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Behind Enemy Lines: Georgia Tech

To help preview tonight's game, we talked with BirdGT from the SB Nation Georgia Tech blog From The Rumble Seat. You can see our answers to their questions here.

SoP: How has the GT basketball program fared under Paul Hewitt,and what were your expectations for this year's team before the season started?

BirdGT: The Georgia Tech fan base is kinda frustrated with Paul Hewitt.  It has become a pattern of Hewitt's to draw in a big recruiting class, make the tournament as a middling seed, lose all of said talent to the NBA Draft, and follow up the tourney year with a really bad down year. Repeat.

Tech fans want to see some progression and consistency.  We're not sure if Hewitt is merely the coach of the modern college basketball era or if he is just a great recruiter.  Personally, I think he's an average recruiter in a recruiting hot bed with very little X's and O's ability.  Pressing the inbounds pass against a CPH team is like pressing the inbounds against a middle school team.  It's chaotic and frustrating for Tech fans.

SoP: Georgia Tech has been tough to figure out this season, losing to lowly Kennesaw State but also beating UTEP and challenging 10th ranked Syracuse. Why have they been so inconsistent?

BirdGT: I am sure Kennesaw State is not the last of our ugly losses.  Georgia Tech is an average shooting team with no low post game.  UTEP just didn't have the horses to run with us and Syracuse has always been very similar to Georgia Tech and UNC as far as game play (poor fundamentals, poor shooting, etc.).  If GT were to match up with a good fundamental team with some talent, we'd get blown out of the water.  Hewitt is also masterful at short turn around games in tournaments (30-20 record in tournament play at Tech).  Northwestern should provide a huge challenge for Hewitt's squad particularly since it's on the road.

SoP: Who does Paul Hewitt have to replace the talented inside duo of Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal?

BirdGT: Right now, Daniel Miller and Kammeon Holsey are rotating at the 5.  Miller is a true freshman and Holsey tore his knee up last season and redshirted so both are relatively green on the college hardwood.  Miller is leading the team in blocks and Holsey is the raw, athletic one of the two.  There's no team in America that could quickly replace Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal so this season will definitely be an adjustment for Tech fans as we adjust to a 4-guard offense

SoP: The strength of GT would seem to be an experienced group of returning guards. Who does Hewitt have in the back court?

BirdGT: You would be correct.  We return about 84% of 3-pointers made last season and 69% of our assists despite only returning about 42% of the actual minutes played.  This team's offense runs through Iman Shumpert.  He's a combo guard that Tech fans really enjoy watching.  He doesn't have the smoothest jumper but he can really take over a game if he gets good penetration and kicks out to his wings.

Brian Oliver and Glen Rice, Jr. are the scoring wings for Tech.  Both are explosive and were two of the more underrated yet talented true freshman in the ACC last season.  Oliver is rebounding at reDUNKulous clip right now and has really blossomed in his sophomore season.  Rice was one of the main 3-point shooters last season but has relatively cold from behind the arc in the 2010-2011 season.

Our true point guards are crusty veteran Maurice Miller and Mfon Udofia.  Miller has seen a lot of live fire.  He started for Hewitt's squad as a true freshman and has played in over 90 games in Paul Hewitt's system.  He isn't the greatest handler but he'll be the one relieving Iman in certain point guard situations.  Mfon is a good scoring guard but is still pretty raw.

SoP: What kind of a game do you expect tonight?

BirdGT:  I'll go ahead and forewarn you that Tech has a really ugly offense.  We don't shoot well but we rebound well and we play defense like our hair on fire.  It's trademark Paul Hewitt.  Look for a lot of awkward timeouts and full court press.  I think Tech can win but Northwestern is at home and Tech is 10-17 on the road against out of conference opponents.  We're particularly bad in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge with a 4-6 overall record.  I'll give the edge to Northwestern.  Maybe a 55-45 advantage for the Cats.