Breaking down the basketball roster

In case you missed it, Tech’s top two hoops recruits capped their high school careers with state championships.

Derrick Favors had 38 points in South Atlanta’s Class AAA victory, and Mfon Udofia, after scoring 67 points in quarterfinal and semifinal wins, had 12 points in Miller Grove’s AAAA final.

They’re among five, and possibly six, incoming freshmen. Tech still has one scholarship available, and is trying to add another big man. Brian Okam, a 6-11 senior at an Orlando prep school, was at the top of the list, but he just committed to Rutgers over Tech.

D’Andre Bell (spinal surgery) has started his rehab and it will be about six weeks before we know if he’s cleared to return for a final year. If he isn’t, Tech would have two scholarships available.

In any case, 7 of the 9 Jackets who played in the ACC quarterfinal loss to Florida State are scheduled to be back. (This assumes Gani Lawal doesn’t opt for the NBA draft). Everyone except Lewis Clinch, who made the ACC’s All-Tournament Second Team, and Alade Aminu.

Here’s a quick look at how each performed this season and where they need to improve:

Gani Lawal: The sophomore forward averaged 15.1 points (second to Clinch’s 15.5), 9.5 rebounds (second in the ACC) and 1.5 blocks. His shooting percentage of 55.6 also ranked second in the league.

Made a huge jump from Year 1 to Year 2, earning third-team All-ACC honors. Brings relentless effort, combined with tremendous athleticism. Has developed a nice 12-foot bank shot from either side. Needs to improve his foul shooting (55.9 percent) and his reaction to double-teams. Had 79 turnovers and 19 assists.

If Lawal makes another substantial leap from Year 2 to Year 3, Tech would be in great shape in the frontcourt.

Iman Shumpert: The freshman guard ranked fourth in the ACC in assists (5.0) and led the league in steals (2.1) while averaging 10.6 points and 3.9 rebounds. Made the ACC’s All-Freshman team. But he shot just 39.1 percent and was way too careless with the ball (3.7 turnovers).

With Clinch and Moe Miller sidelined at various times, Shumpert played too many minutes (31.6) and appeared to wear down. Only Clinch averaged more minutes for Tech, and he missed the first seven games due to academics. Shumpert played 981 minutes. Next highest was Lawal, at 919.

Shumpert’s talent is not overrated, as some have said. But his decision-making must improve. Shumpert launched some very questionable 3-pointers from 25 feet. (On an unrelated note, he took full blame for letting FSU’s Derwin Kitchen break free for the game-winning 3-point play.)

Zachery Peacock: A somewhat puzzling year for the junior forward. Averaged 9.2 points and 4.8 rebounds while playing 24.7 minutes. Was bothered by knee tendonitis, and a lot of his shots came up short. Also wasn’t comfortable playing on the perimeter early in the season.

Led the regulars in free throw shooting at 73.3 percent (though your guards should shoot better than that). Also showed nice touch when stepping into 3-pointers (6 of 15).

Like everyone, committed too many turnovers. Peacock had 62 turnovers, 28 assists.

Looked like he was going to be the hero of the FSU game — his turnaround gave Tech a 62-61 lead with 29 seconds left — until the defensive breakdown.

Moe Miller: Almost a lost year. The sophomore point guard missed eight games with a pair of concussions and a broken nose, underwent surgery, and never consistently found the form he showed at the end of his freshman season.

Averaged 5.8 points and 4.3 assists, in 24.5 minutes. Also 2.9 turnovers.

Shot a team-worst 29.6 percent.

It will be interesting to see the backcourt rotation among Shumpert, Miller, Udofia and Lance Storrs.

Lance Storrs: The sophomore averaged 4.1 points while playing 20.8 minutes. Shot 35.3 percent on 3-pointers, best among the guards. Pretty good defender.

Needs to become a better ballhandler. Must work harder to get open and be ready to shoot as soon as he catches it.

Nick Foreman: You can’t ask for more from a walk-on freshman. Played in every game, starting two. Averaged 12.8 minutes because of his in-your-face defense. Had 17 steals, and more assists than turnovers (12-9).

Shot 37 percent, averaged 1.7 points. Will be left open sometimes so needs to be able to hit midrange jumpers.

Brad Sheehan: The 7-foot sophomore played 9.1 minutes. Averaged 2.1 points, 1.8 rebounds. Must continue to get stronger so he can be used 12 -15 minutes a game backing up Lawal/Favors/Peacock.

Sets the best screens of anyone on the team.

Do you agree or disagree with those player assessments, and why?

36 comments Add your comment

Tony

March 15th, 2009
11:47 pm

I would like Storr to shot more and go strong to the hoop becuase he has a big body.

halfmetaljacket

March 16th, 2009
1:06 am

Good summary.

For next year, excellent balance of talent and experience.

Lawal, Shumpert and Favors = 3 Burger Boys. Who else other than Duke and UNC have so many five star players? Peacock, Bell and Miller bring a lot of experience. Udofia is a four star PG and Rice might be too good not to play.

Tech hasn’t had this big a core of talent and experience to build around since can’t remember when. The quality of the depth is awesome.

What remains to be seen is if the coach staff establishes a team scheme on both O and D and coaches this talent to know their roles in these schemes. Too often these past three years, we look tentative or lost and play with ebb and flow intensity.

BravesFan79

March 16th, 2009
3:59 am

Next year will be a BIG year for GT…. but this team will never reach its potential without some better, more established assistants!!

Tokyo jacket

March 16th, 2009
4:35 am

Next year’s team reminds me of the 2004 team with so much depth. Although, the 2004 team had more experience. Don’t brag about 5-stars. Football should tell you that doesn’t mean as much as you’d think. I agree that intensity is probably the number one thing that has to be improved/regulated.

Gordon

March 16th, 2009
6:07 am

Udofia is the key to next year. Shumpert needs to play shooting guard. Hopefully Miller will have a better year as a backup point. I agree with BravesFan79 about needing at least one better assistant. Hopefully one who knows something about offense.

If Lawal returns, there should be no excuse for not winning at least 20 games, 9 in conference, and being a 6 seed or higher.

Carolina Jacket

March 16th, 2009
7:41 am

It will be really interesting to see the player rotation next year. Tech could almost use the old UNC “blue team” concept where you bring in a fresh whole team that plays together all the time. They will surely have the horses to do it and the key is that they always practice together and play together.

Carolina Jacket

March 16th, 2009
7:42 am

Enter your comments here

yellowblood

March 16th, 2009
8:18 am

One great Tickle Pile then the doldrums return!!!THWG!!!

Atlanta Jackets

March 16th, 2009
8:20 am

Give me Mo’ Miller! LOL! He and Derrick Favors will lead us back to the Final Four next year! Mark it down. By the time Favors graduates, we’ll have 2 ACC titles and at least one NCAA title. Mark. It. Down.

Phildo

March 16th, 2009
8:50 am

Forgot to rate the coach.
C. Paul Hewitt: Nine year veteran. Has shown rare glimpses of promise, including a Final Four appearance, but steadily underperforms. Tactics and on-the-court decisions, particulary at critical times, sadly lacking. A master of excuses and holding forth the “promise” of next year. Superior contract negotiator, capable of transforming a fluke event into a vise grip on his employer. A steady ACC (end of the) benchwarmer. Not a walk-on when recruited. Could possibly walk-on at a D-2 or D-3 school at this point.

Burdell

March 16th, 2009
9:10 am

Sheehan remains a puzzle to me. His on-court presence seems to waver somewhere between tentative and bewildered. I’d love to see his size be more relevant on the court, but nothing this year seemed to promise that. Is it a failure to “coach him up”, or is it just his approach to the game?

It's getting Old

March 16th, 2009
9:11 am

Oh wow, more people bashing and criticizing Coach Hewitt. We’ve never seen that on these blogs before. Find some new material to discuss, guys!

ND

March 16th, 2009
9:16 am

Sheehan should transfer. He will never be a factor playing for CPH. If he stays his production will not improve but it won’t be his fault.

RAMBLE ON!!!

March 16th, 2009
9:30 am

With all this talent returning and our recruiting class coming in, there is no way we can’t win it all in the NIT next year!!!

I can’t wait, we should win at least 6 maybe 7 ACC games.

The way I see it, since we paid Hewitt $433,333 per ACC win in this booming economy. Next year, we should give him a bonus of 1.3 million or 1.7 million if he wins 7 and a NIT bid. He’ll have earned it.

The Thriller Dome will be rocking!!!

NIT, NIT, NIT, NIT!!!

Phildo

March 16th, 2009
9:38 am

Hey, It’s Getting Old, it’s getting old because Hewitt’s schtick is getting old. Get a clue. He’s getting bashed because of his own doing, or lack thereof.

Glen

March 16th, 2009
9:53 am

GT fans are dumb when it comes to sports. I am a GT fan, we have some dumb fans who have never picked up a ball in their lives. We will be back next year, either get excited or don’t jump back on the bandwagon when they boys are playing well.

Ken Sugiura

March 16th, 2009
10:06 am

I hadn’t watched Sheehan play as a freshman, so I can’t judge his progress well, but I think he has some promise. He seems to have good basketball sense and has at least shown in spurts that he can pass and shoot. Mike Stamus, Tech’s basketball publicist, said the other day to me that in Tech’s loss at N.C. State, in the 14 minutes that Sheehan played, Tech scored something like 30 points. Obviously, it wasn’t all his doing, but I remember that he did a lot of the small things – screening, for instance – that allowed the offense to flow. That said, one game does not a season make, but it seems to me that if he can do it once, then he can do it more often than that (and it’s not like that was the only game that he was effective). But strength probably has a lot to do with getting there.

RAMBLE ON!!!

March 16th, 2009
10:09 am

That’s right Glen, I’m excited. If we could learn to make 65% free throws, WE COULD BE A BUBBLE TEAM!!!

BUBBLE TEAM, BUBBLE TEAM, BUBBLE TEAM, BUBBLE TEAM!!!

Keith in Midtown

March 16th, 2009
10:44 am

Does anyone else think maybe a lighter yellow would look better on our uniforms?

RedGADawg

March 16th, 2009
10:44 am

Amazes me that you guys blame the assistants, they are the recruiters who bring in the talent, Hewitt is in charge, can’t be fired, look to the top for why Yella Bugs can not win. Top conference, good recruiting bad head coach. Wonder why Favors is coming for one year, my advice to him pick a team that needs you for one year, like a Memphis, surround yourself with established team mates and a proven coach who can coach up. Then a one and done is fun, my prediction is next year will see EngiWrecks as a Bubble team at best! Then what is excuse except BAD Head Coach!

Rob

March 16th, 2009
11:06 am

It won’t matter what players Tech has…as long as Hewitt is the HC the season will be a failure.

GTSteve

March 16th, 2009
11:27 am

I think this Neil Patrick Harris kid out of California is going to be a spark for us

Burdell

March 16th, 2009
11:38 am

Ken: Thanks for the additional thoughts on Sheehan. Here’s hoping another year will make him more of a factor.

ND

March 16th, 2009
11:39 am

Ken, I think Sheehan could be a very good role player just not under CPH. You can tell he isn’t coached very well when he is on the floor and what kind of confidence can he possibly have when he plays a few minutes one game and zero in another? It shouldn’t take until his Sr year before he is a factor, but if he stays that is the earliest he will be one.

The GM

March 16th, 2009
11:44 am

DRad knows fans are fed up with Hewitt’s excuses and lack of coaching. He can simply tell Hewitt he is going to micro manage his coaching, assistant jiring and recruiting which should ultimately force Hewitt out without the $7 million buyout. There are ways to get around this insane contract and I predict Drad is already along in the process of finding them.

SlimG

March 16th, 2009
12:12 pm

Only one real D1 player on this whole list. Clinch was second team all acc, charity I say. Maybe next year we can be competitive and dance the following year. We are still a few years away from competing for a championship. With NC, Duke, and Wake, we are still behind the curve. Hopefully the lame fan base will wake up and start supporting these guys in hard times. Oh, I forgot, this is tech. Frontrunner U.

OG-T

March 16th, 2009
1:26 pm

Enough CPH. Enough past season. Assuming NO injuries, or academic defections, next year there should be NO excuses from the coaches. We will have a VERY good blend of experience, and multiple options at every position, AND (if D-Bell returns) a critical leader that every team needs to make a serious run. D-Bell could fill the Clarence Moore psyche role, and a Mario West defensive role. That would be HUGE. Way TOO much talent to not be a major player from day one. And I will NOT buy-in to any of the coach’s talking about youth being a concern. The coaching staff knows how much young talent is coming in, and they need to have a precise, well-thought strategy on how to nurture and blend the talent. I will not accept at game 15 of the season a “we’re still working with it” in regard to player rotation.

BIG BEE

March 16th, 2009
1:35 pm

Listen I don’t care if the whole team is gay as long as we beat Wake

T-Bone

March 16th, 2009
2:11 pm

Everyone is missing one glaring weakness (besides the coaching): lack of good, consistent outside shooting. What was the biggest thing missing from the 04-05 squad (especially after Elder’s injury)? The solid three-point shooting that Marvin Lewis provided in 03-04. This team should be (and will be) much better than this year’s sorry squad, but if teams can just double and triple Lawal and Favors, leaving Storrs, Shumpert, Miller, Bell, Foreman wide open without consequence, this team will be on the bubble and probably one and done in the tournament. Hewitt has not done a good job of recruiting pure shooters, opting instead for long “athletes.”

Hmmmmm

March 16th, 2009
3:11 pm

Rutgers…….. Is that for real?

yellowblood

March 16th, 2009
3:32 pm

Go Dawgs!!!!

mowreck

March 16th, 2009
5:09 pm

Atlanta Jacket, as far as I’m concerned you can have mo miller. Just keep him OFF the floor. Mark this down … he won’t see much playing time next year when the new point guard gets here. Christ, he turn the ball over or shot the worst shots more times this season than any player. And, I’m talking at critical times in the game.

Born2Buzz

March 16th, 2009
5:37 pm

T-Bone, you hit it. We are losing our only real outside shooting threat in Clinch. Hopefully Glen Rice is better than Storrs, who was supposed to be a great shooter. Storrs can shoot when left wide open but he has no ability to create his own shot.

Will need big improvements from Shumpert, especially if Paul lets him run the team like he did this year. Man it sucked watching a freshman, who has some talent but clearly wasn’t ready for it, be counted on as the MAN for the team.

Here is my problem with Hewitt and his recruiting. If you have 12-13 scholarships total then why are you bringing in 1 player one year and 6 players the next year. Oh, because you thought you weren’t going to lose 2 players early the year before. Well, you thought wrong and so did we.

Next year is IT for Paul. He has to exceed expectations or it’s over. It’s going to be tough because once again we will be counting on a lot of freshmen. And again, we will only have 1 senior on the roster. You cannot win big in the ACC or anywhere for that matter when you are constantly depending on freshmen and sophmores.

Look at Carolina, every player on that team that got significant minutes was either a senior or junior. Duke was only a little younger with mostly juniors leading the way and Singler as a soph. But still, it was mostly upperclassment leading their team.
Since 04 and 05 Paul has been playing mostly sophs and freshmen. That is not the way to build a successful basketball program and thus we just had another poor season. It’s not so much the coaching as it’s a poor job in total program management.

Carolina Jacket

March 16th, 2009
6:28 pm

I just wonder what some of you guys will have to say if Tech wins the close one next year and has a good year. Are you going to be pleased that Tech had a good year or pissed off that he did? Or will you just realize that nobody will remember who wrote what.

Neil Patrick Harris

March 16th, 2009
7:05 pm

I just love slim g he is sooo wonderfull. He is my kind of guy.

AMG

March 16th, 2009
7:34 pm

I want Tech to win next year and I want us to fire Hewitt. Don’t care to wait until next year to fire him. I would rather hire a washed up high school coach than have him back at Tech, still want us to win. For those sick of hearing the rants, Try either winning or firing the coach, then we will shut up!