It’s not the ‘Ol Guard atop the ACC, but it’s old guards

Yes, it’s early, but I just noticed something when studying the ACC standings this morning….The top four teams in the league? They have great guard play, and experienced great guard play. For all the talk of how dominant frontcourts were going to be across the ACC this year, maybe it’s coming down to the littler guys with the ball in their hands after all.

Here’s how it breaks down:

Maryland (3-1): Their backcourt of Eric Hayes and Greivis Vasquez? Two seniors.

Virginia (3-1): this season’s surprise so far… plays a four-guard offense at times. Calvin Baker is a senior, Jeff Jones and Mustapha Farrakham, two guards off the bench, are juniors.

Duke (4-2): You all know about Jon Scheyer, Nolan Smith and the new “addition” to the perimeter in Kyle Singler. Scheyer is a senior, the other two are juniors.

Wake Forest (4-2): A big reason why the Deacons are off to a good start is senior point guard Ish Smith, who is averaging 13.5 points and 5.9 assists.

The converse is true too. North Carolina is 1-3 in ACC play and struggling on the perimeter. Point guard Larry Drew is leading the league with 6.4 assists per game, in a somewhat baffling figure. He’s also averaging 3.3 turnovers.

Miami, I don’t know much about yet, but I know they lost their top guard from last season in Jack McClinton and they’re 1-4 in the ACC.

So where does Georgia Tech fit into that? They have a young backcourt with freshman Mfon Udofia and sophomore Iman Shumpert and that’s got to be contributing to their inconsistent play, no?

Let’s take Mfon. Right now, his minutes are in a steady decline. Let’s take him from the start of ACC play to now: he played 41 minutes in the first meeting with FSU, 34 minutes against Duke, 30 minutes against Virginia, 20 minutes against UNC, 19 minutes against Clemson and 13 minutes against Florida State on Sunday.

From 41 minutes to 13 in a span of six ACC games. Some of that is a natural decline with the return of Iman Shumpert from knee surgery. But there’s no denying Mfon’s play in ACC competition has dropped off lately.

Tech coach Paul Hewitt addressed that on the ACC coaches teleconference this morning, and whether he thought Udofia was comfortable playing more wing now that Shumpert is back healthy:

“I think earlier in the year he was pretty comfortable with it,” Hewitt said. “Obviously he’s not playing as well as he did earlier in the year, I think some of that has to do with people scout you and they try to take certain things away. It’s part of being a young player in this league. But he’ll be fine. He’s a smart player, a very tough competitor so he’ll turn it around. He’ll start playing better.”

I think one of the things teams are taking away from Udofia is his driving ability. We don’t see as much of the slashing.

I picture him lately grabbing offensive rebounds and trying to put them back up against tall guys and getting shots blocked. I think that works if you’re 6-foot-5, a bigger guard, like Shumpert or Scheyer. In his case, Mfon (who is closer to 6-foot-2) might be better served to back the ball back out, or pass it out and restart the offense.

Tech is 3-3 in the ACC. Yes all that separates the Yellow Jackets from Duke or Wake Forest at 4-2 is for one of those shots to fall late Sunday against Florida State.

And contrary to some suggestions on the blog after Sunday’s loss, I happen to think Tech had plenty of good chances to win, was in a position to win late and just couldn’t make the big shot. They had Zachery Peacock on the free throw line, their best free throw shooter, and he misses the front end. They have their best player, Gani Lawal, get a shot inside of 12 feet in the final seconds and he missed, and they had Shumpert there getting a hand on an offensive rebound and potential putback off Gani’s miss, and he couldn’t make it either. You want your best guys to make plays for you in the end, and they couldn’t convert.

But I’m drifting off point….I suppose the good news for teams with young guards is they have more room to grow during the course of a season. There’s a chance for more improvement. Or maybe that’s reaching. Regardless, Tech looks to rebound Thursday against Wake Forest. It’s one of five remaining home games for Tech (2-1 at home, 1-2 road). They need to hold serve. But hey, that’s another blog for another day perhaps.

For now, I’m hitting the post button.

38 comments Add your comment

Buzzed Driving

January 25th, 2010
3:13 pm

Smith of Wake looked awesome against UNC. Tech’s gaurds need to be a bit more aggressive IMO.

Gustopher

January 25th, 2010
3:17 pm

Carroll will you be doing a story on Favors being ACC Rookie of the Week?

Buzzed Driving

January 25th, 2010
3:18 pm

…when I say aggressive, I mean more willing to draw fouls. Shumpert looks like he always tries to avoid contact when going to the hoop.

GT?? Is that a real schooL?

January 25th, 2010
3:50 pm

UGA 30 – gt 24!!!!

HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAA!!!!

WE RUN THIS STATE!!!!

UGA 73 – gt 66!!!!!!

HAHAHAHAHAAHAHA!!! gt athletics is lame and will ALWAYS be inferior to UGA!!!

Simple Question, Simple Answer

January 25th, 2010
3:59 pm

For the simpleton: “GT?? Is that a real schooL?”

http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/national-universities-rankings/page+2

Rank 35 Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA
62 2009-2010 In-state: $7,506; Out-of-state: $25,716 19,413 60.9%

Rank 58 University of Georgia Athens, GA
51 2009-2010 In-state: $6,030; Out-of-state: $22,342 34.180 55.6%

You can count your scores, and I am glad that brings you some happiness. My 6 figure salary keeps me very happy.

Technophobia

January 25th, 2010
4:21 pm

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Freshmen make a lot of mistakes and get tested to a degree they have never experienced before.

Who is the point guard?

January 25th, 2010
4:29 pm

In 2008-2009, a lot of the focus was on bringing in a PG for 2009-2010. So in 2009, Mfon (#6 PG) was recruited for that role. Now here we are in 2010, and Shumpert is still running the point. Mfon was recruited for the PG position, not the wing position.

Since Shumpert’s return from surgery Mfon’s play has suffered b/c he’s asked to play the wing, which is really a taller man’s position.

So if Shumpter is PG #1 and Mfon is PG #2, then maybe Hewitt should be starting Oliver with Shumpert in the backcourt? I’d rather like to see Mfon run the point with Shumpert as the dynamic option on the wing, which is their natural positions (at least that what I thought).

yellarjacket

January 25th, 2010
5:14 pm

You’re right Carroll. Teams with experienced guard play are on top of the ACC right now and teams with less experience are in the middle or bottom of the conference. Miami lost McClinton and Lance Hurdle and find themselves in last place. BC lost PG Tyrese Rice and their in the lower half of the conference right now. Clemson is another team who needs more consistent guard play. They lost KC Rivers and Terrence Oglesby and all they have right now is Booker to rely on.

IMO, Tech is in the same boat as Clemson when it comes to guard play and both teams rely heavily on their post players. Tech has some experience at guard with Bell and Shumpert and Clemson has Stitt and Potter. Both teams have talented underclassment logging signficant minutes. Tech uses Oliver, Rice, & Udofia. Clemson plays with Young, Noel Johnson, and Tanner Smith. Both teams rely on their inside game to provide consistent scoring. If you look at our records they’re basically the same. We’re very evenly matched which was evident in our last game against each other.

I think Tech will be fine at guard as the season progresses and in the coming years. I don’t see any of our young guards leaving early, with the exception of Shumpert. Although, I believe he’ll stay through his junior season. If we can get some consistent play from our freshman, I think we can finish in the top four of the conference and get that first round bye in the ACC tourney and hopefully get a decent seed in the NCAA tourney.

JacketFan

January 25th, 2010
5:20 pm

I totally agree with who is the poit guard. We recruited Udofia to be a point guard that is his posistion. Iman is a 2 guard so I still dont see why Udofia is at the 2 guard and Shumpert is taking over the point position. I think if Hewitt makes the correct change in guards to their natural roles, then the team will be better becuase everyone will be more cohesive on the floor.

Al

January 25th, 2010
5:21 pm

Carroll, Tech did hit a big shot near the end of the game.With FS scrambling on defense,TECH Hit the shot,but Hewitt in his haste to call time outs “BLEWITT”. Yeah, Hewitt Blewitt.

Stat Man

January 25th, 2010
5:23 pm

I wonder what award Favors would have won if he had actually SCORED in the last 11 1/2 minutes of Sunday’s 2 point loss?

Who is the point guard?

January 25th, 2010
5:47 pm

One more thing regarding Iman and Mfon … mind you I have no proof of this, but my sense is that Shumpert probably got a taste of the point position last year and liked it; liked leading the team. While Iman was out, he could only watch Mfon take over leading the team (evidenced by his 26 points vs. Sienna, and his 41 minutes at FSU). When Iman came back, he essentially wanted his team back – which is totally understanble, and as the upperclassman (relatively speaking) convinced the coaches to give him the ball-handling duties back. I’m going to these games, and remember Iman’s first game back … right in the first quarter on the first inbound play with Mfon and IMan on the court, Mfon went to take the ball up the court like he’d been doing but Iman overrode him and directed him down the court, kind of like and older sibling would treat a younger brother. Ever since that point, Iman has been the ball-handler. I think this has probably confused Mfon and it has affected his play, b/c he’s still starting, and he’s wondering why he’s on the wing when he’s never played wing and the coaches don’t want him on point. Now his play is suffering and his minutes are going to Rice and Oliver (who mind you are playing very well).

GTSteve

January 25th, 2010
6:01 pm

Excellent post

Carroll Rogers

January 25th, 2010
6:53 pm

intriguing commentary on the point guard situation. thanks…my take is oversimplified, which is come ACC time, Tech has benefitted from the guy with more experience handling the ball. …

I do think Iman has always thought of himself as a point guard, and when Hewitt recruited him here, told him (according to Shumpert) that late in games, he would be the guy with the ball in his hands. I know he wears No. 1 because it’s the number that designates a point guard on the floor. Where that leaves Mfon is where the rub is. …I do know Mfon seems to be a guy with a great attitude and who is doing everything he can to fit in where Hewitt and Shumpert want him to, but I’m sure he has his frustrations too.

Carroll Rogers

January 25th, 2010
6:53 pm

and well done, yellar.

messin with sasquatch

January 25th, 2010
8:52 pm

reality is that the tech squad has flaws, although they are getting pretty good vs the competition. They still aren’t the best ft shooters, they will turn the ball over,but I see a much improved team that IS competitive in ACC play. And stop bawling over a loss to a good fsu team, please.

Stinger Envy

January 25th, 2010
8:52 pm

((((30-24))))
((((73-66))))
((((65-50))))

When does Baseball season start?

Jimmy

January 25th, 2010
9:01 pm

Basic fundamentals cause this team to lose every time. You foul w/ JUST UNDER A MINUTE TO GO, leading by one, AFTER you just missed your front end of the one and one? Seriously??? Why be so aggresive and foul there?? I see if youre down by a point w/ under 35 secs to go, BUT YOURE UP BY A POINT! Let them rebound and set up your defense. Make the other team EARN their victory, something that is a foreign concept to a CPH coached team.

And about the NBA, I think they should implement the NFL’s rule. You’ve got 19 and 20 year olds stealing money they don’t deserve. And don’t give me that crap that they should be “allowed to make a living.” They can make a living overseas, in the NBADL or working at a restaraunt for a few years before being allowed into the league at 21. Playing in the NBA should be a privelage, not a right.

Who is the point guard?

January 25th, 2010
9:02 pm

Carroll – appreciate your response and that does amplify my case. Regarding the recruitment of Mfon, I think he was recruited by C. Young (a former point guard), and he, his advocate, is now gone. I’m pretty sure Mfon joined Tech to be the point guard; maybe not this season as the starter, but certainly going forwards. Didn’t he refer to Ga Tech as ‘Point Guard U’? … not ‘Wing U’. It’s funny b/c at the start of the season I expected the rivalry at PG to be btw Mfon and Moe Miller.

Since you’ve called out Mfon somewhat in this piece, I just thought it was worth mentioning that he is playing out of his recruited position and that, coupled with the internal politics of this team and a motionless half-court offense; and not necessarily the increased level of ACC play, is affecting his game this far into the schedule. Sorry for the long sentence.

Now lets hope that Gani does not decide that he wants to play the wing and moves Mfon to power forward, or center, whatever …

jacketfanatic

January 25th, 2010
11:06 pm

kudos to “who is the point guard”; I am a fan of Udofia, all the commentators refer to him as the point guard and shumpert as the wing guard. After the Duke game I don’t see why Udofia wasn’t given the full point guard duties because he played extremely well. Coach K siad and i quote “he played like a veteran”; i agree with the internal politics and feel that instead of trying to make guys happy, Hewitt should play people in the natural positions. I mean we are trying to when the ACC! Not make players happy(shumpert) just saying..shupert is a good player dont get me wrong i just believe he is a wing guard and will play better there!

Thrillerdome

January 25th, 2010
11:20 pm

Shumpert is a good player but clearly got jealous of Mfon’s success and Hewitt is pacifying him point blank everyone can see the situation. If Tech wants to be good for the rest of the season, he should seriously switch the guard play or at least give it a chance.

Check Udofia’s stats in the games that he started to score less points an be less “productive”, (UNC, Clemson, FSU) , he was playing the wing, being subbed in and out for offense and defense lol and made little to no error, it was just Hewitt taking him out the game.

Less Minutes made Mfon’s numbers look low, not his play!…And let’s not start with Bell, that’s a whole other story. Hewitt has got to put his foot down within the team and stop letting the premadonas push him around. Let them battle it out on the court point blank!

BuLLdawg

January 26th, 2010
1:32 am

It’s difficult to watch a coach who “coaches” the winning three pointer out of the basket and into a time out.

Stop calling TO’s and ruining the team’s tempo, Paul.

paladin

January 26th, 2010
3:30 am

‘Check Udofia’s stats….. made little to no error, it was just Hewitt taking him out the game’.

Did you see him dribble the ball into three Clemson defenders with the score tied and less than half a minute left in the game? That stupid turnover could have cost us the game!
I can appreciate his fearless, take charge mentality, but he’s too inexperienced to be on the floor in crucial situations.

Born2Buzzd

January 26th, 2010
7:35 am

Shumpert thinks he should be the star of the team and thus he wants the ball in his hands and he wants to take the big shots. Unfortunately that is not always for the betterment of the team. He has a ton of talent but needs to understand how to play the game better/smarter and not think he has to do it all.

RAMBLE ON!!!

January 26th, 2010
9:02 am

Phewitt stinks, it doesn’t matter who the pt. guard is.

How can anybody pull someone out of the game after hitting 3 straight 3 pointers like Blewitt did when he pull B. Oliver out? OMG!!!

RESIGN BLEWITT. Resign, it’s the only fair thing to do. At least you can go out with some class.

George P. Burdell

January 26th, 2010
9:12 am

Its kind of funny that we usually complain that Hewitt finds himself with no timeouts at the end of the game and now we are griping because he had one and likely used it to cost us the game. Guess it just shows you have to be careful what you wish for.

yellarjacket

January 26th, 2010
9:35 am

Who is the point guard? – you make some very good points regarding our point guard situation. However, I think Shumpert is the best fit at the point guard position right now. As you said, our half court offense is “motionless.” We need a PG that can create his own shot or set up an open shot for someone else. I believe Shumpert is able to do that. He is by far the best ball handler on the team. Not to mention, he’s the best passer amoung our guards. Shumpert is the only guard who can consistently finish on the fast break and he can dictate game tempo. These are things you need from your PG.

Kudos to Mfon for his willingness to play out of position to help his team. I believe Mfon is the PG of the future at Tech, but right now Shumpert is the guy who should be controlling this team. I like your idea of having Shumpert start at the point and Brian Oliver start at the #2 guard position. I don’t like Shumpert as the off guard on the wing. He’s still too inconsistent with his jumpshot to play at shooting guard, even though he’s improved his shot from last year.

Whatever lineup Hewitt chooses, I hope we continue to improve and win some games. This team is way too talented to be considered a “bubble team” for the NCAA tourney.

juvenal

January 26th, 2010
9:36 am

when BO is hot, leave him in! enough of this frenetic subbing!

Rob

January 26th, 2010
9:47 am

Hewitt could have Mark Price at the point and still lose.

Chike

January 26th, 2010
10:44 am

Like a number of teams, GT now has guards. Each capable of handling, dishing, or scoring. This is essential against the press that most of the ACC employed against us in years pass. Even J.Jack had periods when the off guard couldn’t get the ball up court.
Mufon’s time will increase as his defense and decision making dictate.
It’s beginning to look like Paul can coach when he’s got real options!
Who’d of thunk it!

RAMBLE ON!!!

January 26th, 2010
11:45 am

Hewitt would coach Mark Price into a 75% free throw shooter.

Tech Hoops

January 26th, 2010
12:35 pm

God you Hewitt bashers just won’t let up. WE are having a good season. Yes 3 losses in the ACC but those 2 to FSU could have gone either way. I undertand we don’t pull away from the competition and win convincingly. But, we are winning at a pretty good clip. And look at this article, its about guard play. We’ve been talking about the front court all season and now we can talk about the guards. Because theya re developing. Udofia and Favors are going through the freshmen adjustments. And you guys only look at the offense. Took out Oliver after draining 3’s. If you look, Hewitt takes out people for busted devensive assignments. And his defense is pretty good. 2nd in the ACC and 7th in the nation. Doesn’t sound like a coach who doesn’t know how to coach to me. You look at the games, its tough to score on the Yellow JAckets. UNC had the ball with a chance to win down the stretch and could not. Duke could not catch up and they hit 2 3’s late. This is defense folks. And with the team coming together, we are getting very tough. Remember, the home stretch is where HEwitts teams come together. They peak at the end of the season and I expect no less with this group. In fact, I expect to see added improvement vs past teams because of the talent. WE are very talented and you don’t essentially lead the ACC in FG defense and top 10 in the naiton without that coming from coaching. Free Throw shooting was ont he rise and the last 2 games has been a bit worse. We shot 79% to Duke’s 69% at the stripe. Beating a coach K team at the line is huge in my book. So just lay off the negative stuff. We have been in every game this season. Only lost to good teams except UVA and they beat Clemson and are at the top of the ACC. FSU, losses someone said they can’t handle. That team has a bigger front court and is the top FG defense team IN THE NATION. So, quit with this we lose to teams we are supposed to beat. not this season. We had 1 bad second half against UVA, went over 8-9 mins down the stretch with 4 points. Other than that, we have been in each game at the end. So, as February approaches, just remember that is the month that Hewitt does his best in the ACC. If we can just hold serve in Jan then we will be fine. And we have a winning record in Jan, where in Jan of past years we were losing badly.

Go Jackets!! Can’t wait to see this team take out Wake Thursday. I got my tickets and am ready to go.

Same ole, Same Ole

January 26th, 2010
1:27 pm

Lets be honest here. Most Tech fans expected after Gani stayed and Favors commited that we would be better than 3-3 in the ACC by now. With all the losses to lesser teams and Duke not what they are cracked up to be, we should be undefeated. NC is simply awful so we had the chance. If you think We are getting our moneys worth out of Favors, then consider what he would be doing at NC or Duke, or even, yes, Georgia under Fox. There is a guy who has a group of limited talent playing like a real team. I have come to the conclusion that no matter who we sign, we still have Paul Hewitt to coach. He is a nice guy and a good representative of Tech. So lets learn to live with it.

bobby ray allen

January 26th, 2010
4:08 pm

would someone please tell me why Lance Storrs is not playing….he played some last year….he is a junior and should be playing…….he will be around when the others have gone on….he needs the playing time so he can help in the future….

Carroll Rogers

January 26th, 2010
6:08 pm

Love the diversity of posts, just between 12:35 and 1:37….That’s what we’re here for folks…

Bobby Ray, it’s the thick of the ACC schedule. This is not the time to be grooming anybody for next season.

bobby ray allen

January 26th, 2010
6:56 pm

ok……i hear you Carroll Rogers……..Thanks

college b.ball fan

January 27th, 2010
9:44 am

The PG position at Tech seems to be a system/coach problem and not a player problem. I read the comment made by GT coach regarding Mfon Udofia’s ability to drive and his height. If Mfon’s height is in question then why is he running the #2 guard position…that isnt any better.
Mfon’s ability to drive isnt just coaches preparing for him, Where are your set plays such as your isolations and pick n rolls which allow most pgs to drive and create. Mfon being 6′2 has nothig to do with his production? Example:Johnny Flynn, Brandon Jennings,tru holiday, ty lawson, jeff teague, eric maynor, and darren collison are all 6′3 and under. For the exception of jon wall, every solid pg in college b.ball is under 6′2 Kalin lucas, ish smith, eric bledsoe, devon downey and corey fisher. Every pg named drives to the basket. Im sure teams prepare for these players too. But im also sure there coaches make adjustments for them to be productive and allow there floor leaders to play toward there strengths and not just a system. None of the players mentioned played for GT!!! GT has produced 2 pgs in 10 years. The problem at GT is simply system/coaching.

college b.ball fan

January 27th, 2010
11:02 am

Unfortunately PG moe miller has suffered because of this system too. These were miller’s credentials coming out of high school. Class AAA (largest classification) Mr. Basketball and Gatorade State Player of the Year for the state of Tennessee from Raleigh-Egypt High School … All-state performer as a junior and senior for head coach Jimmy Adams, and helped Raleigh-Egypt to a 128-15 record and four state tournament appearances in four seasons.
Averaged 19 points, three rebounds, four assists and 2.5 steals per game while shooting 62 percent from the field as a senior … As a junior, averaged 15.4 points, 8.3 assists and 5.4 rebounds.
Ranked as high as No. 65 among among senior prep players by Hoop Scoop, No. 78 by PrepStars.com, No. 90 by Rivals.com and Scout.com … Four-star prospect rated No. 15 among point guards.

Obviously he has the talent and dont blame his playing time on “concussions”. Its system/coaching. I wonder where confidence level is? A junior pg “caught up in the system”.

Hay ThrillerDome your right about Shumpert..GT almost loss to Duke because shumpert was getting double teamed and didnt want to give the ball to mfon…resulting in a turnover which almost cost tech the game.
He wanted to shoot FT’s instead of thinking about the win. Watch the last minute of that game and you will clearly see the play im referring to. And who still hit the crucial FT’s at the end of that game? Mfon.