As has become our tradition whenever UNC hooks up with Georgia Tech, we have participated in a Q&A with the fine Tech blog From the Rumble Seat. Their answers to our questions are below; our answers to their questions can be found here.
THF: How are Tech fans feeling about the Brian Gregory era so far? Do they think this is an upgrade from Paul Hewitt, and what are the thoughts on the potential for long-term success in Atlanta?
FTRS: This is the mulligan season. Tech fans knew we were in a for a rough season when roughly 47% of our minutes left due to graduation, NBA defection, or transfer right when Paul Hewitt was fired. Tech has struggled to replace guards and the departure of Iman Shumpert really put a gaping a hole in the lineup that Glen Rice, Jr. has worked hard to fill this season.
I think Gregory has the potential to succeed. He has won a few games on coaching (e.g. first win in Athens in 13 tries and victory at NC State). It's just really hard to evaluate the guy when he's working with such a bare cupboard. I don't think GT is in nearly the state of Wake Forest or BC as a program. Gregory is about to be handed the keys to a brand new stadium and he's already proven that no matter who the head coach in Atlanta is top recruits always seem to fall in to your lap. I think the question Tech fans will ask of Gregory is whether or not he will be able to build a program with the shadow of the NBA always hanging over Tech's star players.
UNC has a much better time recruiting depth and replacements. Tech has to rebound when Thaddeus Youngs and Derrick Favors eat up the entire recruiting budget and then jump ship. So that's the question, we've got. Will Gregory be able to pair his better ingame coaching with NBA defections? And that's something time will tell us.
THF: With the exception of the loss to UVA, GT has at least been competitive in league play despite a 1-5 record. What is it going to take for the Jackets to start posting some wins?
FTRS: I don't really see Tech winning many more games outside of Wake and BC. The talent is not there and our team has not responded well to the lack of a homecourt. To me, there is a clear stratification of teams in the ACC this season. There are possibly 2 to 4 big guns, some middlers, and then GT, Wake, and BC. So, if Tech sneaks out 5 wins in ACC play, I'd be VERY VERY happy.
THF: The last time Tech visited the Triangle 2 1/2 weeks ago, the Jackets hung 82 points and drilled a much improved NC State team. Since then, Tech has struggled to reach even 50 points in a game. What happened?
FTRS: We just don't have a lot of offensive firepower. Glen Rice, Jr. is the only really refined offensive weapon on Tech's squad. Mfon Udofia is a somewhat erratic, turnover prone guard while Brandon Reed and Jason Morris are just too green. The length of a college season is starting to wear on Tech's young guys and it's really showing up in the box scores.
THF: Along those lines, during this 4 game slide, GT has been outscored 128-77 in the first half, but only 131-122 in the second half. Why the slow starts?
FTRS: The offense is really hanging its hat on Glen Rice, Jr.. In the last four games, GRJ is averaging 2.3 points in the first half and 9 points in the second half. He has an eFG% of 0.25 in the first half and 0.52 in the second. His slow starts in the first half close down Georgia Tech's offense. If his shots aren't dropping, the psyche of the team is not strong enough to respond in a positive manner. It's pretty much chaos when he's off his game in the first half as you indicated (19.3 points per first half!!?!?!). If Tech can get GRJ hot in the first half, it has a shot against lower tier ACC competition but when he's off, Tech is cooked.
THF: We are nearly 1/3 of the way through the conference season. What's your assessment of the league so far? Any surprises? Disappointments?
FTRS: UVA is a fairly big surprise. I thought they had gone the way of the dodo when Leitao failed out of Hooville. Bennett is doing a great job up there.
My only real disappointment was the ACC-B1G Challenge thus far. I really want the ACC to restore some credibility to its name. We always do well in the NCAA Tournament but it seems like more talking heads are putting faith in to the regular season. I think this is being reflected in underrated seedings leading to ACC NCAA tournament success. In short, I'd rather ACC teams go in to the tournament overrated than underrated because being overrated = higher tourney seeds and a better shot the national title.
THF: Any predictions for Sunday night? And for the rest of GT's season?
FTRS: Tech shouldn't be within 10 at the half against the Tar Heels. I'll say UNC 85-GT 60. GT will defeat BC, NC State, and Wake in an incredibly mediocre three game win streak only to lose the rest of the way out. I'm hoping for a 10 or 11 seed in the ACC Tournament (not the 12th seed). go jackets.
Thanks again to Bird and the guys at From the Rumble Seat. Enjoy the game!