Last Year: Tech was 11-17, and 4-12 in the ACC, and was rather happy to be there. The Yellow Jackets lost their top six players the year before, a situation UNC fans are familiar with, if thankfully not the effects. The lack of experience showed - Tech players turned the balll over an average of one every four possessions, worst in the ACC. They also sent their opponents to the line just shy of once every two times down the court, also the conference's worst showing. The question is, will they improve?
Comings and Goings: So the advantage to losing six players a year is that the next year there's not really anyone left to leave. So with the exception of Theodis Tarver (3.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg), a backup center, and Zam Fredrick (10.6 ppg, 3.9apg) who transfered in the face of the incoming recruiting class, everyone's back for another shot. Last year's starting five was Ra'Sean Dickey (13.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and Jeremis Smith (11.0 ppg, 8.2 rpg) in the frontcourt, and a trio of guards from the set of Anthony Morrow (16.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg), Lewis Clinch (8.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg), Mario West (5.2 ppg, 2.7 apg) and the aforemention Fredrick.
Did you get all of those names? Because only Smith and Clinch are starting this year. The other three slots are filled by Tech's freshman class, where much of the excitement about this season is coming from. Leading the group is Javaris Critterdon a phenomenal point guard, and Thaddeus Young at power forward. The third member of this group is Zach Peacock, also playing in the frontcourt and the three have five games scoring in double figures between the two opponents they've played to date. (Peacock only managed 9 in the game against Elon. Hope he ran laps for that.) The Yellow Jacket season rests on whether these three can live up to the immense hype being generated around them. You can also look for Mouhammad Faye to get some time at small forward, one of the thinner spots on the suddenly deep team.
The Outlook: Can you really judge this team when the majority of its rotation is setting foot on the college court for the first time this season? They could be jockeying for the conference title, they could be stranded back where they were last year. The schedule works to their advantage, but there's something to be said for experience once the opposition gets above the Elon College stage.
Preseason Poll Finish: 4th, a little ambitious for a frehman-laden team.
- Carolina March Forecast: 7-9 in the ACC, a first round loss in the NCAA's.