Alabama @ Georgia Tech: Q&A with From The Rumble Seat

The Crimson Tide basketball team will travel to Atlanta tonight for its non-conference finale against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The game will take place in Atlanta's Phillips Arena (Tech's Alexander Memorial Coliseum is undergoing a massive renovation) and will be televised nationally on ESPNU. Tip off is set for 8:00 pm CST.

To get our readers ready for tonight's game, RBR participated in a Q&A with Georgia Tech blog From the Rumble Seat. My answers for their questions can be found here on their site. FTRS's John Bird was gracious enough to give us an inside look at their team with his responses to my questions below.

RBR: What is the general feeling among Tech fans about the Brian Gregory hire? How do you assess the direction of the program half a season into his tenure?

FTRS: Most Tech fans felt Brian Gregory was a temporary hire or bandaid because of Tech's financial commitment to Paul Hewitt's buyout and the rennovations of Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Gregory was supposedly on the outs with the [Dayton] faithful so Tech got him on the cheap.

After the first 13 or so games, I think Tech fans are still on the fence. He hasn't won any barn burners but he certainly helped his cause by winning in Athens. Tech hadn't won in Athens in the 13 previous attempts. But we still haven't run the gauntlet of the ACC schedule and Gregory's squad has yet to win on the road. In short, the jury is still out.

more questions after the jump...

RBR: The Yellow Jackets have had a mostly disappointing start to the season, sporting a 7-6 record with losses to St. Joe's, Northwestern, LSU, Tulane, Mercer, and Fordham. What are the biggest reasons for the Jackets' struggles?

FTRS: Lack of experience and depth. Tech lost 47% of its starts and 48% of its field goal attempts from the 2010-2011 season due to transfer, graduation, and early departure to the NBA. Paul Hewitt's termination led to two major defections from the lineup in Brian Oliver and Iman Shumpert. This squad doesn't have an experienced leader, which is why we've yet to win a road game outside the State of Georgia.

The other issue, which has always plagued Paul Hewitt squads, is turnovers. Tech has a 152:190 assist to turnover ratio on the season (0.80 assists per turnover). In losses, it jumps to 68:90 (0.76 assists per turnover). Gregory is still working this kink out and will probably need a new point guard in before we see this number flip back in to the positives.

RBR: Despite the mostly disappointing results, Tech has been able to get a pair of good wins, taking out a solid VCU team on a neutral court and beating SEC rivals Georgia in their own house. What allowed Tech to win those games?

FTRS: VCU hasn't defeated a Big 6 conference opponent this season [note: VCU is 11-3 and ranked 39th in the Pomeroy ratings]. They had very little size and Tech just outmuscled them. I think Tech finally got the UGA monkey off its back due to Gregory's newness to the rivalry. He didn't coach a tight game like we've seen from Paul Hewitt in the past and the more talented squad prevailed. Georgia looked awful and played a terrible first half against Tech. It was too big of a hole for them to climb out of and Gregory's defense did just enough to win.

RBR: Briefly describe the Jackets from a personnel perspective.

FTRS: This is a young squad. I don't know how much potential there is in the bunch. Gregory recruits may become the backbone of any future teams. Daniel Miller and Brandon Reed appear to be the rising stars of this squad and I kind of see them being the main Hewitt remnants for Gregory's future teams. Miller is the near 7 footer that is one of the best 5's we've seen in a while. Hewitt never did a good job of recruiting 5's so we often played two awkward 4's ALL THE TIME with Hewitt. Mfon Udofia has been somewhat of a disappointment during his career at Tech at point guard. We keep waiting for some explosive games like he had at the onset of his freshman season but he has yet to really take over a game since 2009.

Glen Rice, Jr., is easily the most talented member of this squad. He has a smooth shot and is the best offensive weapon the Jackets have. He leads the team in steals, assists, points per game, and minutes. If Rice gets taken out of the game, expect Tech to have a rough night.

RBR: What do you think Alabama needs to do to get the road win in Atlanta tonight?

FTRS: Neutralize Glen Rice, Jr., and force turnovers. A good pressure defense is enough to neutralize Tech because this team still hasn't really jelled. Most of the quality guard minutes in 2010-2011 season were spent on developing chemistry amongst Brian Oliver, Glen Rice, and Iman Shumpert and all of those minutes went down the drain when two thirds of our offense exited early. If Bama has a solid defensive effort, I can't see Tech being within 10 points of the Tide.
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