Recapping '05 and Lookin' Ahead -- Georgia Tech
The Jackets followed up their awesome run to the NCAA title game in '04 with what many felt was a disappointment in '05. Coming off of the Final Four appearance, the Jackets were placed in the top ten in both the Coaches and AP preseason polls. I thought those lofty rankings were ridiculous at the time, and while you might could argue that injuries kept Tech from playing to its potential (I wouldn't buy it), it's apparent they weren't nearly that good.
All that aside, the Jackets did manage an 8-8 conference record and nearly won the ACC tournament title. That's not too shabby. They became a trendy Elite Eight pick thanks mostly to such obviously tangible factors as "leadership" and "tournament experience," but of course never sniffed the tournament's second weekend.
The bottom line? Good defense, but a nothin'-special offense. You can see what I mean by going here.
Don't sound the alarms just yet, but the Jackets are losing a whole heap (mon).
Graduating seniors include BJ Elder, Will Bynum, Luuuuuuke! Schenscher, Isma'il Muhammad, and Anthony McHenry. Freshman Zam Frederick is transferring, while Jarrett Jack will almost certainly declare for the NBA draft. Yikes.
Take a look at what Tech loses with these seven players:
% of Team Min: 77
% of Team FGA: 80.4
% of Team Tot Rebs: 63
% of Team Scoring: 80.5
Here are the individual numbers (explained here):
|Player||O Rtg||% Poss||Min/G||PPG||FG%||3FG%||Floor %||Pts Prod/G||PPFGA|
Ken Pomeroy has already discussed Isma'il Muhammad's issues, so I won't bother.
I know Schenscher had a tendency to frustrate Tech fans, but his numbers were pretty good, particularly for a seven-footer. He bolstered Tech's defense and wasn't a liability at the offensive end. That's significant for a center.
Many teams sacrifice offense for the sake of playing a center who'll make a difference at the defensive end. Georgia Tech didn't have to worry about that sort of dilemma.
Jarrett Jack...team MVP without a doubt. On a team lacking efficient scorers, Jack was that and then some. He led the ACC in PPFGA thanks to impressive shooting from the field and a great free throw percentage (86.6%). In the above link to Pomeroy's post, he suggests that had Jack gone down to injury rather than Elder, the Jackets never would have been in a position to make the NCAAs. It's hard to disagree with that assertion.
Jack was one of my favorite players to watch. I hope he decides to put off the NBA for one more year.
Bynum and Elder were guys who could score a lot of points on any given day (Bynum had a spectacular 30+ point performance against UNC in the ACC tourney), but in general they didn't score efficiently.
If you look at some of the guys who got the bulk of Tech's minutes--Elder, Bynum, McHenry, Muhammad--it becomes more apparent why the Jackets didn't have a particularly efficient offense.
Back in February, when I looked at the league's points-per-minute leaders, I suggested that Ra'Sean Dickey might deserve some more PT. Dickey was one of Tech's most productive players on a per-minute basis, leading the team in Rebounds/40 Min and coming in second in Points/40 Min. That's impressive. Tech will need him to be a bright spot next year.
Georgia Tech has an excellent class coming in (and there's plenty of playing time to go around, that's for sure). But it's unlikely that all four of those guys are immediate impact players, so the Jackets are bound to struggle.
Anthony Morrow and Ra'Sean Dickey will need to be the cornerstones of the lineup next season and they'll only be sophomores. Assuming Jack is indeed gone, I think Paul Hewitt will have worked a miracle if he gets Tech into the NCAAs in 2006.