Mmm, Cupcakes are Tasty!
So the snacky beginning to GT's basketball schedule is now over, with the Yellow Jackets having consumed it without so much as a burp. What do four blowouts against lesser opposition have to show us?
- Javaris Crittenton is everything we needed, and then possibly some more on top of that. He's long, smooth and looks completely in control. Unlike the two other hyped freshman PG's in this class (Sherron Collins at KU and Tywon Lawson at UNC) he looks steady and ready for the big time. This was my biggest fear, this very talented team could be destroyed by poor play from Crittenton and a slew of freshman errors - but he's been extremely good right out the door. 100+ in the past two games isn't a mistake when your point guard has 19 assists combined.
- Lewis Clinch is more muscular, has improved his handle and is making "the leap" into a big time ACC scorer. He has the soul of an assassin and he's super smooth with what is turning into a lethal mid range game to go with his solid outside shooting. Anthony Morrow led the team in scoring and 3pt shooting last year, and yet Clinch is playing so well he's going to turn Morrow into a weapon off the bench. Plus, #0 as shooting guard is just sweet. Clinch has hit 21-29 shots in 3 games, scoring 50 total points - that's one impressive line.
- Thad Young is really good. We already knew this, but he hasn't dissapointed in the least. His passing and defensive are possibly more impressive than his offensive skills - prodigious as they are. More about Thad in a couple of points.
- Overall defense has been spectacular because of the ridiculous length of this team. Any time Crit, Thad and Faye are on the court at the same time there's more arms on the court than I've ever seen. Those three in particular are just everywhere and getting fingers on every pass. We extend the floor like the '04 team, forcing opponents to set up even farther away from the basket and creating easy scoring opportunities over turnovers. This is a fun, fun group to watch.
- Interior defense is still a bit spotty, and I'm not sure it's going to get better. When your two best shotblockers appear to be wings (Faye and Thad) and your two "post" players are a bit undersized in one case and slow to move their feet in the other, you're going to have a soft spot there if people can beat the pressure on the wings and backcourt. This might just be an area that Hewitt has to scheme around to overcome, though I'm scared what Hansbrough might do to us.
- This isn't the Hive, we have a #6 here - and it's Faye. He's been very impressive on the defensive end, and while he's a bit raw on the offensive end he's clearly got a large skillset and will only improve. Nice jumper, decent handles, good court awareness and a willingness to pass the basketball. It's on the other end where he's spectacular though, the guy is just everywhere and his hands seem to be on every ball. He goes from pressuring the PG on one possession to guarding the center the next under the hoop. He's going to play a ton because Hewitt loves defense and he's the best defender on the team.
- The best lineup so far is Crittenton, Clinch, Thad, Faye and Dickey and it's not even close. So athletic, so long and so able to pressure on the perimeter. As long as Dickey exerts effort on the defensive end of the court, he's clearly our best post presense and I love Jeremis Smith but he's more limited in what he can do defensively than Faye. Smith seems to work better with the second unit, and will still be one of the team leaders in minutes - but the group I listed is so fast and fluid and will give people fits all season long.
- This is the most talented Tech team I've ever seen 1 through 9, and while there will be growing pains (maybe as soon as Maui) there is enormous potential for the end of the season. The fact that Anthony Morrow isn't more prominently featured in this review says something ... the guy is still a heck of a player but he's no longer the "go to star" of this team, heck he's probably not even a starter even when healthy. That's ridiculous. Hewitt is slowly building a monster program in Atlanta.