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Shawntrez Davis going up for a put back dunk. (Romeo Guzman, bcuathletics.com)

This season’s NCAA basketball openers came and went within a blink of an eye…except for us Georgia Tech fans, who had to hold our eyes open to watch the Yellow Jackets play UCLA on Friday night. If you recorded the game and watched it in the morning before the football game, you are lame; but also smarter than me, because I was as beat up as Jake Fromm after running away from the Auburn defense on Saturday. Let me take one second please: War Damn Eagle! Now, let’s go Kentucky! Back on track, Tech hung in there but fell short. Not going to get into that game right now, so all I will say is “#Lammers4Heisman”.

Georgia Tech’s next chance to redeem themselves comes Sunday afternoon against Bethune-Cookman. When I think of Bethune-Cookman, I immediately think of former Atlanta Falcon, Mr. Fair Catch, Eric Weems. Bethune-Cookman is his alma mater along with Rashean Mathis and other NFL players. The Wildcats are better known for producing NFL talent rather than professional hoopers. The closest thing to basketball success from them is that Vince Carter’s and Shaq’s mothers attended the university.

Bethune-Cookman plays in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. They are coming off a 10-22 season last year and are starting fresh with new Head Coach, Ryan Ridder. Ridder came from Daytona Beach College, which was his first head coaching job for a 4 year stint. He was Coach of the Year for 4 years in a row, due to his accomplished 95 wins, four Mid-Florida Conference Championships, and most impressively, a 100% graduation rate his first two years. Overall he graduated 96% during the four years that he spent there.

The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats won their first game of the season against Johnson University, 108-66. Leading the way with 24 points and 11 boards in 22 minutes was the 6’9” junior, and Atlanta native, Shawntrez Davis. Davis was rated as high as a 4 star on some recruiting sites out of high school. He took official visits to Boston College, LSU, and Texas Tech, who eventually won the recruiting battle. Unfortunately, he did not qualify and could not get into the school. The last two years, he has been bouncing around community colleges before settling in at Bethune-Cookman. He is a highly skilled player that can give Tech some problems due to his freak athletic ability, particularly around the basket.

Another weapon in Coach Ridder’s arsenal is Brandon Tabb, the 6’4” guard out of Hampton, Virginia. Tabb is the returning leading scorer for the Wildcats, while averaging 17.8 points per game last year. He is known for his scoring and more specifically his 3-point shooting. He shot an astounding 307 three pointers last year, landing him 5th nationally in that category. His career high in points is 30, and he’s made 7 out of 10 three pointers in a single game. Quoting the high socks legend Kyle Korver, “shooters shoot.”

The man running the offense, stands at 5’9”, 175 pounds, Malik Maitland. Maitland is a junior and a transfer from Morehead State. He dropped 16 points and 12 dimes in the first game against Johnson University. He is a quick, pesky guard, who like Ricky Bobby, likes to go fast.

The final key player for the Wildcats is 6’6”, Armani Collins. To no one’s surprise, he also runs the floor and has no problem letting three pointers fly. He shot 50% the last game, knocking down 4 three pointers, ending up with 14 points. Run, run, and oh yeah, run some more…that is the philosophy of Ridder and you see it throughout his team. Push the ball fast, spread the floor, get to the rim or stretch it out for a three pointer. Not too many Tim Duncan 15 footers will be seen from the Wildcats on Sunday.

Tech should be able to take advantage of this style of play. Georgia Tech has the better athletes. Bethune-Cookman will likely try to move the ball fast, which can cause them to play sloppy, especially if Georgia Tech is playing defense up to their abilities. This is exactly what the Yellow Jackets would like to see happen.

Prediction: I foresee Jose Alvarado getting in the grill of the ball handlers and getting multiple steals and deflections. Justin Moore should have a big game in transition, while getting lay-ups and setting up his teammates with dunks (if they fill the lanes correctly). Lammers should be a handful down low on the block, which is why I imagine Bethune-Cookman will go with a zone. Zone may also be a problem for Bethune-Cookman, because Ben can hit that 15-footer with ease. We may even get to see Lammers’ “Dirk/White Melo/Tim Duncan/whatever else Bill Walton called him” turnaround jumper…. straight cash. My bold prediction for this game is that Moses Wright gets on track and puts up double digits along with Haywood, who will hit multiple threes. Tech by 15.

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Head Coach Paul Johnson

ATLANTA, GA - After the team's third practice of Fall Camp 2014, Georgia Tech head football coach Paul Johnson spoke about the team and fielded questions from the media. While confirming that Justin Thomas #5 was the starting quarterback and Tim Byerly #18 was the backup as it stands right now, Coach Johnson also pointed out that there were four weeks to fall camp suggesting that anything could happen before the season started.

Thomas, a 5'11 185 pound redshirt sophomore from Prattville, AL, is recognized for having the speed to get to the edge and the quickness to make defenders miss. On the other hand, Byerly is a 6'0 215 pound redshirt junior from Alpharetta, GA and a transfer from Middle Tennessee, is seen as a tough inside runner that can fight for extra yards after contact. "Justin is more of a 'make you miss' guy and Tim is more of a 'run through, run over you' guy," said Johnson while simplifying differences between the two quarterbacks. Coach Johnson also reiterated that, "they both can do what we need to do in the offense, don't think we'll need to change [the offense] for one or the other."

Heading into his seventh season at the helm of Georgia Tech's football program, Coach Johnson conveyed confidence in the players, their attitude, and the team as a whole. "I feel good about their work ethic and the way they work, they are a pretty tight-knit group, and I think they have high expectations for themselves. They want to be good and I think they believe in what we're doing," said Johnson.

Regarding depth at specific positions, Johnson highlighted that the majority of wide receiver will be back from last season and a lot of players at the A-back position had a lot of experience. Although Robert Godhigh #25, who was the team's 2nd leading rusher last season with 744 yards and averaging a whopping 9.4 yards per carry, will be missed; Johnson listed six familiar names at the position that all have had been part of the A-back rotation for the past few years. Among those that have started games in the past, Georgia Tech will return Deon Hill #31, Charles Perkins #21, Synjyn Days #10, and BJ Bostic #7.

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Coach Johnson speaks to the media

"Right now there's a competition between Freddie Burden [#58] and Thomas O'Reilly [#77] [at center] but we'll be fine there," said Johnson of his offensive line. "I feel real good about [the offensive line]. We are probably more athletic on the offensive line than we've been, maybe not as much experience but a little bigger and more athletic." Johnson later continued, "we've got more depth there than we've ever had. We finally got the numbers that you need to have so we'll probably play a few more players there than we have in the past."

On the defensive front, Georgia Tech needs to replace the school's career sack (31.5) record holder set last season by Jeremiah Attaochu #45 who was drafted by the San Diego Chargers as the 18th pick of the 2nd round in the 2014 NFL Draft. Johnson emphasized the need to play by committee on the defensive line with experienced Adam Gotsis #96 and Shawn Green #97 anchoring the interior and looked forward to having the younger players like Francis Kallon #92 and Pat Gamble #91 step up this season. At the ends, Johnson expects those positions to be sorted out in fall camp but highlighted true freshmen KeShun Freeman #42 from spring practice, Tyler Stargel #99, Roderick Rook-Chungong #41, and Nick Menocal #48.

Coach Johnson also acknowledged the concerns about the experience lost from the team a season ago, "there's six guys in NFL camps right now. So we've got to replace those guys. We've got to replace a lot of experience on the offensive line. So there's question marks."

"Are we going to be the most talented team that we've had here? Individually? Probably not." Then the head coach contended, "but that doesn't mean you're not going to be the best team. We'll have to see."

Georgia Tech kicksoff its 2014 season at home against Wofford at 12:30 PM ET on Saturday August 30th, 2014. For the rest of the schedule, please click here.

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Justin Thomas helps Charles Perkins warmup

ATLANTA, GA - Georgia Tech football's 2014 preseason is officially under way. The team continued preseason camp Saturday by completing their third practice leading up to the season opener on August 30. Saturday was also an unofficial 2014 season kickoff of sorts, highlighted by both Media Day and Fan Day. GTSwarm's @John, @PowderSpringsJacket88, and @CuseJacket were fortunate to be a part of it.

The day started with players streaming in for 9:30am practice. The team made it to Rose Bowl field and the John and Mary Brock Football Practice Facility 10-15 minutes early, an early indicator of the positive energy observed throughout the day's events.

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Coach Sisk oversees warmups

Media was allowed for the first 20 minutes during warmups and start of special teams practice. Standing next to the players was a visual reminder of how much work the players put in during the offseason. Several players made obvious strides in the weight room, not the least of which were guys in offensive and defensive positions of great interest. Justin Thomas #5, Pat Gamble #91, and Francis Kallon #92 all passed the eye test. Their progress during camp continues to be a hot topic among fans that we intend to follow closely.

Shaq Mason #70 and Trey Braun #78 have established themselves as leaders of the offensive line as evidenced by them leading the unit through stretches. Their leadership and the overall health of offensive line going into camp is something that excites QB's Thomas and Byerly. When asked during the afternoon media session what it's like to work behind a healthy line Byerly stated, "Oh man, it is awesome. We have a ton of depth there. Shaq and Trey Braun are really taking control and making sure the new guys know what they're doing. That helps Justin and I a lot. We feel way more comfortable going up to the line. We don't have to check a play to a better position outside since we're more balanced. It helps us a lot."

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Coach Preston and players

The incoming freshman class has many Tech fans excited. When asked which young guys have looked good so far, safety Jamal Golden #4 replied, "KeShun Freeman has looked really good. Then you have the Austin twins who have come in and have been very impressive. They're very skilled. They're still learning the game right now but I feel like they're going to be very good players." Some other players noted during player interviews include Step Durham #29, C.J. Leggett #30, and Qua Searcy #82. Searcy is starting out at wide receiver and was also one of four players seen fielding punts during practice.

When asked about personal goals this year, the common theme among players was to deflect to larger team goals. As a leader of the defense Golden's answer was no surprise, "Be top in the ACC. Right now I'm most worried about our team goal which is to get to Charlotte. Really my personal goal is to do whatever I can to get us to Charlotte." Byerly continued plainly, "Ultimately, I just want to win."

GTSwarm's complete player interviews are posted here where you'll find more from Justin Thomas, D.J. White, Zach Laskey, Jamal Golden, Tim Byerly, and Isaiah Johnson. There is plenty of good stuff, including Laskey's offseason preparation to carry the load at B-Back this year, D.J. White's efforts to continue his momentum from the Music City Bowl, and more on the 2014 freshman class.