ACC Basketball Introductions: How Syracuse Matches Up With Georgia Tech

Joel Auerbach

Our ACC basketball previews continue with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

Our last preview was Florida State, so it's time for Georgia Tech. But first, there's something you need to know about the Yellow Jackets and "New York's College Team."

Ok, sometimes I think that label fosters all the "whenever Syracuse wins within New York State, it doesn't count because it's a home game" ridiculousness. Then I snap the eff out of it. That ridiculousness is fostered by disloyal idiots certain people who say home games are also in New Jersey and Connecticut.

Since you can't reason with the unreasonable, we embraced The Otto-Man Empire. And what do Empires do? They grow. (Yes, yes, they also "strike back." You're very clever.) We've taken Maine. And Tampa. And Raleigh. We're even abroad. Sweden? Annexed. Afghanistan? Annexed. Canada? That's cute. You must be new. Annexed. Annexed. Annexed. An aircraft carrier? Please. Ever heard of the Carrier Dome? Those are home games.

Here's why this matters: Georgia Tech is in Atlanta. Syracuse has an "Office of Admissions - Southeast." Wanna know where it is? I'll give you three guesses, but I bet you only need one. Yep. Update the instructions, guys. When we travel to Tech, it's a home game.

Atlanta. Annexed.

2012-2013 Record: 16-15 (6-12)

Conference Ranking: 9th

Historical Notes: 'Cuse and Tech have played four times, and each has won twice. In one Orange victory, three underclassmen put up double-doubles. You may have heard of them: Gerry McNamara (25 pts, 10 assists), Carmelo Anthony (24 pts, 11 assists), and Hakim Warrick (10 pts, 11 rebounds). Anyone remember how that season ended?

What They're Known For: Ebbing and flowing. Success in the late 80s/early 90s was followed by some off years. Tech was the runner-up in the 2003-04 NCAA tournament, but again, progress didn't last. In the past couple years, they revamped their arena and hired a new coach, hoping to turn things back around.

Season Summary: This young team was a little baffling. Tech had 10-point wins against UVA and Maryland, as well as a two-point victory against Miami at Miami on a Leo Rautins-esque tip in. But when they saw UVA again, they lost by 28. They also went down against Clemson. Twice. In the first round of the ACC tournament, the Yellow Jackets hoped to avenge a close, regular season loss to BC, but Mr. Hanlan and his 41-point thrashing had something to say about that.

Key Players:

Robert Carter, Jr. (9.9 PPG/6.7 RPG/1.0 BPG). The 6-8 forward led the team in rebounds and was the second-leading scorer. For the job well done, he was named to the inaugural Coaches All-ACC Freshman Team. Imagine what he'll do next year now that he used the summer to get in shape.

Marcus Georges-Hunt (10.6 PPG/4.9 RPG/1.5 APG). Remember the tip-in against Miami? It was this guy. The 6-5 guard/forward/combo/ish started out a tad slowly in conference play. It was probably just freshman growing pains, though, because he ended the season as the team's leading scorer.

Daniel Miller (8.4 PPG/6.6 RPG/2.1 BPG). With numbers like that, it shouldn't surprise you that he was named to the All-ACC Defensive Team. As a senior, the 6-11 center will be a huge help (no pun intended) to this team if he continues to be a vocal leader next year, as well.

Personnel Changes: Tech graduates starting point guard, Mfon Udofia (8.3 PPG/2.7 RPG/2.9 APG), Pierre Jordan, and Brandon Reed (5.2 PPG). Reed actually has a year of eligibility left, but he's taking it elsewhere. Also transferring out is forward Julian Royal (3.2 PPG/1.9 RPG).

Former Tennessee point guard, Trae Golden (9.7 PPG/3.6 APG), comes in for his final year of eligibility, and is seeking a waiver so he can play right away. Corey Heyward (6-1 guard), will finally see the floor after redshirting to recover from two ACL tears. The newbies are Travis Jorgenson (6-0, guard) and Quinton Stephens (6-8, forward).

2013-2014 Potential: Next year's Yellow Jackets remind me of a BC-Clemson mix. All three teams are rebuilding, and each are returning a bunch of young players. Like BC, some of Tech's returnees have already garnered conference praise; but like Clemson, when they got frustrated, they lacked the skills to recover. Tech was ranked between these teams last year, and that's where you should expect them to be next year. There were flashes of potential, but even head coach Brian Gregory knows that they need a bit more time to figure it out:
"You shore up one thing that you know you had to do better, and then another problem opens up. We're just not at a point where all the pieces on a consistent basis lock in."
Orange Match-Up: The Yellow Jackets had trouble scoring last year. We all know that the zone exploits such a weakness, so unless their shot selection improves, that will be that. Really. As for Tech's defense, they really worked on it last year to mask their issues on offense. But for such a young team, that mostly meant starting to communicate better. This will definitely progress next year, but not to the point where the Orange will struggle to get good looks. So, not to go all "Charles Barkley" on you, but as long as 'Cuse makes shots, I wouldn't worry.

Coach Gregory plans to push the tempo next season. Sometimes, Syracuse gets flustered and lets opponents dictate pace, but this is where solid guards are key. They set the tone, and Tech won't upset Tyler Ennis like that. They can try, but they should ask the McDonald's All-American guys what happened the last time he got upset. Just sayin'.
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