The maturation of Crawford as a sophomore and the addition of an offensively efficient small forward (Hudson had a negative assist to turnover ratio) should cut down on turnovers, while Woods and Aryans represent significant upgrades to Miller-McIntyre and Hudson shooting the 3. Even with Thomas’s departure, Collins, Mitoglou, and Moore could emerge as one of the more imposing frontcourts in the conference, and there are likely to be plenty of blocked shots to help at the defensive end (Wake was 206th in the country in FG% defense a year ago). Dec. 29 pre-conference update: Georgia Tech at the very least did not hurt the ACC as much in non-conference play as they could have, as they avoided any bad losses and even had a nice road win against VCU. As for this season, Georgia Tech could be historically bad shooting the basketball, and they’re likely to have problems defending the perimeter. He’ll still have some off nights, but he should put up big numbers overall and be the key to any big wins the Deacons can manage. If he can decide on who his best players are and design his rotation accordingly by the time conference play begins, the Deacons will have a much better chance to succeed.
As an example, Tubby Smith is a horrible recruiter (partly because of his style of play), but he’s one of the best on-the-court coaches in the country (he won a national title the only time he was ever given elite talent), and he was able to take a talent-challenged Texas Tech team to a shocking NCAA Tournament appearance in his third year at the school. Wake Forest will be an unwelcome matchup in whatever tournament they end up in; they’ve played one of the toughest schedules in the country and closed out the season strong, and they feature a now dominant John Collins (23.4 points and 10.9 rebounds over his last 13 games) surrounded by very capable shooters (43rd in 3pt. %). 6-2, 215 pound junior Tadric Jackson will take over at shooting guard. The 6-10, 241 pound junior received limited opportunities due to all of the senior talent, but he managed 4 rebounds and a team leading 1.3 blocks in only 14.8 minutes per game as a sophomore; he could legitimately average 8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game as the starter. 6-9, 187 pound senior Quenton Stephens, one of streakiest shooters in college basketball, will start at small forward.
Aryans is limited athletically and won’t be particularly helpful defensively or rebounding the basketball, but he averaged 11.4 points on 35.3% shooting from 3pt. range, which should help open the lane for Crawford, and his better than 2 to 1 assist to turnover ratio as a junior will be more helpful to the team’s offensive efficiency than Hudson would have been. The Demon Deacons struggled with offensive efficiency last season, finishing 233rd in the country in assist to turnover ratio and 301st in 3pt. shooting. Among the players most effected by Miller-McIntyre’s return was junior shooting guard Mitchell Wilbekin; he averaged 10.8 points per game on 40.9% 3pt. shooting in those first eight games, but managed just 6.1 points on 31.1% shooting thereafter as his opportunities decreased with two ball dominating point guards on the floor. While he struggled with inconsistency shooting the ball and with turnovers as a freshman, he’s a capable three point shooter and passer and a disruptive defensive presence, and when he sees an opening he’s as explosive attacking the basket as anyone in the ACC. With well regarded senior leadership and a strong recruiting class, there was every reason to believe the team would begin to climb the ladder to respectability in the ACC.
7-1 Doral Moore is further reason Manning should be optimistic about his frontcourt; a top 70 recruit a year ago, he wasn’t quite as far along as Collins, but he likely could have been productive with more minutes as well. A deep NCAA run this year might actually be a bigger surprise than it was a year ago. Both seemed like treasure that might fall to the ocean floor. Woods hit an eye opening 46.6% of his shots from behind the arc as a freshman at Charlotte two years ago; he may be able to do more to open the floor for Crawford than Wilbekin, although Wilbekin’s 2 to 1 assist to turnover ratio was helpful. The emphasis needs to be on teaching, and that is a lesson that Georgia Tech will likely have a chance to learn over the next couple of years. Years ago we would use a glass flashlight lens to burn holes in paper also a magnifying len. In addition, one of the main recruiting draws at Memphis was an almost guaranteed NCAA Tournament appearance out of a clearly inferior Conference USA; once it becomes clear that those appearances will become few and far between at Georgia Tech, it’s a very real possibility that recruiting will evaporate completely unless someone else is looking to use their children as a bribe.
Unfortunately, the hire that Georgia Tech settled on is questionable at best, and the team graduated five of its top six players (four of whom were transfers- someone else had taught them how to play). If you are not sure what to do, I strongly encourage you to find someone who can help, such as a licensed plumber. Junior Greg McClinton will be the defensive alternative to Aryans at small forward; while there is certainly a possibility that he can contribute more at the offensive end, he has been tentative in that area to this point. You may want to paint the PVC as well at this point. Otherwise, the leading options in the paint will be two projects, 6-9 redshirt sophomore Abdoulaye Gueye or 6-10 redshirt freshman Sylvester Ogbonda, so Lammers should receive all the minutes and touches he can handle. In the only two games where he received 20 minutes of playing time, he averaged 16 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3 blocks.