Archive for December, 2012

Tech grinding over winter break

For a man who loves little more than being on the practice court with his team, Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory is about to enter his element.

With final exams complete and the spring term not starting until Jan. 7, Gregory has three weeks to hone in on his team and prepare for the ACC schedule. The Yellow Jackets will have four nonconference games over that span before the ACC opener against Miami Jan. 5, starting Monday night with Alabama State at McCamish Pavilion.

“We still need to take care of a lot of business before we worry about the ACC,” Gregory said. “But, yeah, the next three weeks is an opportunity for us to get better as a team and where we’re solely basketball.”

Gregory will split practice time between skill development sessions and full-team work. While the Jackets will play Alabama State, the Citadel Saturday, Fordham Dec. 29 and Chattanooga Jan. 2, all at home, Gregory likened the time to a training camp.

“It’s always good to have a break off …

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Radakovich visiting Tech for son’s graduation

Former Georgia Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich did not attend the opening of McCamish Pavilion Nov. 9, having been named athletic director at Clemson two weeks earlier.

He’ll finally get a look at the building whose renovation he led Saturday, when his son Christian graduates from Tech Saturday with an industrial engineering degree. Commencement exercises will be held at McCamish.

“I’ve seen it a lot with all the workers moving around, but this’ll be a good opportunity,” Radakovich said Friday.

He plans to return Feb. 14, when Clemson’s men’s basketball team will face the Yellow Jackets.

“I enjoy Georgia Tech and I enjoy it to this day,” Radakovich said. “Saturday, my son graduates from Georgia Tech. That’s going to be a special day, and Georgia Tech will always be a big part of our lives.”

Radakovich’s comments were part of an interview that will run on the blog early next week.

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

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Solomon Poole eligible to play Monday

Georgia Tech guard Solomon Poole was cleared by the NCAA eligibility center Friday. Poole, who has enrolled for the spring term after graduating from high school early, will be available to play in the Yellow Jackets’ game Monday against Alabama State at McCamish Pavilion.

Poole will join the team for his first practice Saturday. Ironically, Poole’s brother Stacey, who played one season at Kentucky and has been practicing at Tech for a year, will likely have to wait until Tech’s Dec. 22 game against the Citadel for his first game with the Jackets.

Thursday, coach Brian Gregory said that Solomon is physically ready to play at the college level, but downplayed expectations for playing time. He noted that the learning curve for a guard is steeper than it is for a forward or center.

“I think one of the big things that’s big with us right now is our team chemistry and different things like that, and I think he understands that,” Gregory said. “I think he’s willing …

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Notes: Johnson waiting on coordinator hire

1. Georgia Tech’s search for a defensive coordinator will proceed at coach Paul Johnson’s pace. For now, that means nothing is likely to happen before the Yellow Jackets play USC in the Sun Bowl Dec. 31.

“We’ll deal with that when the appropriate time comes,” Johnson said following the team’s Thursday practice. “I know people to talk to and there’ll be a process we go through and it’s going to be an important decision.”

Johnson said he thinks about the decision daily, “but I haven’t done anything yet.”

Interim defensive coordinator Charles Kelly has led the defense since Johnson fired Al Groh on Oct. 8 after a 2 1/2-year tenure that ended with the Jackets giving up 40-plus points in three consecutive games for the first time in school history.

With Kelly coordinating, the defense has had its moments, particularly shutting out Florida State in the second half of the ACC Championship game. But the Jackets also gave up 50 points to North Carolina in a …

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Solomon Poole could play Monday

Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said Thursday that early enrollee Solomon Poole could play as early as Monday for the Yellow Jackets in their game against Alabama State. His older brother Stacey, a transfer from Kentucky, may have to wait until the Dec. 22 game against the Citadel.

Gregory is waiting for both to be certified, Stacey by the school and Solomon by the NCAA. As a transfer from Kentucky, Stacey Poole must spend an entire academic year in residence at Tech before gaining eligibility to play. He arrived at the start of the 2012 spring term, and the fall term ends Saturday.

“Once the grades come in, then it’s up to compliance and the university, the institution, to certify him,” said Gregory, speaking prior to his team’s practice. “That’s why there’s that lag. Some places, you’re eligible as soon as the finals are over. Some places, you’re not eligible until second semester starts. We’re kind of in the middle.”’

With Solomon Poole, a freshman, …

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Greene no longer with team

Georgia Tech wide receiver Jeff Greene is no longer with the team, according to his high school coach. Starr’s Mill High coach Chad Phillips said he was notified over the weekend.

“We’re trying to help him get re-directed and get off the mat, find a place for him to go and proceed,” Phillips said.

Phillips said that Tech coaches had been frustrated with Greene’s effort and attitude and that they and Greene “decided it would be best to part ways.” Phillips expected Greene, a sophomore in eligibility and class standing, to attempt to transfer to continue his playing career.

“It’s a crying shame,” Phillips said. “The (coaches) bent over backwards to help him. He was on his way to getting a college degree from Georgia Institute of Technology. It’s a shame he had to be a little selfish.”

More than once, Tech coach Paul Johnson noted Greene’s size-speed combination and potential to become the Yellow Jackets’ next great receiver. Last spring, Johnson …

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Notes: Orwin Smith nears Tech record

Some notes, courtesy of the Georgia Tech sports information office.

1. A-back Orwin Smith can get into the school and ACC record books in the Sun Bowl.

Smith, who has 1,830 career rushing yards on 194 attempts for a 9.4 yards-per-carry average, will break the career yards-per-carry average with six carries to reach the minimum requirement to be considered. Roddy Jones holds the record at 7.59 ypc. He’ll break the record even if he’s stopped for no gain on all six. Smith would have to lose about 310 yards on the six carries for Jones to keep the record, although that would be a record in itself. I’d guess, though, he’d probably be benched after the second or third 50-yard loss.

The ACC requirement to be considered for single-season yards-per-carry is to average 65.0 yards per game. Smith is averaging 9.0 this season, which would be the second highest in history and second highest since Maryland’s Chet Hanulak averaged 9.78 yards per attempt in 1953. To average 65 …

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Poole enrolls early at Tech

After graduating from high school early, Georgia Tech basketball signee Solomon Poole has enrolled at the school and will be eligible to play as soon as he is cleared by the NCAA.

Poole, a point guard from Jacksonville and the younger brother of team member Stacey Poole Jr., will begin practicing Saturday.

“They’ve got their team chemistry,” Poole said. “I’m just trying to come in and help them win some games.”

Poole has plenty of work to do to learn coach Brian Gregory’s system and adapt to the college game, but his ball handling and athletic ability could give the Yellow Jackets a boost. Poole would likely compete with Pierre Jordan for minutes behind starting point guard Mfon Udofia. Two recruiting services rate him the No. 37 prospect in the senior class.

“I know Solomon is ready to help this team in any way he can, and in any role possible,” Gregory said in a statement. “While this is great for our program currently, it will also accelerate …

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Tech notes: When Shaq met Shaq

Quarterback, guard, center. Photo courtesy of Georgia Tech sports information office

Quarterback, guard, center. Photo courtesy of Georgia Tech sports information office

1. Last Thursday, the Turner Sports studios just north of Georgia Tech’s campus were a veritable Shaq-tropolis. Tech guard Shaquille Mason, along with quarterback Vad Lee, ventured to the set of TNT’s Inside the NBA to meet Mason’s namesake, Shaquille O’Neal, along with Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson. Coincidentally, Barkley has also made time for Tech athletes, having spoken to the women’s basketball team earlier this year.

“It was amazing,” Mason said. “It was a great experience.”

The meeting was set up through Tech’s sports information office. Mason, whose mother Alicia McGuire named him after O’Neal, took with him an XXXL Tech jersey with O’Neal’s No. 32 and “Shaq” on the name plate.

“We talked about football a little bit,” he said. “Really just having a regular conversation like I knew him for awhile.”

O’Neal gave Mason his number and told …

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After clutch catch, Waller’s confidence expands

The final play of Georgia Tech’s final drive against Florida State in the ACC Championship game likely caused most people to forget the seven plays that preceded it.

However, in those seven plays was a drive-extending catch by Tech wide receiver Darren Waller that may prove to be of value in years to come.

“Knowing (Tevin Washington) can trust me, that’s a great feeling,” Waller said. “Coming a long way, not even starting at the beginning of the year, just trying to fight for opportunities.”

To refresh your memory, Tech took over on its own 15-yard line with 2:17 after Jemea Thomas’ phenomenal interception, down 21-15. On a 3rd-and-14 from the 11, Washington was flushed out of the pocket and rolled right and found Waller by the sideline for a 17-yard gain.

Waller had had only seven career catches prior to that. The biggest were a 63-yard reception from Vad Lee against North Carolina and a 42-yarder earlier in the title game, also from Lee. Both, interestingly, …

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