Thursday, January 28, 2010
I started to write a post today at work about what Tech needs to do to make the tournament and as a result how big tonight's game against Wake Forest was, but things were too busy at the office. Thankfully, the Jackets took care of business in a big way tonight, beating Wake Forest by 21 points for their 5th straight win over the Deacs at home.
More to come on what Tech needs to do the rest of the year, but we really need to finish at least 8-8 in the ACC, and defending the home court tonight was a big step, now putting us at 4-3.
This was the best I've seen this team play. As I've said, I don't expect a beautifully run team offense any more, but our players made some great plays to score, and the way we play defense, you don't need to score all that much to win. To use a Paul Johnson quote here, "79 is more than 58."
As much as we complain about how "undisciplined" we look at times, we're doing the same thing Hewitt's 2004 Final Four team did - playing great defense and rebounding the heck out of the ball. Lawal and Favors are absolutely awesome. They aren't going to average 20 points a game because of all the talent we have on this team, but they go to work every game and pull down almost 10 boards and score the majority of our points. And Favors had 5 blocks tonight!
And Brian Oliver has quickly become one of my favorite players. It's been a while, probably since Marvin Lewis on that Final Four team, that I get excited as soon as a player touches the ball, knowing there's a good chance he's about to drain a 3. He was 3-4 tonight and made 6 against FSU.
Now Tech has to learn to do this every game. Especially on the road. We've only lost one home game. It's time to carry that to the road, which is tough in the ACC. Especially tough when our next conference game is at Duke.
Great win tonight, though. Go Jackets!
Monday, January 25, 2010
Well, I learned something from this article: There IS a ugag basketball fan. And he covers himself in peanut butter. Perhaps hoping Uga (or whoever the stand-in currently is) would come like him clean.
In somewhat-related news (although containing much less peanut butter), the Jackets continued their consistency in being inconsistent, losing another winnable game by missing free throws and being unorganized on offense. That's all the recap you need. Oh, and we turned it over a lot.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Me, yesterday: "Is tonight the night Derrick Favors has a breakout game?"
First line of ESPN's game recap: "Derrick Favors had a breakout performance..."
I had a feeling last night would be when we saw out of Favors what we were told we'd see, and for the most part, that feeling was right. The biggest key was that he was never in foul trouble, so he was finally able to play a lot. Favors finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Solid outing.
After a terrible first couple of minutes, Tech went to town on Clemson's press, resulting in multiple dunks and alley oops, which is when Favors got most of his points. When we were forced to play (or attempt) half-court offense in the second half, Clemson chipped away at the lead, and the game was back and forth for the last few minutes. Very similar to when UNC chipped away, and again we came up with enough plays to save the win.
The game was sloppy by both teams, but I'm now just accepting this Tech team for what they are - a very good defensive team with great athletes that will manage to score points, even if it isn't always pretty. Half court offense is and will always be our weakness as long as Paul Hewitt is here, but you know what? He and his team just beat three ranked teams in the past two weeks. Yes, we lost to some weaker teams, but the team is finally fun to watch again and is winning games.
Lack of any organized offense will probably hurt is in the postseason, but let's just see where this takes us right now. Paul Hewitt's not going anywhere until after next season at the earliest, and he's got our team playing much better as of late, so let's enjoy the good players we've got while they're still here.
Up next is revenge at FSU on Sunday. Go Jackets!
Oh, and a shoutout to two guys (below) who are now my heroes. Any It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia fans out there? If not, start watching now.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Georgia Tech takes on Clemson tonight at home on ESPN2. We come in ranked 18th and they come in 16th. No word yet if their starting point guard is playing, which should come into play. I watched their game against NC St. last weekend and they were great with him and very not great without him.
Is tonight the night Derrick Favors has a breakout game? We heard all offseason about how great this guy was, and he's been good for a freshman, but certainly not dominant. The AJC says his draft stock is slipping. The other super-hyped freshman, John Wall at Kentucky, is crushing people.
It would be nice to get a win after winning a big game so we don't all say "what's wrong with this team/coach?" every other game. Let's put together a little win streak.
Go Jackets! Beat Clempsun just like football (twice).
Sunday, January 17, 2010
The Jackets continued their Jekyll and Hyde persona Saturday by beating UNC on the road, meaning in our last 4 games we have beaten UNC and Duke and lost to UVA and uga. Granted, if I could pick two to win, it would probably be those two. But it's just mind-boggling. At halftime, when were up 14 AT UNC, the announcer said something like, "How can you do this and lose to Virginia?"
I'm sure these young players have a much easier time getting up for a game against the Dukes and UNCs of the world, but we've got to start playing well against the lesser teams on our schedule.
The game was awesome for the most part. We missed the first few minutes on TV due to the game before it going a little long, but Tech was on fire and playing great defense in the first half. In the second half, every time UNC would cut it to about 10 and the crowd would start to make some noise, we'd go on a mini-run and bring it back to like 16. Until the late-game near-collapse.
We wrote about it early in the season how Tech was having trouble closing out games. We've lost a couple games going cold in the final minutes, but this time (fortunately), the cold streak came with enough time to regain the lead. UNC came back from down 20 to take a lead with 2 minutes left. During that 4 or 5-minute span, we stopped doing what we had done all game. The defensive intensity lacked, and all our good ball-movement from earlier in the game stopped. I was really impressed with how we moved the ball and how LITTLE we stood around (our trademark) unto that point. But then we went back to standing around and letting Shumpert or Peacock try to score on their own.
Maybe we don't know how to play with a lead; only how to get one. We seemed to keep the foot on the pedal until that stretch where we went stupid, though. Hats off to Iman Shumpert, who had the best game of his career, scoring 30 points. And Gani was his usual, beastly self. Favors was in foul trouble again and still has yet to have the breakout game we thought he was going to be having all the time.
Overall, it was a GREAT game by the Jackets, though. Not much to complain about other than the bad stretch that let them back in the game. It doesn't get any easier going forward, but maybe that's a good thing with this team since we are playing better against good competition. The next 3 games are Clemson (who crushed UNC), at FSU (who already beat us) and Wake Forest. Hopefully we'll be able to channel our Duke/UNC energy into each of these games.
Friday, January 15, 2010
In keeping with the "Good, Clean, Old Fashioned Hate", I could make several comments about how the DC search for Tech was the exact opposite of UGA's search, but I won't. I won't make statements about how Georgia went for the big splash and got smacked down over and over again. Nor will I say how UGA fans turned on Kirby Smart, calling him a traitor and a turncoat because he wanted to stay in Alabama, where he just won a National Championship. I won't lower myself to say things like that. I will say, however, that Tech's search was the opposite: clean, neat and focused. Tech was without a DC for a total of 8 days, as opposed to six weeks plus. CPJ did what he intended to do, find a quality coordinator and get them into the program. Done and done.
Some sites have begun to claim that this duo might not work out as well as hoped. While it is impossible at this time to speculate correctly about what will happen, some of their reasoning sounds interesting. The first nugget being quoted is that Tech now has two head coaches and that could lead to a head butting. Groh could see this as a step to go back to being a head coach. While no one is really sure of his intentions, Groh made it clear that he wanted to go to a program that had National Championship potential and he sees Tech as fitting that description. It would be insane if he came into the program and immediately began to battle CPJ for control over the team. You want to know why? Because CPJ would drop him in a heartbeat. There can only be one Don (mafia reference).
Al Groh wants to be part of something special and this platform is one of the best ways. He even stated that he was enamored with the success that Tech has had so quick in the Johnson era. He knows that his Head Coaching resume isn't that strong but that he can best accomplish his goal (Championship) by being the best DC he can.
So now what?
Now that Groh is coming to North Avenue, the discussion about his system and the types of players he needs will come about. This is a hard time for any DC to come in because of the closeness to the National Signing Day. Tech has targeted a lot of quality defensive recruits but was done so under the Wommack regime. So will there be any form of philosophy change that could hurt the recruiting class? I doubt it.
Remember that Wommack wanted to install a 3-4 which happens to be a Groh specialty. Groh will want to have a say in the type of recruits from here on, but this class and the young players currently on the team will suit his defense. I am no expert on the 3-4 defense but what I have seen is that it is depended on several main features: big DT and DE and smart, fast linebackers. As of now, Tech is doing a good job of getting players that fit those roles.
I think this is going to be a fascinating off season.
An interesting nuggest, Sports Illustrated has posted it's Power Rankings for College Football and Georgia Tech is listed at #8, Florida is #11 (not an ACC team but Wow!) and UGA is ranked at #22 (skin of the teeth). Want to read it? Of course you do. READ IT!
And now, your AJC UGA VENT OF THE WEEK!
"College coaching is like dating - love 'em and leave them."
But I do remember this (LINK), which was class.
Al Groh has officially accepted the position of Defensive Coordinator at Georgia Tech, thus saying Georgia Tech is a better place to work than the New England Patriots or Miami Dolphins.
Our defense now has HOPE because of this CHANGE.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Hopefully this doesn't happen 3 times like it has to our neighbors to the east...
We're not officially out of the running for Al Groh yet, but now the Patriots have entered the bidding war for Groh. In the last month he's gone from crappy UVA head coach to the most sought after DC in the NFL. Unless he really wants to stay in college coaching, it looks like we need to look elsewhere.
The "insiders" were wrong this morning when they said a hire had been made and we'd know after the team was told. It led to a lot of refreshing and lot of unproductivity at work. I guess CPJ needs a little more time to decide.
A lot of people think Giff Smith will be promoted from within. That choice would not excite me at all. It may very well work out, but it won't excite going into the season. Nothing against Giff, because I'm sure he's a great coach. He's always talked about as one of the best in the program, and he's supposed to be our best recruiter. The problem I would have with that choice is that our defense was bad last year... and we need someone who we know can turn it around. It would be great to give Giff a shot at DC, but maybe after he takes over for someone who's been successful and leaves on their terms. It's a lot harder to take over something that was broken. And here's a what if. What if we promote Giff and our defense remains horrible? Do you then fire your best recruiter after wasting another couple years without a good defense?
A defensive coordinator should look at Georgia Tech as a huge opportunity. To come coach here and have an offense that will win time of possession almost every game and put up a lot of points and to have the opportunity to turn around a defense that was really bad last year would make you look really good. We're not going to get the Kirby Smarts of the world (lack of money, brand-name, etc.), but we could get a guy who's proven himself on a somewhat smaller stage. Like Air Force, TCU, whoever has had great defenses.
Just my $.02. What do you guys think? Hopefully we won't have to wait much longer...
Just as I made a blog post about the fact that I haven't seen any DC candidates other than Al Groh, the AJC posted a few (very few). Here's their list (other than Groh):
1) Manny Diaz: His name has been floated as a long shot for the Georgia vacancy. He’s the defensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee State, which went 10-3 this season (a Sun Belt record for wins), including victories over Maryland, Memphis and Southen Miss. Diaz’ defense set a school record for sacks (38). The Blue Raiders also led the Sun Belt in takeaways (33) and turnover margin (plus-12, which ranked eighth nationally), and ranked second nationally in tackles for loss (8.62 per game). In the Sun Belt, MTSU ranked second in scoring defense (23.7 ponts) and third in total defense (354.8 yards). Diaz also is familiar with the ACC landscape. He spent six years (2000-05) at North Carolina State, mostly coaching linebackers and safeties, and two at Florida State (1998-99), where he worked under Mickey Andrews and was there for the Seminoles’ national championship in 1999. As a political bonus: his father is the two-term mayor of Miami.
(UPDATE: Rumors have been flying around since last night that Diaz has been hired by Mississippi State. For what it’s worth, Diaz reportedly has interviewed with both the Bulldogs and Houston, but neither school has announced a hiring.)
2.) Tim DeRuyter: This might be a reach since the Air Force defensive coordinator is said to be a top candidate for the Texas A&M job, vacated by Joe Kines. The Air Force finished 11th in the nation in total defense (288.3 yards per game), 10th in scoring defense (15.7 points) and fifth in takeaways (34). The Falcons also held high-scoring TCU in check, losing only 20-17.
3.) Bob Shoop: The fact he coaches at a 1-AA school (William and Mary) works against him. But he was just named the FCS coordinator of the year after leading William and Mary (CAA), which went 11-3 this season. The Tribe defense’s per game averages: 61 yards rushing (No. 1 nationally in the FCS), 229 total yards (No. 2), 12 points (No. 2).
It's a pretty short list, and I'm kind of disappointed. One because it's so short, two because they aren't the biggest names (not that they have to be a big name to be good), and three because two seem to basically have new job offers already on the table.
Since midseason I've thought going after DeRuyter after the season would be a good idea. He's proof that a team that runs the triple option can have a good defense. Air Force was solid on D all season and shut down Houston's potent offense in their bowl game.
My guess is we've probably offered Groh the job, but he's deciding if he wants it since he just interviewed for the Miami Dolphins' job, too. I'd like to see some more names in case Groh, Diaz, and DeRuyter all accept other jobs. We don't want our search to turn into uga's.
Any change is good from last year, though, and I'm sure CPJ will get the right guy. I'm still giddy thinking about our offense with a real defense!
UPDATE: Looks like Groh is the Dolphins' front-runner for the job (article also says he has an "offer" from Georgia Tech), so we may want to expand this list of candidates...
UPDATE 2: Some "insiders" say there's been a hire and we'll know tonight, once the players have been notified. This has to point to Groh or a promotion from within (like Giff Smith). Unless the AA kept interviews and interest that quiet. I'm thinking and hoping it's Groh. I want someone who's done this before and been good at it.
Remember when we beat Duke? Don't get used to it. We continued our Hewittness last night by then going and losing to Virginia. We haven't won a road ACC game in two years... Hewitt's never going to have another roster this good, and somehow I think we'll still struggle to reach .500 in the ACC. Ugh.
Since it's becoming old hat and I don't want to rant any more, check out From The Rumble Seat's recap. And vote in their poll. Currently, 81% don't approve of Hewitt. I think the other 19% are other ACC teams' fans.
In other news, Al Groh interviewed for the Miami Dolphins' DC job under his 5-time boss Bill Parcells. Hopefully they don't take him and turn our search into a uga-esque one. I haven't heard much about other candidates at this point.
Monday, January 11, 2010
It is now official. Bay-Bay Thomas, Jonathan Dwyer, Derrick Morgan, and Morgan Burnett have all declared for the NFL Draft. We'll obviously miss these guys, but congrats to them on great careers at Georgia Tech and best of luck at the next level. It's been fun watching them!
What a Friday/weekend for Tech sports. One piece of bad news as Bay-Bay decided to go pro. Not entirely unexpected, but losing a player that good is never a good thing.
We also found out on Friday that Paul Johnson will not bring back Dave Wommack as defensive coordinator. THIS would fall under good news. Our defense was embarrassingly bad for most of the season, and despite that, we won 11 games. As a lot of people have said, I love what is shows in CPJ that after finishing 11-3, winning the ACC, and going to a BCS Bowl, he's willing to fire our defensive coordinator. The man has high standards and expects to do bigger things at Tech, and those bigger things require a good defense. Bravo, CPJ!
The only name that seems to be going around the rumor mill is former UVA coach, Al Groh. It's even been reported on some rumor sites that he has already been hired and an announcement will come by Wednesday. More on Groh when/if the hire takes place, but at a glance, this seems like a very solid hire. He wasnt a great head coach, but was a good defensive coordinator before that and his UVA defenses were always solid.
Sticking with football, there's a press conference today involving our 3 other juniors contemplating the NFL draft. That they're all doing the conference together makes me think they're all going pro, but we'll see. It's been pretty much assumed that Derrick Morgan will leave, and Dwyer most likely, but seeing Morgan Burnett go would surprise me. It would certainly give our new defensive coordinator a project next year.
Then there's basketball. Our team did what I honestly thought they had almost no chance of doing. Not judging by the way they've played against any decent competition this year. And judging by the first few minutes of the game, I was saying, "Here we go again." We came out sloppy, playing our typical unorganized, turnover-filled basketball.
An analyst said before the game that last year an ACC coach told him they were trailing GT and he called a timeout and told his team, "Don't worry, they invent ways to turn over the basketball." The other coaches and I think most analysts know our team is so undisciplined; they just can't say anything on camera.
Then something happened. We still stood around on offense, but we started rebounding like mad men (particularly in the second half) and playing great defense. Gani Lawal is an absolute beast. He's helping his draft stock daily. Favors, on the other hand, doesn't seem like he's gotten the hang of the college game yet. I'm sure he's as talented as they said he is and he'll improve, but he's off to a slower start than we had hoped.
Another thing that was great - we made our free throws, especially down the stretch. This was a big win. Our first against a really good team, and it kept us from starting 0-2 in the ACC. Since this team is young and still coached by Paul Hewitt, we'll lose some games we shouldn't, but as we showed Saturday, we'll win some games we probably shouldn't, too. It doesn't change my opinion of Paul Hewitt, but it was finally fun to watch our team again, and I hope we can do enough to have some sort of postseason success while all our NBA talent is still here.
More on the juniors' press conference soon. Go Jackets!
Friday, January 8, 2010
When asked Johnson said per the AJC, “There’s going to be announcement on that later this afternoon.”
But when asked about the Groh rumor he was pretty clear. “I have no idea where that came from. It’s not true. I haven’t hired anybody.”
Well, that doesn't mean it's not possible! We can hope! Either way it shows CPJ isn't going to mess around. He knows for this team to win and win big, we need D just as much as O.
At a press conference this afternoon (1:15) Demaryius Thomas (BeBe) will officially announce
Given what he put on his Facebook page, I think we know the answer.
"Im sorry my jacket fan imma really miss you all.. But please pray 4 me this a big step for me.."
Overall I'm sure it's the right call for him. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see him grabbing balls out of the air and laying out defenders on The Flats next year but I'm not convinced that staying the extra year and risking injury would improve his draft status. Sometimes you gotta strike while the iron is hot.
BeBe, your catches were wonderful to watch and we'll miss your blocking more than you know.
We'll miss you, Thank you for all you've done for The Institute.
Post OB and Season thoughts later.
EDIT (by Steven): It's now being reported that Wommack is out! No official word on Groh yet. http://www.footballscoop.com/?cat=24
Thursday, January 7, 2010
We checked out the hotel and made our way to South Beach to meet up with friends. I want to give Daron some real credit as he did all of the driving down in Miami, which wasn't easy. He did a great job navigating with the help of his Driod (lucky bastard). We met our friends and at a Cuban restaurant with good food but lousy service.
After a quick stop at the hotel to check in and mentally prepare for the game (and the cold), we made our way to Landshark Stadium, home of what was to be the coldest Orange Bowl on record. Parking was relatively easy to get but there some rather unusual things that were seen. For one, there was a good amount of tailgating taking place. Iowa fans seem to love the beer. Second, people were literally sitting or lying down in the paths of the parking lot. You actually had to drive around people sitting in the middle of the road because they wouldn't move. No amount of alcohol could make me forget that a car would do more damage to me that I would do to it.
However, before we could make it to the stadium, we had to fully experience the third thing that Miami is well known for. Care to guess what that was? Yep! TRAFFIC!!!!
Traffic was pretty terrible and it made me realize that Atlanta wasn't the only city with terrible street planning and too many people.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
and I don't like it. Which is why I will promptly delete the DVRed Georgia/Georgia Tech basketball game when I finally step foot inside my house after the marathon that was yesterday. Because I've already seen it way too many times. And I could have dictated the game for you without seeing the outcome:
Georgia Tech goes to Athens with the much more talented team and leaves with a loss due to a terribly unorganized half court offense filled with lots of turnovers.
Even the unbiased AP reporter wrote this:
The Yellow Jackets went 3 of 12 from beyond the arc and looked lost trying to run their offense, managing only eight assists while turning it over 20 times.
We looked lost because that IS our offense. Set one high screen and then stand still and look lost. This team is super-talented, enough that they're 11-3 at this point. We'll beat all the little guys, but it's going to be tougher when the talent level is close or when the coaching is far superior. And when there's both (like Saturday against Duke), it could get ugly.
I hate saying I want someone to lose their job, and I'm slow to board the fire someone trains, but I'm all aboard the Fire Hewitt train (and the Fire Wommack train). Hewitt seems like a great guy, and he's a good representative of Georgia Tech, but so was Chan Gailey, and Hewitt's teams underperform for their talent level much more than Gailey's did.
This doesn't mean I don't like our team or won't cheer for them. I don't want us to fail so he gets fired. I still want us to make the NCAA Tournament, and I think we can, but it's because we have 4+ NBA players; not because of our coaching. Georgia won't make the tournament this year, but it looks like they're got something to build on and they went out and got themselves a good coach. Time for us to do the same thing.
What do you guys think? Have we had enough of Hewitt? Can he save his job this season?
Well, that sucked.
Georgia Tech failed on the big stage again, showing that we're not quite to the next level yet. What Paul Johnson has done in two years is amazing, and last night's loss does not ruin the great season we just had. We won the ACC and won 11 games. But it's a crappy way to end a season (again).
Iowa straight up dominated us. The score was close, and that's mostly because their offense isn't very good. The fact that we had multiple possessions in the 4th quarter only down 3 was amazing. And we couldn't do anything with them. The offense seemed so out of sorts. Nesbitt had no time to pass, looked hesitant, and Dwyer ran backwards into the end zone...
And despite all that, we could have still had another possession, but the defense couldn't get us the ball back. Overall, nothing really went well except for coming up with a few stops after they had driven the majority of the field.
Looking back on the season, the Orange Bowl loss won't hurt that much, but it could have really set us up to start with a nice ranking going into next year. And I'm sure it will play into the minds of our 4 juniors contemplating the NFL. Coming back to a Top 10 team would be a lot more appealing than having to start over and prove yourselves again.
One thing's for sure, though. Our defense is not very good. Yes, they kept us in this game and only gave up 24 points, but Iowa's offense is not good, and we made it look good. We made everyone look good this year. Our offense was just good enough to make up for it. When it doesn't show up like last night, Miami this year, and LSU last year, we get embarrassed.
Personally (and I know I'm not alone here), I think it's time for a change. CPJ needs to get rid of Wommack. There are plenty of good, proven D-Coordinators out there. Bring one in and take some pressure off your offense. Every run to the outside should not result in 25 yards, and receivers should not catch passes with no defender within 15 yards of them, especially on 3rd and long...
Oh, and during all this, our basketball team lost in Athens. Again. More on that later.
I've never been a pessimist, but last night sucked. It was a not-fun realization that there's still work to be done to get to the next level. We won the ACC in CPJ's second year, which is awesome, and we're as high as you can get within the conference, but the gap between that and the elite teams in the country is big, and we need a good defense to get there.
What do you guys think? Time for Wommack to go? How much does the Orange Bowl loss put a damper on the season? And which Juniors will go pro this year?
Monday, January 4, 2010
While we were gone:
• The basketball team crushed Winston-Salem State and survived a road game against a good Charlotte team. They'll take on uga in Athens an hour before the Orange Bowl.
• Former basketball player, Javaris Crittenton, apparently pulled a gun on Gilbert Arenas in the locker room... nice. Way to represent the Institute.
• The football team went to Miami...
See? Told you it was a slow time for GT sports. It gets fun tomorrow, though. Here's what my day will look like (if everything goes according to plan):
8 am - Go into work early
2 pm - Leave work for the airport
4 pm - Fly to Miami
6 pm - Land in Miami, get ride to Stadium
7 pm - GT tips off at uga
8 pm - Watch kickoff of Georgia Tech's first Orange Bowl since before some of the team's parents were born
9 pm - Check score on phone to see that GT finally wins a basketball game in Athens for the first time since anyone on the team was born
11:30 pm - Celebrate Georgia Tech's first Orange Bowl victory since before some of the team's grandparents were born
5:45 am - Fly back to Atlanta
8 am - Go into work early again
Needless to say, I won't be making any blog posts tomorrow, but you can follow the adventure on Twitter: http://twitter.com/steven_little
Go Jackets! To Hell with georgia and Iowa!