Georgia Tech guard B.J. Elder likely won't be healthy enough to play against Maryland on Sunday, Yellow Jackets Coach Paul Hewitt said yesterday.
Hewitt said Elder will not play Thursday against Wake Forest and probably will be out at least two more weeks. Elder, the team's second-leading scorer, has a severe hamstring injury that has kept him out of the past five games. "I don't want to put a number on it, though," Hewitt said. "He's out indefinitely."
Georgia Tech returned four starters from the team that reached the national title game last season, but the Yellow Jackets (11-5, 2-3 ACC) haven't been the same without the 6-foot-4 senior. Elder practiced Thursday but had a relapse, prompting Hewitt to insist that Elder "shut it down" until fully healed. Three straight losses have dropped Georgia Tech to the congested middle of the ACC standings. In addition to a loss at North Carolina, the Yellow Jackets lost to what had been a struggling North Carolina State team and at home against conference newcomer Virginia Tech.
"We've had enough personnel to win some of the games we lost," Hewitt said.
Hewitt's frustration over the 70-69 loss to Virginia Tech on Saturday diminished slightly after he saw positive signs on the game tape. But he acknowledged that center Luke Schenscher is "capable of better" after scoring four points in 19 minutes against the Hokies. The coaching staff also has encouraged point guard Jarrett Jack to attack the basket more because opponents have keyed on him around the perimeter. Will Bynum, meanwhile, had a great game against Tech and seems re-energized. Bynum, who matched his season-high 28 points against the Hokies, did not practice for three days last week because Hewitt felt he had tired legs after engaging in a comprehensive offseason weight and conditioning program.
Hokies Up, 'Canes Down
After strong starts, the conference's two new teams, Miami and Virginia Tech, appear headed in opposite directions.
The Hokies (10-6, 3-2) are fourth in the conference after winning three ACC games by a total of four points. To earn an NCAA tournament berth, Tech will need to post a particularly strong conference record because its Ratings Percentage Index, which is used to weigh a team's strength, is 162, the worst of any ACC team.
Coach Seth Greenberg maintained that the Hokies are not close to being as good as they need to be. "We took some plays off," against Georgia Tech, he said. "And we didn't contest shots at times. We need to develop an understanding of competing consistently. But I think we are developing a winning attitude."
The Hurricanes, after starting the conference season with a 3-1 record, received a dose of reality last week when they lost to Duke and North Carolina, two of the nation's elite programs.
"The expectations were riding high based on how we did to start," Miami Coach Frank Haith said of the beginning of the conference season. "The margin for error in those games [against Duke and North Carolina] is very small. You've got to come up with loose balls and not miss layups."
Miami generates its offense almost exclusively through its three guards. But Duke clamped down on Miami's perimeter players early on, forcing the Hurricanes' front-court players to carry the offense, which they couldn't.
Terps Have 'Test' Ahead
Maryland Coach Gary Williams said the next two games against Duke and Georgia Tech, teams that reached last season's Final Four, "will be a test of character" after a 16-point loss to North Carolina State on Sunday, the Terps' third blowout defeat this month. Yesterday morning, Williams said he was looking forward to practice later in the afternoon to gauge players' mind-sets heading into Wednesday's game at second-ranked and undefeated Duke. "If they are not really into it," Williams said, "I have to get them into it. That's my job." . . .
North Carolina State's Tony Bethel, the Georgetown transfer, played only two minutes against Maryland on Sunday as he continues to recover from a bacterial infection. Coach Herb Sendek said he would bring Bethel along slowly and there is no timetable regarding when he will be able to fully contribute.