Are you guys ready for the thunder? That's right...Wake Forest takes on Georgia Tech tonight! So we've turned to our good friend Bird over at From The Rumble Seat for a good old fashioned ACC Q&A (remember those!?). We've answered some of his questions as well, so stay tuned to FTRS for those.
We talk Paul Hewitt, the GT guards, predictions for tonight's game and more after the jump...
1.) What's the pulse of the GT fanbase right now?
I think the fans are excited about the individual games we play depending on the opponent but there's no real excitement about the State of the Program. Paul Hewitt doesn't have a whole lot of respect from Tech fans. I think most of it relates to his priorities: 1) recruit the best talent possible (NBA one and dones or not) 2) schedule difficult opponents 3) beat UNC 4) try to win tournaments. He has little to no emphasis on the regular season, which means we will either not make the tournament or be a low seed in the tournament every other year.
2.) The Hewitt buyout. We always hear about it, but break it down for us. Will Paul Hewitt ever be fired? What would it take?
The Paul Hewitt Contract states that the contract is always a 6 years contract because of a "rollover" clause (part 2.c). This rollover can be stopped by the GTAA with proper notice given to Hewitt but it would essentially send the worse kind of message to future recruits and send us down the tube worse than merely buying him out. Part 4.a states that Hewitt's minimum compensation per year after the 2009-2010 is $1.375 million. So that means we're stuck with a 6 year buyout at that salary if we choose to remove Hewitt. The only way to reduce it would be to not renew in April after the season ended. It's a perfect situation for Hewitt because April is during or before March Madness so every other year he is "safe" and could make the GTAA look like asses for firing a NCAAT coach. For your information, Hewitt's ACC winning percentage took an 8% dive after he got his mega-contract.
3.) GT has had some really great post players in the last few years, and this year is the complete opposite. How has the team reacted to having to play without a guy like Gani Lawal down low?
Well, when you don't have a good big man, you have the color guy shouting crazy stats like, "Iman Shumpert is one of three players in the country to lead his team in points, assists, and rebounds." Basically, teams are not playing zone ever against us. They don't have to. They don't respect our big men and just play tight perimeter man to man D and it shows in the losses. Our guys are getting tired and just falling off in the second half of losses. UNC played into our hands and I don't think many other teams will be running the same transition heavy D and O as UNC. If a team has a solid half court offense or defense, we show ourselves to be pretty inept.
4.) When your guards are inconsistent, your team is inconsistent. Assess the job guys like Iman Shumpert, Glen Rice Jr, Mfon Udofia and Maurice Miller have done this season.
Iman has definitely regressed statistically since last season. He is definitely the leader on the floor but not having a big man to alleviate pressure on the inside has killed our guards shooting opportunities. Mfon is the definition of inconsistency. Even in a game where Tech dominated (UNC), he had 1 assist to 4 turnovers as a point guard. Maurice Miller is probably our most consistent guard but he rarely starts. He hasn't started since his freshman season and we're convinced that Paul Hewitt just loves forcing square pegs into round holes (wings playing point and 1's playing wing). Rice is a great scorer and is definitely a bright spot for this squad.
5.) Did the win over UNC mean something? Is this a moment when the Yellow Jackets can finally turn the corner?
It has something to do with Hewitt's odd priorities. He sees Roy Williams as his archenemy in recruiting so defeating Roy means the world to Paul Hewitt. Hence, Hewitt only has a winning record against Roy Williams and Sidney Lowe. Lowe is awful while Roy gets months of Hewitt's focus and scorn. At least those are the theories that I have proposed. It doesn't really make a lot of sense for Hewitt to be successful against one of the top 3 ACC coaches when he is easily one of the bottom ACC coaches.
6.) How do you, as a fan, stay positive in a down year?
We aren't positive. We're just waiting for the next group of one and dones and hopefully another NCAA berth next season. Once the AMC facelift is complete and Chan Gailey is no longer affiliated with the GTAA, we'll worry about basketball. Until then, we're stuck in a proverbial purgatory.
7.) Wake has a track record in the past of making subpar players into superstars. Who will have their career game against the Deacs tonight?
I'm looking for Brian Oliver to have another 25 point game. For Tech to be a top 5 ACC team, Iman, Oliver, and Glen Rice, Jr. have to all scored double digits every night. Right now that's not happening. We want Brian Oliver to play big.
8.) Prediction time. Who wins? Who goes off? How do you see it all playing out? What's your final?
I think Tech wins. Tech is better than Wake because the bits I've seen of Wake are awful. Tech is bad but not nearly as bad as Wake. We'll make sure the game is close in the first half but will pull away by 10 in the second. I think we're a little better than we were before the break but not by much but I think Wake has fallen off since ACC play started.