach Josh Pastner has not had much success prior to this season.

He was hired in 2016 and that was his best season. Tech was 21 – 16 in 2016-17 and he was named ACC Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year.

He has had two losing seasons after that. In September 2019 the NCAA banned Tech from postseason play and put them on four years of probation.

The sanctions include a reduction in scholarships, limits on recruiting and a fine of $5,000 plus 2% of the program’s budget.

This was the result of major recruiting violations by Pastner’s former assistant coach and an ex-friend.

The Ramblin’ Wreck were 17 – 14 last season. Because of the global pandemic all postseason tournaments were cancelled.

On the surface the record was not impressive but there was one impressive takeaway. He had his first winning conference record in Atlanta, going 11 – 9 in the ACC.

Based on that we should have seen this season coming. Georgia Tech went 17 – 8, 11 – 6 in conference play. They were the fourth seed in the ACC Tournament.

They beat Miami in their first game. The next opponent was the No. 1 seed Virginia, but that game was cancelled due to a positive COVID-19 test within their program.

The Yellow Jackets advanced to the championship game against No. 2 seed and 15th ranked Florida State. They beat the Seminoles 80 – 75 and won the first ACC title since 1993. They shot 52% in the second half.

“First off, just want to give an incredible shout-out to our young men to get this from where we started, not only how it started this year, how it started five years ago,” Pastner said. “Holy Toledo, goodness gracious. Thank the good Lord. God bless everybody for sticking with us. And these young men, to do what we’ve done, to do this is just darned special, to put Georgia Tech back in the forefront of the ACC.”

Tech has the AP ACC Player of the Year, Moses Wright. The 6’9 senior forward was the only unanimous first-team pick on the AP’s All-ACC teams. He averages 18 points per game and 8.1 rebounds per game. During a six-game winning streak he shot 65.6% and averaged 23.5 ppg and 10 rpg.

Tech is led by upper classmen. Senior guard Jose Alvarado is the second leading scorer with 15.3 ppg and 4.1 assists per game. Junior guard Michael Devoe averages 15.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg and 3.3 apg.

Even after winning the ACC Tournament and clinching an automatic birth to the NCAA Tournament they aren’t getting much respect. The Yellow Jackets are the No. 9 seed in the Midwest region. They play No. 8 Loyola Chicago (24 – 4) Friday March 19th at Hinkle Fieldhouse (Indianapolis, IN) at 4:00.

They should be a higher seed but I think they have a serious chance to make the Sweet Sixteen.

ACC Pulse

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

As you all know 2020 was a year like we’ve never seen in our lifetime. Everything was affected by the global pandemic, including sports.

We’re going to take a look at the current state of the ACC up to this point.

The two blue blood programs, Duke and North Carolina are both unranked for the first time since 1982.

The only undefeated team in conference play is Virginia (9-2, 5-0). The Cavaliers are the highest rated team in the ACC, ranked 13th. When is the last time the first-place team in this conference wasn’t in the top 10?

Right now, UVA is the most consistent team and they play great defense. Senior forward Sam Hauser is the team leader in points per game and rebounds per game with 13.8 and 7.5.

#16 Virginia Tech (11-2, 5-1) is in second place. The lone conference loss was at Louisville 73 – 71.

The Hokies don’t play their archrival until January 30th. If they can get past Boston College, Syracuse and Notre Dame before that then that game will be for control of the conference. Junior forward Keve Aluma is the best player on the team with 14.8 ppg and 7.3 rpg.

Florida State (8-2, 4-1) is one of the most dangerous teams in the country. The Seminoles are full of tall and athletic playmakers.

They recently beat Louisville on the road 78 – 65. That was only the second conference loss for the Cardinals so that is an impressive win. I’m not sure how FSU is not ranked.

Pitt (7-2, 3-1) may have the best player in the conference. Sophomore forward Justin Champagnie is averaging 18.7 ppg and 12.9 rpg.

They’ve had three games against Duke, Florida State and Georgia Tech postponed. The lone conference loss was against Louisville. We’re going to learn a lot about the Panthers soon when they play Duke this week.

It’s surprising that Duke is the fifth ranked team in the conference. The Blue Devils (5-3, 3-1) rely heavily on talented freshmen and they are having a hard time adjusting.

They have had five games cancelled or postponed so they lost valuable time to gain experience. All three loses were to ranked teams: #8 Michigan State, #6 Illinois and #20 Virginia Tech.

I think this is a pretty good team and that will show as the season progresses.

Georgia Tech (5-2, 2-1) has to be the most surprising team. The Yellow Jackets have had four games postponed or cancelled.

They lost to Georgia State, Mercer and FSU.

The next four games are against Clemson, Virginia, Duke and FSU. I think Tech’s record is inflated and they’ll come back down to earth after that.

#20 Clemson is 8th in the ACC but nationally ranked above several teams in front of them.

The Tigers (9-2, 3-2) lost to UVA and Virginia Tech.

The team’s leading scorer, Aamir Simms only averages 11.6 ppg. I think Clemson is a decent team, but they are not a contender.

North Carolina is coming off of a disappointing 2019-20 season. The Tar Heels (8-5, 3-3) are following that trend this season.

The next five games are against Wake Forest, NC State, Pitt, Clemson and Duke. They need to win four of those games to position themselves to make the NCAA Tournament.

They lack talent so I don’t think it’s possible. Armando Bacot leads the team with 11.2 ppg.

NC State, Miami, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Boston College and Wake Forest are the remaining teams. These teams do not have a chance to get in the NCAA Tournament.