Moe (More) Miller

For all that’s not good about having a team need to make adjustments at point guard this late in the game….let me say, that watching Moe Miller go to work in the last two games had been a neat thing to see.

You always like seeing guys do well, even more so, when they’ve been on the bench for the better part of the season, waiting for a chance.

But watching Miller do his thing the last two games, especially Tuesday night against North Carolina, I noticed something else too: he really seems to have a great knack for getting the ball to Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal, and that’s exactly what Tech needs.

Miller found Favors multiple times on the break, for dunks, including once with a no-look pass. And he had this to say about it afterward:

“It’s a beautiful feeling, just to get going,” Miller said. “I actually got going with him off the screen and roll, I got him that pass. When he dunked it, I felt like I dunked it. Ever since then I was excited, and I was hyped into it the whole way.”

Miller and Favors had a little fun sitting beside each other last night at the post-game press conference. I asked Moe if he and Favors had worked up a good chemistry in practice:

“He thinks he can pass the ball better than me but other than that,” Miller said with a smile. “He’ll be like ‘I got vision.’”

But even more importantly than just finding Favors in transition, were some of the passes Miller made to the post. I remember one play in particular in the second half, when Miller found Lawal after he’d established position down low. Lawal didn’t make the basket but got fouled on the play. I remember Lawal pointing at Miller excitedly after the play, and holding it there, until Miller saw it.

That gesture said to me “Yes, that’s exactly what I want, what I’ve been waiting for.”

Lawal missed the free throws, but the idea was there (The old issues are not going away. Lawal was 1-for-6 from the free throw line, Favors was 1-for-5. That’s nine of the 12 misses Tech had while going 12-for-24 for the game.)

There was also a time when Miller found Zachery Peacock down on the low block, and Peacock got fouled. So those two plays don’t show up as assists in the stat sheet, but they’re showing me something.

Here’s more of what Miller had to say last night about making those passes to the post:

“I just tell (Favors), and I tell Gani too, to keep working and to the best of my ability I’ll try to get it to them because I feel like they work harder than anybody on this team,” Miller said. “They bang bodies. It’s a tough job to do. So a lot of the times they deserve it because they work real hard for it. It’s my job to make that effort to get it to them.”

Miller is a junior, and he’s playing like a veteran. Maybe that experience is just what Tech needs to run the show as Iman Shumpert tries to get straightened out. Shumpert is struggling right now (zero points in the last two games. He played only 15 minutes vs. North Carolina after picking up two early fouls.)

Still eighth in the conference

Tech (18-8, 6-6) is down to four games in ACC play, two on the road at Maryland Saturday and Clemson and two at home against Boston College and Virginia Tech. You all but banking on 2-2? Why not, since Tech is 5-1 at home and 1-5 on the road in ACC play.

But then, of course, you consider that Virginia Tech just moved up to No. 2 in the ACC standings by coming from 11 points down to beat Wake Forest last night. And guard Malcolm Delaney is one of the toughest matchups in the league.

The road will be as tough as ever. On Saturday, Tech travels to DC and nothing comes easy there. Maryland rebounded from a loss at Duke by walloping Virginia 85-66 Monday night behind 30 points from Greivis Vasquez to move to 12-1 at the Comcast Center this season.

Maryland has to play N.C. State tonight while Tech is idle, after playing a makeup game against Virginia on Monday. Advantage, Tech? We shall see.

I’ll let the man of the hour explain what Tech’s mindset is at this point:

“Right now we’re not worried about ‘what’s our record in the conference,’” Miller said. “We just want to win out from here on out. Wherever we fall, if we’re second or third, or if we’re eighth, we’re 10-6. That’s our goal. Just win every game, position ourselves the best we can for the conference and for the NCAA tournament.”

28 comments Add your comment

uradork

February 17th, 2010
12:19 pm

wesleywhatwhat

February 17th, 2010
12:25 pm

starting udofia (sp?) and shumpert while moe miller rides the pine is yet another demonstration of why hewitt is a poor choice as GT’s basketball coach.

Steve T

February 17th, 2010
1:28 pm

wesleywhatwhat, I agree. Moe Miller has clearly demonstrated that he is GT’s best point guard and should be starting. I wonder what Moe was thinking whie he watched Bell’s frustration attempting to inbounds against NC State in the final minutes? Why make Bell try again and again with the same result instead of asking someone else like Moe to do it?

I also don’t see why Hewitt ever puts 2 point guards in at the same time. Last night we saw Miller in and not even playing the point. I want to see Oliver or Rice playing the wing…no one else.

And Udofia played much better last night. Right now I would start Miller and have Udofia as the main backup. Shumpert wold have to earn his minutes with his performance on the court.

yellarjacket

February 17th, 2010
1:54 pm

Glad to see Moe back in the rotation. I agree with the other posters above regarding Moe starting at the point. He has worked hard to get back on the court. He’s fought through injuries (concussions) and some confidence issues with his shot last year. Looks like he’s finally regained confidence in his play, as well as, confidence in Hewitt to give him some minutes.

I think we’re much better offensively if we work inside out. Moe’s ability to get the ball into the post and put Lawal, Favors, and Zach in position to score is exactly what we’ve been missing. Not only does it create scoring opportunities for our post players, it also allows our perimeter shooters like Oliver and Rice to get some open looks when our post guys kick the ball back out. Lawal definitely needs to work on passing out of double teams. There were several occasions last night when we had a wide open jumpshot if he would simply pass the ball when he’s double or triple teamed.

We need to go up to College Park and beat Maryland. We haven’t beaten them since 2004 season (Final Four) and have lost eight straight against the Terps. We’re due to beat them and get a signature road win on our tournament resume.

yellarjacket

February 17th, 2010
1:56 pm

I meant 2004 as in the year we went to the Final Four. We did beat Maryland on the road that year.

OMG

February 17th, 2010
2:20 pm

I was happy to see Moe played many minute last night and the offense was must improve with Moe playing the point. Iman was not a good point guard right now, he should playing the 2 guard and driving hard to the basket. Anyone remember when the last time he drive to the basket?? Lawal, please learn how to pass the ball out when Triple team.

GT FAN

February 17th, 2010
2:31 pm

Gt has a bright future with Rice and Oliver those two might be the best freshman on the team. Udofia has a lot of talent, but is a little out of control. The starting line up should be Miller Shumpert Rice Oliver Lawal.

Butts Wagner

February 17th, 2010
3:10 pm

Shumpert is not a point guard, and should not be doing any point guard duty, especially since there are already two point guards in Miller and Udofia. And yes, Udofia played well last night too. Personally, I thought Udofia was better than Miller last night. In any case, no Shumpert playing point. One other thing, UNC is terrible. Can’t really say GT did anything spectacular last night.

white & old gold

February 17th, 2010
4:39 pm

miller played extremely well last night, but he has shown at moments this year and the last that he can be a bit out of control. last night, he looked VERY mature though.
udofia will be a good PG in the future.
shumpert is not a PG, but would make a good SG probably.
oliver is one heck of a shooter and reminds me of some guy named anthony morrow.
rice is a high energy guy and i flat out loves his intensity and the way he plays in general.
bell is a leader as a senior and has a nice mid range jump shot. a good presence on the court.

just thought i’d give my thoughts on the guards.

guess GT FAN does not like Favors

February 17th, 2010
5:05 pm

even though he had a good first half last night.

Steve T

February 17th, 2010
5:16 pm

white & old gold: I think that Brian Oliver looks a lot like Dennis Scott these days. :-)

JG GT 66

February 17th, 2010
6:45 pm

CPH has ruined both Udofia and Shumpert. Shumpert is a natural 2 guard (which he played mostly in HS), but because of his size and Hewitt’s love for big point guards he tries to make him something he is not. Udofia started the year as point guard and did well for a freshman. Now Hewitt tries to make him a 2 guard and he is out of place and losing confidence. A good coach needs to understand a players abilities and where he fits best. It’s obvious that Hewitt doesn’t have that gift.

NoCoach Blewitt

February 17th, 2010
6:48 pm

So happy for Moe …….. We actually have a point guard now. I never thought I would actually see a pass into the interior the whole season. Now hopefully Blewitt realizes that the starting lineup should be either Miller, Oliver, Rice, Favors, and Lawal or Miller, Oliver, Bell, Favors and Lawal ……However I never expect Blewitt to make the right decision regarding basketball so I am sure CHUMPert will be in the starting lineup

In fact I think Mfon and Iman should only get 20 minutes combined the entire game from here on out. Neither can shoot, pass or dribble which is the main reason we avg. 20 turnovers a game

rednecks

February 17th, 2010
6:49 pm

GT fan…why would we start four guards? Our guards aren’t as good as Villanova’s. The best line up would be Moe Miller at PG, Brian Oliver or Shumpert at SG, Rice at swingman, Lawal at PF, and Favors at Forward-Center.

I like those starters,

February 17th, 2010
6:57 pm

“rednecks”.

I also hope one big guy that comes in does not get three happy…

NoCoach Blewitt

February 17th, 2010
6:58 pm

BTW good article Carroll.

I think to hit that 2-2 mark however we will need to steal one on the road. I do not think we will be VT so the game this weekend and the one against Clemson will be huge. Boston College should be a fairly easy game with Moe in the rotation however nothing should ever be surprising when discussing a team that does not seem to have a scheme on offense and rely solely on individual talent.

drew

February 17th, 2010
8:49 pm

I agree that Hewitt has definitely NOT handle the point guard situation well. It’s a testament to his incompetence that he’s spent the better part of the season with his two best point guards riding the pine while Shumpert masqueraded as a PG. Yes, Udofia struggled early…he’s a freakin’ freshman in the ACC. Moe should have beed starting from the get go, with Udofia easing into the roll. At no point should Shumpert be running the point.

I’m still not optimistic that they’ll make the big dance; what gives me hope is that they do play good team defense, and this will overcome some of their deficiencies. The offense looked better last night than they have all year, but maybe UNC gets credit for that. And as frustrating as this team has been, they DO have talent, and it’s possible they can get it together for the home stretch and make some noise in the NCAA’s. But it’s just as likely they’ll lose 3 out of 4 and be NIT bound.

ZamBonE

February 17th, 2010
9:05 pm

Mo’ Miller, Mo’ Problems

Miller has the best grasp of what CPH calls an offense. He will continue to get major minutes down the stretch as long as he can keep the bigs involved.

Go Jackets

Carroll Rogers

February 17th, 2010
10:16 pm

Thanks NoCoach….

Yellar, another Stellar post.

Go Lindsey Vonn!

Carroll Rogers

February 17th, 2010
10:16 pm

Oops, I’m not logged on, so I’m not in gray, but it’s me.

addicted

February 18th, 2010
12:15 am

I am not entirely sure if its all Hewitt’s fault.

Miller has hit a groove that he just wasn’t showing for the latter part of last season and the early part of this season. I think this was perfectly illustrated when he shot his first 3, and the commentators said “he is not even a good 3 point shooter. He shoots below 20%” or something of that nature.

Miller has definitely changed quite a bit in the last 2 games himself.

William Casey

February 18th, 2010
8:11 am

I believe Miller should start with Udofia backing him up (Matt Causey role from a few years ago) at the point. Experience is more important than talent at the point. Let Shumpert concentrate on being a “2″ to help him come out of current “funk.” He will.

Who is the PG?

February 18th, 2010
1:36 pm

My 2 cents …. there’s too much churn at the PG position for mid-Feb. CPH had it right at the beginning of the season, with Mfon and Shumpert at the 1 & 2. Moe, however, should never have been out of the rotation. A trend with this team seems to be superior bench play to starter play, with Gani as the exception. Not sure why this is … maybe the bench players are more hungry and paying attention and focusing on what needs to be done while the starters ‘play’. In any event, the PG position is a mess and CY’s departure is a causal reason. Since this situation is unlikely to resolve itself next year, Mfon might be thinking a transfer is in order (too late for Moe).

yellow

February 18th, 2010
1:37 pm

Moe Miller is and will be the difference with this team. He draws charges spreads the ball around, and is not scared to throw it inside to the big guys. Why he is not starting is beyind me.

AtlantaNative62

February 18th, 2010
2:52 pm

Moe Miller should be starting. Not only has he brought a spark to the team, he brought a spark to Tech Fans at the UNC game. I’ve been to several games this year – including Duke – and the fans were louder and more engaged at the UNC than any other. The team appeared to feed off the crowd noise too. What I really liked about Miller at this game was that he put his mistakes behind him immediately. Clearly, he brought something Tech has been lacking – leadership from the point.

Can anyone explain why he has been riding the pine this year? Did he get in Hewitt’s dog house? His not playing makes not sense to me. I am beginning to question whether Hewitt knows what the heck he is doing. Awful free throw shooting, inability to get the ball in bounds, and keeping a leader on the bench are signs he is not a good coach. What scares me is what we DON’T see.

longshot

February 18th, 2010
9:08 pm

Finale Hewitt has waken up. A lot of those dumb shots that the freshman were taking cost big leads. But, I dont see Hewitt with his thumb in the backs of the freshman like he had in the backs Mo and Storrs last season. They were ribotic, which s probably why they havent played much. Im happy for Mo, Hewitt is still an idiot

longshot

February 18th, 2010
9:10 pm

Iman is running point because he told Hewitt thats what he needs to do to go pro, howver, Why have Mfon on the floor if he isnt running point, His shot selection is terrible.

firepaulhewitt.com

February 20th, 2010
6:28 pm

No way we should be .500 in the ACC with this talent. Bobby Cremins at his worst would have competed for the ACC with this talent. Get rid of Hewitt.