I’ve seen all the famous Georgia Tech point guards: Mark Price, Craig Neal, Kenny Anderson, Travis Best, Stephon Marbury and Jarrett Jack. I’ve seen all of those worthies have fabulous games. I’ve never seen any of them play better at both ends than Iman Shumpert did against Virginia Tech.
Much is being made of Shumpert’s triple double — only the fourth in recorded Tech annals and the first since Anderson against Pitt in December 1989 (I covered that game, incidentally) — but stats didn’t offer the full measure Tuesday night. Even more impressive was this: Shumpert took a very good opponent and destroyed him.
Virginia Tech’s Malcolm Delaney entered the game averaging 18.9 points. When last he played against the Jackets here, he’d scored 32 points in a game that nearly knocked Georgia Tech out of the 2010 NCAA tournament. On this night Delaney managed eight points — two on a goaltending call — against eight turnovers. Six of Delaney’s eight turnovers were a function of Shumpert steals.
I asked afterward how this defensive masterwork compared to that authored in Round 1 of the NCAA tournament against Oklahoma State’s James Anderson, the Big 12 player of the year. Shumpert said they were close, but that he’d probably pick the one in Milwaukee because “it was my first time in the tournament.”
Me, I actually preferred this one. It’s one thing to clamp down on a shooting guard, which you can do by denying him the ball; it’s something else to harass a seasoned point guard who has the ball in his hands all the time into something approaching surrender. (Four of Delaney’s turnovers, all Shumpert steals, came in the final five minutes.)
The offensive part: That was nice, too. Shumpert had 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists against one turnover. (Against Anderson and Oklahoma State he’d had only one basket and four assists.) But over time I’ve seen lots of Tech guards dominate games on offense; I’d never seen any of them play so well over the full 94 feet.
You probably knew this already, but after such a night it seems worth saying: Iman Shumpert is one heck of a player.
By Mark Bradley