If Shumpert gets the point, Jackets have a chance

If Iman Shumpert is on his game, said Paul Hewitt, Tech will be hard to beat. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

If Iman Shumpert is on his game, said Paul Hewitt, Tech will be hard to beat. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

In 1990, when Georgia Tech went to the Final Four, Kenny Anderson was the MVP of the Southeast Regional. He was a point guard.

In 2004, when Georgia Tech went to the Final Four, Jarrett Jack was the MVP of the Midwest Regional. He was a point guard.

Some things in sports are aberrations. This isn’t one of them.

College basketball teams – even front-line dominated ones like Georgia Tech – go as their point guards go in the NCAA tournament. It’s why the Jackets could very well be on their way to a memorable run. Or a quick exit.

Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal are expected to be first-round NBA draft picks this summer. But Iman Shumpert might have more to do with how far the Jackets go in the tournament than his two more famous teammates.

Iman Shumpert's defense was a key during the ACC tournament. (AP photo)

Iman Shumpert's defense was a key during the ACC tournament. (AP photo)

“Regardless of what everybody else is doing,” Tech coach Paul Hewitt said Tuesday, “if Iman is on his game, we’re really, really good. If he’s getting 15 [points] and six [rebounds] and only one or two turnovers, we’re really hard to beat.”

Shumpert had two steals late in the ACC quarter-finals against Maryland to seal a win. He had a steal late against North Carolina State to send the Jackets into the finals. The issue is at the other end of the court. Shumpert had five turnovers in the N.C. State game and this season’s assist-to-turnover ratio of 111-to-87 doesn’t tilt to the left quite as much as a head coach would like.

Even Shumpert smiled when he admitted, “I’ve always been a chance-taker. If it’s there, it’s there. If it works, it works. If they talk about you, they talk about you.”

Ah, nothing quite like the care-free attitude of a 19-year-old, is there?

When asked what Hewitt thinks of his risk-taking, Shumpert said: “He talks to me about it. He doesn’t like it too much.”

Hewitt laughed when told how Shumpert described his style.

“A risk-taker — that’s a good way of putting it,” he said. “Iman likes to experiment with things. I tell him: ‘You can’t do that.’ He’s big on the one-hand passes. He threw a no-look pass out of bounds against Duke the other day, and I thought I was going to strangle him. It whizzed by Zack [Peacock] so fast that if it hit him in the face it probably would’ve knocked him out.”

When Hewitt was asked if he believed Shumpert realized how important his play was to the team’s success, he said: “That’s a good question. I’m not really sure.

“I know [past Tech] point guards will call me, like Jarrett, and he’ll say, ‘Will you tell Iman to stop doing that.’ I have a lot of confidence in him. But he hasn’t quite put it all together yet. It’ll come. But he just goes through those rashes of irrational thinking.”

Motivation won’t be a problem this week. Friday’s game against Oklahoma State will be Shumpert’s first NCAA tournament game. It’s also being played in Milwaukee, a 40-minute drive from his hometown in suburban Chicago.

“It’s going to be fun,” he said. “The tournament is something I watched growing up. I always dreamed of making the big play, getting the loose ball, with all of the emotion and the fans screaming. I’m looking forward to it.”

He was told of past tournament runs by Tech, with Anderson and Jack leading the way. Does he think about stuff like that?

“Not really,” Shumpert said. “There’ s a lot of great guards in this tournament so I’m sure it’s going to become a factor. But we’re a team that doesn’t really go off one person [playing well] or not. Whoever does it does it. I don’t focus on: if I have a good game, we’ll have good game.”

He might want to check with his head coach.

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and on Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

53 comments Add your comment

Delbert D.

March 16th, 2010
6:36 pm

Brian Oliver (of the Lethal Weapons Three) was better in his one year at point guard than anybody on the Tech team the last 2 years.

The ACC

March 16th, 2010
6:57 pm

Even when Shumpert has played terribly, we have won. The other guards have stepped up at times, especially Mo Miller. There is just no telling with this bunch who will show up. Watch if you dare, no matter what happens Friday, it will be entertaining!

ben

March 16th, 2010
6:58 pm

I thought that interview with Hewitt says it all. Shumpert has continuously turned the ball over and taken ill-advised shots since he got here. That’s not something you want out of a point guard. Anyone else would have recognized that Shumpert is a Reggie Theus type 2-guard that you leave in the game when he’s hot and sit his ass down when he’s not. But, because he’s a tremendous athlete, Hewitt chooses to play him in hopes that he will “figure it out”. Few other coaches would put up with his “risk taking” at the point. I’ve tried to support and defend Hewitt over the years, but after watching this year’s failings, I just can’t do it anymore.

Resign or Resign?

March 16th, 2010
7:04 pm

Delbert D.:

Agree! Shumpert needs to grow up fast! Does he not listen to Hewitt, or even what Jack says to Hewitt?

wesleywhatwhat

March 16th, 2010
7:17 pm

collegeballfan

March 16th, 2010
7:19 pm

Shumpert and Miller need to start at guard. Bell is OK coming off the bench but not starting. Hewitt has been rotating 9 players and they have looked pretty good.

Greg

March 16th, 2010
7:30 pm

Chump thinks he is kobe and can just dribble around and shoot some wild shot and it will go in. Only late in the games does he do what he should be doing 90% of the time and that’s driving to the basket when it’s open and either shoot or pass to lawal or favors or kick it out to an open 3 shooter. All he does is run around, catch the ball pass or take some ugly shot. And no more 3 point shots when lawal and favors haven’t even made it to the paint yet.

Greg

March 16th, 2010
7:43 pm

I should say late in the games meaning less than a minute when we are down by 4 or more.

Blue Fox

March 16th, 2010
8:11 pm

Shumpert is a classic 2-guard, not a natural point guard in the vein of Kenny Anderson, Jarrett Jack, etc. For all his faults, Mo Miller is a better pure point guard in taking care of the ball, hitting the open man, dribbling the ball under pressure, etc.

Paul in RDU

March 16th, 2010
8:19 pm

Jeff – Agree with your column. College b’ball is a guard dominated sport and GT needs good play from the point (Shump or Mo) to advance in the NCAA.
On a more important topic – what happened to The Count today? Hopefully he is developing the photos he took of Miss Judd at the SEC tourney.

ASHEVILLE DAWG

March 16th, 2010
9:30 pm

With his attitude and Hewitt’s coaching, can you say one and done.

Biff Pocoroba

March 16th, 2010
10:06 pm

Hewitt just took his first time out.

Crump

March 16th, 2010
10:07 pm

Well, at least Shumpert will be a senior one day, that is if he doesn’t take risks with the books like he does with the ball.

Michael

March 16th, 2010
10:23 pm

It’s really simple. If Tech meets or exceeds its season average in turnovers (something like 16 per game) they will lose. If they can keep turnnovers under that (10-14 or less preferred) they have a good shot at winning and keep winning. The trouble is, Tech hasn’t been able to do that in consecutive games alll year as best I can tell. So if not none and done, it will be one (win) and done UNLESS a miracle happens and Hewitts coaching improves 10 fold in a few days leading up to the NCAA start or Tech players simply stop playing out of control every other time down the court, feed the post at least once each and EVERY trip down, and limit dumb (and mostly unforced) turnovers.

Bubba2

March 16th, 2010
10:26 pm

Its all coaching. Imagine what the score would be if Coach K had Tech’s players and Hewitt had Dukes. I would say that Coach K would win by 30! Tech has the most talent in the ACC. Why players like Favors come to Tech, when they could go to any school they choose, I do not understand. Tech is my favorite bb school. Its hard to watch this.

BleedWhiteNGold

March 16th, 2010
11:43 pm

I’d have to say the real suprise lately has been Mo Miller. Last year I cringed every time he shot a 3 pt shot because he could have built a house throwing up all those bricks. I’m pretty sure he was in the low 20% from 3 last year. Although lately he has been shooting lights out from 3 pt land which makes me question him sitting on the bench 90% of the season, he seems to be the most comfortable at the point by far, I would like to see the starting line up for tech as
PG – Mo M.
SG – Iman
SF – Peacock
PF – Lawal
C – Favors

stick with that and see where it goes, most comfortable lineup for all the players, with Iman not having to run the point he can do a lot more slashing to the basket off of screens and catch and shoot off the drive, then you have 3 very good offensive/defensive rebounders in there at one time.

and for gods sake stop wasting time outs after every basket made…jesus..how do you expect us to build momentum or players to get into a groove if you call a timeout after every basket…we run out of timeouts with 3-5 mins left in the game..its pathetic..

Mark

March 16th, 2010
11:51 pm

One thing NOONE takes into consideration is that Tech has faced the best defenses in college basketball in the ACC, especailly in guard play. Granted, Tech does not play well from half court, looks completely lost at times, but won’t see anything the ACC throws up this side of the big east defensivly. What will kill tech is: Free throw shooting, inability to hit a timely three and absolute loss of focus when in the lead, much less playing from behind. These three swords kill this team, IMHO.

Mark

March 16th, 2010
11:57 pm

Bubba2

There is absolutely no equal to the shot Scheyer made… it was legendary…and it deserves it’s place in ACC history. Know what?… as an old dog, and knowing this league for a long time, I tip my hat…and was damn glad to be there to lose that game… Tech gave it’s best showing since 2004…even coach K said it was the best game Duke had played all year.

Mark

March 16th, 2010
11:59 pm

Michael Best observation on this blog…kudos

BoroBee

March 17th, 2010
12:02 am

Asheville Dawg – good luck to UGA in their first round NCAA match-up against… :(

AlabamaRamblinwreck

March 17th, 2010
12:43 am

Awesome insight. A lot of things make sense now. If the coach cannot by now “demand” that these things not happen and expect it to be so, then he has no control over these guys. He is a “players” coach. That is sad. It is what I thought, but I wasn’t sure, but this write-up makes me pretty confident that these guys do what they want when they want, and they do not care about the consequences. (running the bleachers until your legs fall off would be one example of consequences that a real coach might employ)

Ron

March 17th, 2010
12:43 am

A team that is athletic and talented but not well coached does better with more game time. I suspect after a weeek off Fridays game will bring back memories of the UNLV game a few years ago or that wonderful Southern game a decade or so ago.

GTater

March 17th, 2010
12:43 am

Why Miller hasn’t been starting bewhilders me. To be honest, I think our best lineup is Mo, Shump, Oliver, Gani, and Favors. Paul Hewitt needs to realize that you are supposed to start your best players!
With Udofia, Rice, Bell, and Peacock rotating in off the bench, you can give opponents different looks, but your best lineup will put games away from the beginning until the end.
Shump cannot run the offense as well as Mo and Udofia and Rice should NOT be starting. They bring energy, but not very good decision making.

AlabamaRamblinwreck

March 17th, 2010
12:49 am

Example of a mistake: dribbling the ball off your foot while driving to the basket.
Example of a brain-poop: Making a high risk, low reward alley oop pass
Example of a mistake: not getting yourself fully set to take a charge
Example of a brain-poop: Making no attempt to block out your man for the defensive rebound
Example of a mistake: Missing a free-throw or any open shot
Example of a brain-poop: Having Favors and Lawal on the inside, and not giving them a chance with the ball on a possession.

There are plenty more. Players should not be punished for mistakes, but they must be held accountable for “brain-poops”. You will notice that Coach K’s players very seldom make brain-poops, or for that matter, do many of Rick Pitino’s or John Calipari’s players.

i would like to see some fact nerd compare

March 17th, 2010
1:09 am

assists an turnovers year by year … the bobby cremins years vs the phew years.

i dont know about you but phew’s comment about ME-MAN not understanding his importance to the team an winning tells it all. as i see it… paul is all about getting his players into the nba not winning. that is what happens when you put individual instruction over the importance of team play.

teams that are unfamiliar with one another make a lot of turnovers until the learn their team mates habits etc. we never will get to that point because phew in a nut shell is not about team.

imo it is more important for phew to turn ME-MAN into a point guard that will get drafted in the nba than the team and winning.

if i was coach. ME-MAN would be my off guard and mo would be the pg. as soon as i saw any out of control behavior from ME-MAN i would sit him on the bench . is it any wonder that ME-MAN plays out of control? phew allows it.

Mike

March 17th, 2010
2:08 am

This is a sad but true story. This kid is a very good but totally undisciplined talent who cannot or WILL NOT play team basketball. When Tech’s best athletes have a tremendous game, occasionally, they can win. Party time is over now. There are no cupcakes left to screw up against and win anyway. Certainly not OK State or OSU. I sadly predict this will be ugly, and over early. Since when does a cocky 19 year old kid tell you how he’s gonna play? Sad, and another wasted year.

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Born2Buzz

March 17th, 2010
5:35 am

I called this back in February. Shumpert has the talent to be a superstar PG the likes of a Steve Nash, just not the brain power. Unfortunately he may never get the point, and if he does it is likely to be 3 years into a pro career. He is very much like Javaris Crit and look where he is now. At least Shump is likely to stay another year in college, which Crit should have done.

JustaThought

March 17th, 2010
6:54 am

It seems a bit late now, but I think CPH should have benched this guy earlier in the season and gotten his attention, but now at this point in the game he has no choice but to play him. And yes clearly a bad move on CPH part.

Pecan Tan

March 17th, 2010
6:56 am

So who has the worst coach, GT or UNC? UNC has all these McDonald’s All-Americans and yet they are at the bottom of the ACC….in a down year. They got beat by GT three times this year. Does that mean Roy Williams can’t coach? Or does it mean his players can’t shoot, pass, rebound, block out, or just make bad decisions most of the time? We all know Roy can coach. He has the hardware to prove it. So what is the problem at UNC? Is it similar to GT? Did Hewitt get more out of his players than Williams got out of all those McDonalds All-Americans? Do you think UNC fans are hating on Roy like some GT fans are hating on Paul?

JustaThought

March 17th, 2010
6:58 am

Once this young guy understands and respects his abilities and his limitations he’ll be a much better player…….but until then you get what you get (unpredictible and spracdic play).

JustaThought

March 17th, 2010
7:02 am

Just cause they McDonald’s AA’s don’t mean crap, but also remember Roy is sitting on a championship or two my friend.

JustaThought

March 17th, 2010
7:06 am

If you don’t think UNC fans bitch and moan when there team isn’t winning…..ask the 2 other jacks that coached them between Roy and Dean. Better yet ask Coach K how much bitching and moaning he heard when he was out a few years back on medical leave.

ramblingbuzz

March 17th, 2010
7:34 am

Shumpert’s style of play just doesn’t fit a point guard. Put Miller at point and leave him there with Shumpert at the 2 guard spot. Miller could be a decent PG if Hewitt wouldn’t pull him out every time he makes a mistake. You saw flashes of what Miller can do in the ACC tournament. He would be a 100 times better if he knew he was the starting PG and could gain some confidence.

reebok

March 17th, 2010
7:45 am

So Hewitt gives instruction, and his players just do whatever they want, huh? Awesome. Way to lead, “Coach.”

justahawkfan

March 17th, 2010
8:10 am

WRITING ON BLOGS MAKE US ALL SOUND LIKE GENUISES. GIVING YOU OPINION IS VERY EASY BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR WHETHER YOU ARE WRONG OR RIGHT. YOU CAN SPEW HATE ANYTIME YOU WANT, NO MATTER IF ITS TRUE OF FALSE. THE YELLOW JACKETS AND THIER COACH HAS JUST MADE A TURN FOR THE BETTER IN THE ACC TOURNAMENT. THEY WON THREE HARD FOUGHT GAMES AND ALMOST WAS CROWNED CHAMPS. THEY ARE 10TH SEED INTHE NCAA DANCE AND ALL YOU CAN DO IS COMPLAIN AND COMPARE HEWIIT TO COACH K. IF K IS THAT GREAT HE SHOULD HAVE NO TROUBLE TAKING HIS DEMOGRAPHICLY CORRECT TEAM TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME!! WE ALL KNOW THAT NOT GOING TO HAPEN. WHAT YOU GONNA SAY IF TECH ADVANCE FURHTER IN FIELD THAN THE GREAT DUKE? IT LUCK RIGHT!

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 17th, 2010
8:35 am

I have tech in my sweet 16 but they are a ball handler away from the final four . I will be held accountable for my bracket also if i finish last again in the pool I will never here the end of it.

Angus

March 17th, 2010
8:37 am

That 15 points, 6 rebounds, 2 turnover quote is odd – Shump hasn’t done that once this entire season.

Maybe CPH meant 6 assists. Shump’s done 15 pts, 6 asts, 2 tos twice this year and both times Tech lost.

Buzz

March 17th, 2010
8:38 am

Just minutes ago on Mike and Mike>>>> “Georgia Tech has one of the most talented teams in the WHOLE NCAA, but will lose to Okla st., due to turnovers (5th in nation!!) inbounding the ball and not being able to handle a press. Why don’t they just say we don’t have a competent COACH!!!! Okla st. love to press and play a zone, we are in trouble!!! I will be cheering on the players, but not our awful coach!!!

Buzz

March 17th, 2010
8:39 am

I meany incompetent!!! SORRY!!! LOL!!

VT Yellow Jacket

March 17th, 2010
8:40 am

PH might want to stop talking to the media. Not because they treat him badly, but because everything he says makes it more obvious that he is not doing his job.

“I tell him: ‘You can’t do that.’ He’s big on the one-hand passes. He threw a no-look pass out of bounds against Duke the other day, and I thought I was going to strangle him.” Yet the kid still starts.

“When Hewitt was asked if he believed Shumpert realized how important his play was to the team’s success, he said: ‘That’s a good question. I’m not really sure.’” Are you f#@%ing kidding me???

Oh, I wash I had $7.1 million to throw away.

AugustaFan

March 17th, 2010
9:11 am

Would love to see Bobby Knight have this GT team for a week.

Buzz

March 17th, 2010
9:28 am

I SECOND that AugustaFan!!!!

Paul Johnson's Johnson

March 17th, 2010
11:00 am

Paul Hewitt just took his last time out…..

Helluva Engineer

March 17th, 2010
2:11 pm

‘When Hewitt was asked if he believed Shumpert realized how important his play was to the team’s success, he said: “That’s a good question. I’m not really sure.’

YOU’RE NOT SURE?!?! I hate to rail on Hewitt but c’mon, that message should have been sent special delivery before the first @#$%^&* practice of the season! If you don’t know the importance of a point guard in college hoops, especially at this school, you can not be much of a coach.

Tech

March 17th, 2010
2:33 pm

Mfon Udofia is the real PG for tech..if you noticed in the begining of the season he led this team while Shumpert was hurt, averaging 12 points a game 2 turnovers and 4 assist. When Shumpert came back, he was upset that Udofia had taken his shine so demanded that he play the PG and therefore Hewitt who clearly lets Iman have his way, did just that. He moved Udofia to the 2 guard, which is not his position and put Shumpert @ the 1, which was a total fail. In 2 seasons Iman has not made any progress, he is the same player he came to Tech as, why Hewitt wont make him play the 2 guard i don’t know. Udofia minutes and confidence slid after Hewitt totally kiicked him to the side for Shumpert. Shumpert is a good player dont’ get me wrong but Hewitt should make him play the 2 guard and the team would be more productive. Moe has done good as of late but is not a great player he is just playing well as of now, and even while playing well he has had nearly 5 TO a game. Hewitt just needs to figure it out and stop letting Iman run him! Mfon Udofia is the PG of GT future. I just hope he doesnt leave because of Hewitt letting Iman run all over him

Who's the PG

March 17th, 2010
4:03 pm

Tech – I didn’t want to be the one to say it, err. repeat it, but at least one other person here agrees with you. I was hoping that the AJC reporters would have pressed this issue a bit more with Hewitt – e.g. why did you move Shump to the point when Mfon was playing well as the #1 PG, freshman mistakes aside. Notice Mfon had 1 minute against Duke in the ACC championship. How many other NCAA tournament teams have relegated their starting PG and leading scoring guard to the bench by end of season? If anyone can answer that, please do. Mfon has hit a freshman wall? I call BS.

Who's the PG

March 17th, 2010
4:23 pm

One followup – If Tech has a great post season, a big if, and if Shumpert shines, add him to the list of players leaving: Bell, Peacock, Lawal and Favors. And then add Mfon to the list of players who’ve had enough of this program as he seeks a transfer where he’ll get some respect from the coaches. A great tournament run spells doom for Tech next year when we’ll see a lot more of Sheehan, the Millers, Craig and Shew.

GT VET

March 17th, 2010
8:32 pm

Well assville dog i would say its better to be one and done than NONE and done wouldnt you?? btw catch that GT vs uga baseball score today??have a nice day

acowa

March 17th, 2010
8:38 pm

I like watching Iman…but he’s no Kenny Anderson. Kenny was the best point guard ever to play at AMC bar none. That being said, he has flashes of brilliance and he may be on par with Kenny defensively.