MILWAUKEE – So Georgia Tech just finished its shoot-around this evening at the Bradley Center in downtown Milwaukee, but the Yellow Jackets got their real practice in this morning at the Al McGuire Center on Marquette’s campus.
Some beauty in that isn’t there? The only thing that would make it better was if James Forrest was in the gym shooting a couple 3s.
There was a gaggle of Tech fans here for the shoot-around. I think it was mainly members of the Tech pep band, but they gave the Yellow Jackets a nice, rousing greeting and then had a funny exchange with Gani Lawal made a free throw attempt in practice.
Hey, if you’re Lawal, a laugh about that probably isn’t a bad thing. Maybe he’s been a little too uptight. He needs to do something to break it up. (Lawal shot 5-for-18 from the free throw line in the ACC tournament. Yikes.)
Lawal actually had the line of the day in today’s press conference. When reporters from USA Today and the New York Times were asking Tech players questions about giving up their cell phones, they asked each player on the dais which way they voted when the team decided to give them up. Iman Shumpert said he voted yes, to give them up, D’Andre Bell same thing, Lawal said he voted yes and then: “Nobody calls me anyway.”
Um, yeah, right, Gani. So I asked him about that later in the locker room. C’mon. Well, it seems the reason is because a lot of folks don’t have his number. OK, fine. But what about his girlfriend? He said she’s an architecture major; she’s got a lot going on. OK, I can buy that. Players are able to use their families’ cell phones here and there. But it seems like it’s been a good move all-around.
The guys seem loose and relaxed and in a good place, how you’d want them to be the day before the first round of the NCAA tournament, I think.
Former McDonald’s teammates?
Neither Oklahoma State’s James Anderson nor Gani Lawal could remember if the two of them were teammates in the 2007 McDonald’s America game. How bizarre is that?
When I asked Anderson if he and Gani were teammates, he said: “I think he was I want to say he was on the other team. I don’t know for sure. But he was a pretty cool guy and a friendly guy.”
Yeah, hey, that part sounds like Gani for sure, so he’s got the right guy, but Anderson got some kidding from his coach who overhead him say that. You could hear Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford passing Anderson behind the curtain in the press conference area, saying: “Way to know who your teammates are. You’re a great teammate. That’s good.”
But then I asked Gani about it in Tech’s press conference, and he couldn’t remember either. I guess maybe when you spend a few days together and the final score in the game is 114-112, and ahem, not a lot of defense is played, who the heck knows.
We do though. We looked it up. Anderson scored five points in that game but his West team won. Lawal got the better of it individually though with 12 points and 12 rebounds in 18 minutes. So there you have it.
And while we were looking it up, have a look at some of the guys on those rosters: Michael Beasley, Kevin Love, Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, OJ Mayo, Kyle Singler, etc.
Pilgrim on Favors
So apparently Oklahoma State’s 6-8 center Matt Pilgrim has heard his fair share about how great Derrick Favors is, and it’s on his nerves, judging by his reaction in the press conference today anyway.
“The media did their own scouting report for me, for the most part, telling me all about him,” he said when asked about facing Favors.
So I came back with, well what did the media say?
“You all know what it is, going straight to the league,” Pilgrim said. “It’s kind of a motivational thing, to tell you the truth.”
Everybody figures Tech should have a big advantage inside, and Oklahoma State’s perimeter shooters will give the Yellow Jackets a tough time. So which will have the bigger impact on the game? I guess we’ll see. If the Cowboys play good denial defense and keep Tech’s guards from getting the ball inside, or if they play zone defense and make it tough to get the ball in there with all the traffic, it’ll be tough for Tech.
But Tech should have a big advantage in size inside. And the Cowboys are not very deep. They go seven or eight deep but not with a whole lot of confidence. That might be a break for Tech, which is anticipating the press and might not get it as much as it thinks.
Shumpert is playing only about an hour, he said, depending on the driver, from his home in Oak Park, Ill., just west of Chicago. He’ll have a huge group in the stands tomorrow including his mom, his dad, friends, cousins, aunts, uncles, high school coaches, high school teammates, his AAU coach, etc.
“We’ll finally have a crowd behind us,” said Shumpert, referring to the pro-North Carolina, N.C. State and Duke crowds the Yellow Jackets faced in Greensboro.
OK, time to get some grub and watch some hoop. Enjoy pressure-free NCAA tournament watching tonight because tomorrow that all changes!