Georgia Tech Is Talented, Athletic, but Not Elite Because of Paul Hewitt
Georgia Tech certainly has not suffered from a lack of talent during the last half-decade under frequent hot-seat occupier Paul Hewitt. An excellent recruiter, Hewitt has reeled in at least one five-star recruit in each of the past five seasons.
Yet Hewitt doesn't win.
The Yellow Jackets have finished under .500 in three of the past four seasons.
Last year's team featured two current NBDL players and two more—Iman Shumpert and Gani Lawal—that will likely play in the next level. With four professional prospects, Hewitt could only muster up 12 victories.
That's right. Four pro prospects translated to three wins a piece.
Four prospects on the same court together produced a Samford-like one point per possession. Only four major conference teams scored at a worse rate than Georgia Tech.
How can a team with so much talent be, to put it simply, so awful offensively?
Georgia Tech's struggles have one origin: Paul Hewitt.
College players typically love to play in offenses that have lots of freedom and allow players to create a lot of their own shots. It mimics professional ball fairly closely, so schools like Georgia Tech can be great launching points for pro prospects.
The talent comes to GTech to play in that system and ultimately not succeed at the college level.
Tuesday night was a perfect example of Georgia Tech's offensive system failing. The Yellow Jackets hung on to win against Clemson, 66-64, but Tech's defensive interior was responsible for the victory.
On the offensive end of the floor, Clemson baited Georgia Tech into speeding up its offensive game plan (if you want to even call it a game plan).
The track meet meant the Yellow Jackets were going to turn it over again and again and again. Through the first 11 minutes, GTech gave the ball away on 39 percent of its possessions.
The game plan changed, but the results really didn't.
Georgia Tech bolted down the floor ahead of the Clemson defense for several easy baskets, but the anemic half-court offense continued to suffer. The Ramblin' Wreck resorted to chuck-and-hustle after the many offensive rebounds.
The overall offensive game plan wasn't the only flaw to Hewitt's coaching Tuesday night.
When looking at several key instances, it was clear Hewitt doesn't have his players ready to execute in special situations.
A sign of a good coach is when his team "wins" timeouts. That means they execute and make high percentage plays following timeouts.
Hewitt's club simply didn't do that against Clemson.
Example No. 1
The situation: Georgia Tech ball with 4.4 seconds left in the first half. Hewitt uses his use-it-or-lose-it timeout.
What happened: D'Andre Bell has the ball about six feet behind the 3-point line and chucks up a shot with more than two seconds left on the clock. Predictably, Bell misses badly.
What should have happened: Instead of Bell, who had attempted 13 3-pointers all year entering Tuesday night, taking the shot, Bell should have found the open man standing 20 feet to his right. That man, Brian Oliver, was standing wide open behind the line. Oh, and Oliver is a 40 percent 3-point shooter.
Example No. 2
The situation: Georgia Tech is coming out of a timeout with the ball. There's about 2:30 left on the second-half clock, and the Yellow Jackets have a slim 62-60 lead.
What happened: Only a few seconds into the possession, Oliver, a freshman and Georgia Tech's fifth option when he's on the floor, takes an ill-advised turnaround, contested baseline jumper.
What should have happened: Pretty much anything else. There were four future professionals on the floor who are better bets to hit a clutch shot. Plus, if Oliver is going to take that shot, he could at least wait until Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal have established rebounding position.
Example No. 3
The situation: Clemson calls timeout, needing a basket with 1:30 left.
What happened: Within a second of the ball being inbounded, Bell fouls Trevor Booker. Booker hits both free throws, and Clemson gains a two-point lead.
What should have happened: Play defense. It's that simple. Clemson continued to settle for contested drives into Georgia Tech's trees, which simply wasn't working.
Example No. 4
The situation: Georgia Tech calls timeout with five seconds left and the game tied.
What happened: The inbounds play breaks down, and the ball ends up in Zachery Peacock's hands. He puts his head down and breaks for the paint, where four Clemson Tigers are waiting. But in the process, Booker repays the favor and inexplicably fouls Peacock.
What should have happened: Peacock should have kept his head up because he likely could have found the guard standing wide open for three on the wing. There's a much better chance that the guard drills the three than Peacock comes up with a basket among four defenders in the paint.
This team doesn't know how to use its talent. On some days, Georgia Tech can beat the Dukes and North Carolinas of the world.
Other days, Georgia and Virginia look like Goliaths.
With this inconsistency, there's little chance Georgia Tech can fully exploit its talent for a Final Four run. It's likely the inconsistency will even keep this team out of the second weekend of the tournament.
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