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.