The Washington Post
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| ||At 6 feet 3, 202 pounds, Jarrett Jack is tough to defend and creates a matchup problem for opponents with smaller point guards. (AP) |
Thursday, March 10, 2005; Page G11
How They Could Win It All
After a mediocre regular season -- since Jan. 22, Georgia Tech has not won or lost two games in a row -- the Yellow Jackets want to prove they're still the team that advanced to the national championship game last season. Personnel-wise, they mostly are.
They've got one of the country's best back courts in Will Bynum, Jarrett Jack and B.J. Elder. Bynum and Jack can penetrate and create their own shots; Elder is a lethal perimeter shooter when he is healthy (the hamstring injury that forced him to miss more than a month is partly responsible for Tech's uneven performance).
Jack and Elder are tall and create matchup problems for opponents. Forward Ismail Muhammad is strong and is the team's best defender, and center Luke Schenscher is 7 feet 1.
Tech has a young but athletic bench, with sophomore Mario West and freshmen RaSean Dickey, Jeremis Smith and Anthony Morrow providing quality minutes at times. Coach Paul Hewitt is one of the best in the country and his team will be motivated as it fights for a bid to the NCAA tournament.
If the Yellow Jackets can find the magic they had last March, they will be a tough team to beat again.
How They Could Lose It All
Whether it was lack of chemistry or injuries, Georgia Tech just wasn't the same team this season. B.J. Elder has returned from his hamstring injury but has struggled to regain his shooting touch. With Elder on the bench, Will Bynum and Jarrett Jack were forced to carry more of the offensive load than they could handle. Elder has to get hot from the perimeter, or opponents will sag their defense to prevent Bynum and Jack from driving to the basket.
Luke Schenscher, the 7-footer who in last year's NCAA tournament gave the Yellow Jackets an inside weapon few teams could match, has been unable to find the same consistency and wilts against stronger front-court players. The native of Australia weighs just 250 pounds and gets pushed around by stout front-court players such as North Carolina's Sean May and Duke's Shelden Williams.
Ismail Muhammad's dunks are regular highlights, but he can't shoot from the perimeter and is worse at the foul line.
The Yellow Jackets like to run up and down the court, but they're sometimes careless with the basketball, ranking next-to-last in the league in turnover margin in conference games.
Junior Jarrett Jack is one of the league's best players, but Yellow Jackets Coach Paul Hewitt says Jack doesn't get the respect he deserves from the people who matter most: officials. Jack is as good as any of Tech's great point guards of the past, including Kenny Anderson, Travis Best, Stephon Marbury and Mark Price.
Few players in college basketball have as much ability as Jack in penetrating a defense and finishing plays. At 6 feet 3, 202 pounds, Jack is tough to defend, creates a matchup problem for opponents with smaller point guards and is adept at rebounding.
The Fort Washington native can take over games offensively (he scored 29 points in Tech's 79-71 overtime victory over Kansas in a regional final of last season's NCAA tournament) and can lock down great players defensively (he helped hold Oklahoma State's John Lucas III to 11 points on 4-for-14 shooting with two assists and two turnovers in last season's NCAA semifinal).
Because of injuries to B.J. Elder and the inconsistent play of Luke Schenscher, Jack has taken on more of a scoring load this season and has played out of control at times.
One Shining ACC Moment
The Yellow Jackets won the ACC tournament three times under former coach Bobby Cremins. While the 1989-90 team, which featured the "Lethal Weapon 3" trio of Kenny Anderson, Brian Oliver and Dennis Scott, used the ACC tournament title as a springboard to the Final Four, the 1992-93 squad was the Yellow Jackets' most unlikely champion.
With Georgia Tech's NCAA tournament hopes slim at best, and Cremins on the hot seat after a mediocre 16-10 record during the regular season, the Yellow Jackets entered the 1993 ACC tournament in Charlotte as the No. 6 seed. But Georgia Tech upset No. 3 seed Duke, 69-66, in the quarterfinals, and then beat Clemson, 69-61, in the semifinals.
The Yellow Jackets upset top seed and No. 1-ranked North Carolina, 77-75, in the championship game, with forward James Forrest scoring 27 points. The Tar Heels, playing without injured point guard Derrick Phelps, committed 15 turnovers and shot just 39.4 percent. Forrest scored 80 points in the tournament, becoming the first player since 1976 to score 20 points or more in three games, and was named the tournament's most valuable player.
Freshman guard Drew Barry broke the ACC tournament record with 27 assists in three games combined. The Yellow Jackets couldn't sustain their momentum in the NCAA tournament, however; they were upset by Southern University, 93-78, in the first round.
ACC Tournament Section
• After 15 years, the Nation's Capital plays host to country's premier conference tournament.
• John Feinstein: In a glut of tournaments, this one still matters.
• Tournament info and records
• Bracket and schedule
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