Returning players for 2021-22

Techster

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Like most sports, it's about matchups. Are there teams we could beat playing "small ball" with Usher as our "big"? Sure. We actually have a pretty big guard lineup for small ball (Sturdivant 6'3, Devoe 6'5, Coleman 6'6, Khalid 6'6, Usher 6'7).

However, the end game here is preparing to play against the best teams in the ACC. I believe we can all agree that GT should be past the point of being happy to field a team that's just competitive. We want to start beating teams like UVA, UNC, Duke, FSU more times than not. We want those consistent top 4-5 finishes in the ACC and making long runs (and winning) in ACC tournaments. There's no way that happens without a competent big guy. I think we've been very fortunate to have outstanding big men in Lammers, Banks, and Moses. Given our staff's track record, we'll have another one sooner than later. One thing the the Loyola Chicago game proved is that if you want to compete at the highest level, your big man better at least neutralize the other team's big man. Granted Loyola had one of the best big men in the country, but GT did as well...except our elite big guy was sitting in a hotel room and not out on the floor on game day.

The hope here is that one of Gigi/Howard/Meka will progress enough that we can at least neutralize the other team's big men, and have our other guys outduel their matchups which would lead us to winning more times than not. Remember, Lammers, Banks, and Moses didn't become really good players until their third years. Howard will be in his third year, and both Gigi and Meka will only be in their second year. To expect them to become another Moses/Lammers/Banks is a bit steep, but hoping they can at least hang against the other team's big men, especially on the defensive end, is something to strive for.

I think Gigi has the highest ceiling in terms of skill and physical attributes, but it may take him a while to put it all together. In the meantime, Howard has to take the next step. He's pretty imposing at 6'10 250+ lbs. One thing that hurt us last year was Pastner admittedly being overly cautious in the offseason and preseason because of the unknown. Remember, he said that the players that were hurt the most by not having a "normal" developmental off season and pre season was Howard (1st year in the program) and Gigi (true freshmen). That showed over the course of the season. Those two could not "bang" against the likes of Moses and each other and get hands on experience. This year, it will be full go, so it will be a interesting to see what kind of progress our bigs make under the hands on tutelage of Reveno.

I think we'll be more than fine from 1-4. There's a LOT of talent at our guard and wing positions. Not having a competent guy at 5 will get us in trouble once the ACC schedule comes around.
 

orientalnc

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Like most sports, it's about matchups. Are there teams we could beat playing "small ball" with Usher as our "big"? Sure. We actually have a pretty big guard lineup for small ball (Sturdivant 6'3, Devoe 6'5, Coleman 6'6, Khalid 6'6, Usher 6'7).

However, the end game here is preparing to play against the best teams in the ACC. I believe we can all agree that GT should be past the point of being happy to field a team that's just competitive. We want to start beating teams like UVA, UNC, Duke, FSU more times than not. We want those consistent top 4-5 finishes in the ACC and making long runs (and winning) in ACC tournaments. There's no way that happens without a competent big guy. I think we've been very fortunate to have outstanding big men in Lammers, Banks, and Moses. Given our staff's track record, we'll have another one sooner than later. One thing the the Loyola Chicago game proved is that if you want to compete at the highest level, your big man better at least neutralize the other team's big man. Granted Loyola had one of the best big men in the country, but GT did as well...except our elite big guy was sitting in a hotel room and not out on the floor on game day.

The hope here is that one of Gigi/Howard/Meka will progress enough that we can at least neutralize the other team's big men, and have our other guys outduel their matchups which would lead us to winning more times than not. Remember, Lammers, Banks, and Moses didn't become really good players until their third years. Howard will be in his third year, and both Gigi and Meka will only be in their second year. To expect them to become another Moses/Lammers/Banks is a bit steep, but hoping they can at least hang against the other team's big men, especially on the defensive end, is something to strive for.

I think Gigi has the highest ceiling in terms of skill and physical attributes, but it may take him a while to put it all together. In the meantime, Howard has to take the next step. He's pretty imposing at 6'10 250+ lbs. One thing that hurt us last year was Pastner admittedly being overly cautious in the offseason and preseason because of the unknown. Remember, he said that the players that were hurt the most by not having a "normal" developmental off season and pre season was Howard (1st year in the program) and Gigi (true freshmen). That showed over the course of the season. Those two could not "bang" against the likes of Moses and each other and get hands on experience. This year, it will be full go, so it will be a interesting to see what kind of progress our bigs make under the hands on tutelage of Reveno.

I think we'll be more than fine from 1-4. There's a LOT of talent at our guard and wing positions. Not having a competent guy at 5 will get us in trouble once the ACC schedule comes around.
I really like your posts in this thread, but want to take issue with one point. We saw what happens when we play small ball against a team with an active 5. Khalid was simply not able to defend Krutwig without fouling. And Howard was equally ineffective. The beginning of that game demonstrated your point about denying the entry passes, but Loyola adjusted and we were overmatched inside. We have to have someone with size to play against those teams.
 

MtnWasp

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I

You would like to think a small ball group could get out and run -
Small ball can play half court offense by spreading the floor. The idea is to make opposing bigs defend on the perimeter or have to cover a lot of space away from the paint, which is not what they want to be doing. If they stay low, that leaves open a perimeter shooter. If they come out, that opens driving lanes.

The issue with going small is on defense. How does a small team counter the post-up game? One way is to extend the defense by picking-up ball pressure further from the basket. The idea is to disrupt the entry passes at the level of the passer. Another way is to use quickness on the blocks, with a lot of switches, alternating fronting and to go for the ball if the big brings it down. We saw Alvarado have considerable success defending bigs in the post in this manner late last year.

I think we have seen the staff make progressive moves toward positionless basketball, for instance, in prioritizing guard rebounding, playing switching defenses, having perimeter players guard the post and playing multiple guard sets. The question now is do we develop a big to go back to a more traditional Princeton high post set (which I think that Gigiberia could excel in) or do we continue the towards the goal of positionless basketball with all the guys on the floor having perimeter skills and that we try a swarming style of defense with lots of perimeter pressure and to really spread the floor on offense?

Traditional roles simply don't really apply in the positionless scheme. You need nearly all of the players to be able to fill all the roles, they all need to handle, shoot from the perimeter, be quick in cuts and to pass. They all have to be rangy defenders on the perimeter that can switch without leaving a bad match-up but also be willing to stick their nose in there on the boards and in the post. Guys like Smith (if you watch his high school tape, he is not afraid of post play) and Sturdivant who is a strong guard who likes to penetrate.

Then there is the question whether you can have different sets based on different personnel? Can we effectively run Princeton sets with a traditional 5 but also go positionless with a small but quick line-up? Could we see where we try it one way and if it doesn't work go to the other later in the season?
 

MtnWasp

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I really like your posts in this thread, but want to take issue with one point. We saw what happens when we play small ball against a team with an active 5. Khalid was simply not able to defend Krutwig without fouling. And Howard was equally ineffective. The beginning of that game demonstrated your point about denying the entry passes, but Loyola adjusted and we were overmatched inside. We have to have someone with size to play against those teams.
That is not my recollection of that game. their frontcourt of Kurtwood and Uguak only scored 14 points in that game. They actually adjusted by going small. They shot 48% in the first half and 46.8% in the second.

Their adjustments were on defense. We shot over 57% for the game but could only get-up 47 FG attempts and only had 17 rebounds for the game. We only took 10 threes and made only 3. We only took 5 FTs! Their system just kind of stalled us.

Anyway, they didn't beat us with Kurtwood. It was their wing WIlliamson who destroyed us.
 

Techster

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I really like your posts in this thread, but want to take issue with one point. We saw what happens when we play small ball against a team with an active 5. Khalid was simply not able to defend Krutwig without fouling. And Howard was equally ineffective. The beginning of that game demonstrated your point about denying the entry passes, but Loyola adjusted and we were overmatched inside. We have to have someone with size to play against those teams.

Yup, I referenced that. I didn't get too deep into it because it was evident what happened against Loyola without a guy like Moses to neutralize Krutwig, but it was a point I did touch on...though maybe not as fleshed out as you did. In the ACC, pretty much every team has a decent to very good big man (if not elite), so it's going to be tough sledding if Howard or Gigi doesn't take the next step. I've heard good things about Meka's athletic ability to defend and rebound, although his offensive game is really rudimentary. Maybe that's good enough at the 5 for us: Have a good defender and rebounder, and let guys at 1-4 carry the load on offense.
 

Techster

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That is not my recollection of that game. their frontcourt of Kurtwood and Uguak only scored 14 points in that game. They actually adjusted by going small. They shot 48% in the first half and 46.8% in the second.

Their adjustments were on defense. We shot over 57% for the game but could only get-up 47 FG attempts and only had 17 rebounds for the game. We only took 10 threes and made only 3. We only took 5 FTs! Their system just kind of stalled us.

Anyway, they didn't beat us with Kurtwood. It was their wing WIlliamson who destroyed us.

Williamson and their PG played fantastic that game. We actually raced out to a lead TWICE, but Loyola came back because their guards were every bit as good as ours...if not better if we're being honest. I think Krutwig was effective in other ways though outside of just scoring. He really didn't have a "Krutwig" type game, but we had to account for him which meant Usher and Khalid were stressed on defense beyond how they usually are.
 

Techster

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Guys (and gals)...get excited. Pay attention to how Deivon just blows by defenders who are ahead of him in the open court...the ability to separate with the defender on him...the explosiveness to the basket. Obviously, it's his ability to take care of the ball and run our system that will matter more, but once he puts that together with his abilities...holy crap:



BTW...those are SEC level bball players he's doing that against and not some directional school.
 

jayparr

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I really like your posts in this thread, but want to take issue with one point. We saw what happens when we play small ball against a team with an active 5. Khalid was simply not able to defend Krutwig without fouling. And Howard was equally ineffective. The beginning of that game demonstrated your point about denying the entry passes, but Loyola adjusted and we were overmatched inside. We have to have someone with size to play against those teams.
 

lv20gt

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Last year we were 160th in the nation in defensive efficiency. Here is how we were the previous years under Pastner.

2019 - 29th
2018 - 42nd
2017 - 117th
2016 - 35th

Looking at Kenpom yields a similar outcome albeit not as extreme a difference.

Last year we were 68th
2019 - 16th
2018 - 43rd
2017 - 61st
2016 - 6th


Overall I'd say the defense was good enough, and fun at times to watch, but I think it was our overall worst defense under Pastner. I also think we had two pieces that we likely won't have this year without which the calculus doesn't reach the same conclusion for this year. First off, Usher is significantly smaller than Moses and doesn't have the same experience that Moses had in terms of going up against Lammers and Banks. Ush would face even more issues than Moses and be worse equipped to deal with them. The closest replacement would likely be Meka but he has virtually no experience at this level which was a huge part of what let Moses be effective on defense. He's coming off a back injury on top of that. Second, we likely won't be able to rely on defense pressure on the outside like we did so much last year due to the loss of Jose. Even if Smith or Sturdivant could match what Jose did on defense physically, neither has the experience to believe they can do it to the extent that Jose could while also guarding mismatches and avoiding foul trouble. That is even more true since they will be asked to also help run the offense. Jose did a ton for us last year, and I think we can replace it fairly well overall as a team, but I don't think we can put the same strain on the spot that we did last year and expect that. Realistically, we also don't have the level of rebounding wings that you would need to do that. That was an issue last year, and it won't get better by replacing Moses, far an away our best rebounder, with another effectively another PG. We saw that in the NCAAT and we were absolutely demolished on the boards 30-17


Also, positionless basketball isn't the same as small ball (it's also a bit of a misnomer). If anything it is centered around the idea that bigger players are becoming skilled enough to be able to play smaller roles. Sure you have Golden state when they had Curry and Klay along with Green who's a generational defender in terms of being able to defend big for his size. But overall positionless basketball is becoming more of a thing because of guys like Lebron, KD, Giannis, Kawhi, Jokic, AD, etc all being skilled enough to basically play on the wing, as well as bigger guards becoming more normal overall blurring the lines between positions. IMO the most straightforward move towards positionless basketball conceptually for us would be for Saba to play mostly at the 5 with his perimeter skills.
 

gt24

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my first visit to this thread since last week. and the commentary on here since saturday is elite level gtswarm hoops. love it! so many great observations and analyses. somewhere in the middle of it all, someone said the best part is we are losing ACC POY and ACC DPOY and yet we still have every reason to be optimistic. we have moved past the decade of losing key players and having to start over or rebuild or beg for decent/limited grad transfers to plug glaring roster holes. roster is loaded with talent/potential across positions and across classes. and it is realistic to expect to compete with the ACC upper-echelon next year even after losing POY and DPOY. makes debating lineups, rotations, schemes, etc infinitely more fun.
 

LibertyTurns

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CJP has shown the ability to figure out combinations of players and systems to make us a tough team to play. Some seasons it has taken a while. My biggest question is how long will it take him to figure it out this year? He arguably has as many pieces of the puzzle in total as he’s ever had at GT. If we can get it together quickly we may be in for a surprising season.
 

slugboy

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my first visit to this thread since last week. and the commentary on here since saturday is elite level gtswarm hoops. love it! infinitely more fun.

Well, I’ll blow that streak like a pass into the third row of the stands. ;)

  • In the limited time I saw him play, Saba seemed to know what to do, but had limited agility. I’m sure he’s more agile than any of us on the court, but P6 play is another level. While I’ve seen a ton of people say “you can’t coach speed”, speed and agility are some of the things strength coaches actually do coach and train. It’s hard to grow into a ~7’ frame. I think a combination of positional coaching by Reveno plus physical training plus good offensive and defensive strategies for using our 4/5 players will help a ton with Saba, Howard, and hopefully Meka.
  • Every one of our bigs saw what Moses did. They each have their athletic gifts. They should be eager to be the next one that contends for a POY or DPOY.
  • For some reason, I see us having 2 or 3 lineups, with one being a small, guard-heavy lineup, one more traditional with two bigs and Usher, and possibly one with slashing speed (if a combination of Meka/Khalid/Usher would give us that). That’s if we have enough time to practice like that. We do have enough guards to roll out a 5 guard lineup—the question is whether you’d want to do that.
  • I wonder if Meka and Khalid and Usher will spend some of their time getting guard coaching, like Moses did last year. It seemed to work for him.
 

MountainBuzzMan

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my first visit to this thread since last week. and the commentary on here since saturday is elite level gtswarm hoops. love it! so many great observations and analyses. somewhere in the middle of it all, someone said the best part is we are losing ACC POY and ACC DPOY and yet we still have every reason to be optimistic. we have moved past the decade of losing key players and having to start over or rebuild or beg for decent/limited grad transfers to plug glaring roster holes. roster is loaded with talent/potential across positions and across classes. and it is realistic to expect to compete with the ACC upper-echelon next year even after losing POY and DPOY. makes debating lineups, rotations, schemes, etc infinitely more fun.
That's all well and good, but I thought we still wanted to fire the coach and start over? ;)
 

Techster

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  • I wonder if Meka and Khalid and Usher will spend some of their time getting guard coaching, like Moses did last year. It seemed to work for him.

Usher is a guard. It speaks to his versatility and talent that our coach felt comfortable (and the team needed him) to play him at the 4. It also speaks to his unselfishness that he was willing to play at the 4 for the benefit of the team because his future on pro level is at guard and wing. We got to see more of his guard skills on the offensive end. He would have been more of a problem on the defensive end for other teams defending guard and wing spots because he's such a mismatch with his length and athleticism.

I'm pretty certain Usher does a lot of drilling at guard even though he has forward responsibilities.
 

orientalnc

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My lunchtime project today while eating leftover pork chops. Pardon any greasy spots on the post.

Here are the ACC players on the NBA draft early entry list, by team, plus the number of players exiting those programs via the portal. Most of these teams have talent coming in via the portal or high school, but this demonstrates the turnover in the league this year.

Boston College: Steffon Mitchell 6-8 Senior (four in transfer portal)

Clemson: Aamir Simms 6-8 Senior, Clyde Trapp 6-4 Senior, Jonathan Baehre 6-10 Senior (four in transfer portal)

Duke: Jalen Johnson 6-9 Freshman, DJ Steward 6-2 Freshman, Matthew Hurt 6-9 Sophomore (three in transfer portal)

Florida State: M.J. Walker 6-5 Senior, Scottie Barnes 6-9 Freshman, RaiQuan Gray 6-8 Junior Quade, Balsa Koprivica 7-1 Sophomore (two in transfer portal)

Georgia Tech: Moses Wright 6-9 Senior, Jose Alvarado 6-0 Senior (one in transfer portal)

Louisville: David Johnson 6-5 Sophomore, Carlik Jones 6-1 Senior (two in transfer portal)

Miami: Kameron McGusty 6-5 Senior, Isaiah Wong 6-3 Sophomore (five in the transfer portal)

North Carolina: Day’Ron Sharpe 6-11 Freshman, Armando Bacot 6-10 Sophomore (two in transfer portal)

N.C. State: D.J. Funderburk 6-10 Senior (three in transfer portal)

Notre Dame: Juwan Durham 6-11 Senior (one in transfer portal)

Pittsburgh: Justin Champagnie 6-6 Sophomore (five in transfer portal)

Syracuse: Alan Griffin 6-5 Junior, Quincy Guerrier 6-7 Sophomore, Marek Dolezaj 6-10 Senior (six in transfer portal)

Virginia: Trey Murphy III 6-9 Junior, Sam Hauser 6-8 Senior, Junior Jay Huff 7-1 Senior (three in transfer portal)

Virginia Tech: Keve Aluma 6-9 Junior, Cartier Diarra 6-4 Senior (two in transfer portal)

Wake Forest: Ian DuBose 6-4 Senior, Jonah Antonio 6-5 Senior (five in transfer portal)


Notable: UNC lost all four of their bigs. Cuse has a whole new team. Pitt, Wake, and Clemson lost a ton of talent.
 

gt24

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That's all well and good, but I thought we still wanted to fire the coach and start over? ;)
after the 0-2 start, there were some (a minority) gtswarmers that were adamant that pastner was/is the right guy and that people calling for his head were delusional. if memory serves, @MtnWasp had the post of the year way back in october or november where he laid out why it was asinine for gt fans to think we needed a new coach.
 

Techster

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after the 0-2 start, there were some (a minority) gtswarmers that were adamant that pastner was/is the right guy and that people calling for his head were delusional. if memory serves, @MtnWasp had the post of the year way back in october or november where he laid out why it was asinine for gt fans to think we needed a new coach.

I think the question of whether GT needs a new basketball coach has been put to rest. Now the big issue is when Pastner will get new gym shorts...and a polo to tuck into those new gym shorts...
 
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