While we wait for Wake Forest to get here…we have a few topics to discuss.
First, a trivia question: what do Maryland and Virginia, the top two teams in the ACC rankings have in common? Each has only one loss, and it came to Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons last lost at Duke on Jan. 17, by 20, but have won back-to-back games against North Carolina and Virginia since.
Duke held Wake’s senior point guard Ishmael Smith to 7 points on 3-for-12 shooting that night at Cameron. Smith fouled out of the game (and still played 36 minutes) and looked visibly frustrated on the TV screen. Since that game? Smith has scored 20 points against North Carolina, 21 points against Virginia, and he’s the reigning ACC player of the week.
Someone asked Paul Hewitt today before practice when was the last time he’d seen someone so fast with the ball in his hands as Smith.
“Tywon Lawson,” Hewitt said, laughing. “I’m glad he’s not here anymore. Actually, Ishmael smith might be faster with the ball.”
Hey, not too many breaks in the ACC. And Tech is in the thick of it now.
Mfon’s Minutes Part II
Hewitt addressed a couple of points of interest today…
As mentioned before Mfon Udofia’s minutes have steadily declined, from 41 minutes in Tech’s ACC opener against FSU to 13 minutes Sunday against FSU.
It’s pretty clear that a healthy Iman Shumpert is Hewitt’s first pick for primary ball-handling duties in ACC competition. It’s also clear that Udofia isn’t as comfortable on the wing as he was at point guard. He’s 3-for-13 for 9 points in his past three games, with Shumpert doing most of the ball-handling.
“I just think he’s had a tough time shooting the ball,” Hewitt said. “Like most freshman when they’re not shooting it well, they start maybe to press a little bit. I still think that he plays as well defensively as anybody we have, and he’s a guy that gets loose balls and makes hustle plays. He’s just got to get back to what he did early in the year to get himself so much playing time. He just plays harder than everybody else.”
Mfon acknowledged it’s been a challenging adjustment from point guard where he’s played most of his life to the wing, where he’s not able to create his own shot as much.
When asked if he anticipated playing this much on the wing, Udofia said, “Not really. I just wanted to come here and play. This is the position I got put in, so I’ll do the best I can.”
Hewitt did say part of the reason Mfon’s minutes were down so much against FSU on Sunday was because of how well Brian Oliver and Glen Rice Jr. were playing in that game.
Free Throw Woes
As a team Tech shot only 50 percent at the free throw line in the last two games – 11-for-22 against Clemson and 11-for-22 against FSU.
One game might have been a fluke, but after two in a row, Hewitt was ready to switch up some of the free throw games the Yellow Jackets use at practice, if nothing else to break the routine.
Gani Lawal is a guy who’s going to talk a bulk of the free throws, and he’s been struggling the last few games. He was 3-for-8 against FSU and 2-for-6 against Clemson (and 2-for-6 against Virginia two games prior to that). In the last five games he’s shooting 50 percent at the line (14-for-28). The six games before that, he was shooting 76 percent (38-for-50).
Against Clemson and FSU, Lawal looked a little stiff at the line, like he might be falling into some bad habits from last year. (But hey, I wasn’t watching as much last year, so maybe you guys can tell me!)
Anyway, Hewitt said Lawal came into the gym on the team’s off day Monday and felt like he worked it out.
“I think his lower body hasn’t been relaxed enough,” Hewitt said. “That’s one of the things we talked about.”
Lawal said he’s just got to keep working on them.
It’s a work-in-progress,” he said.
Hey, it’s a new age, and players have a new method of communicating with their coaches. Hewitt was talking today about how Tech spoiled several opportunities in the final two minutes against FSU by not paying attention to detail.
And then he said he didn’t have to remind his players much about that because….
“I got text messages Monday morning from guys saying ‘Coach, sorry, promise we’re going to start paying attention to stuff now,’” Hewitt said.
Did Ya Know?
Derrick Favors, who had his No. 34 South Atlanta jersey retired Tuesday night, wears No. 14 now because when he got to Tech Brad Sheehan was wearing No. 34….
Wake Forest forward Al-Farouq Aminu, who happens to be leading the ACC with 11.4 rebounds per game, and Gani Lawal were teammates on the 2007 state championship team at Norcross High which went 30-3.
As for why Al-Farouf chose Wake Forest over playing with his brother Alade Aminu at Tech?
“His mom felt a smaller school atmosphere was better for him,” Hewitt said.