Atlanta, GA - Georgia Tech, ranked 22nd in the nation, is beginning its 2009-10 season against a team, Florida A&M, from the same city as the team it concluded last season against, Florida State. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at the Henry F. McCamish, Jr., Basketball Complex.
Tickets are available ($20) for Saturday’s game at the gate, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The game is not being televised, but can be heard on the Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network (WQXI 790 AM, WYAY 106.7 FM in Atlanta).
Tech, which posted a 12-19 overall record (2-14 ACC) last year, nonetheless finished the season strong, splitting its last four games, including a regular-season triumph over Miami and a first-round ACC Tournament win over No. 17 Clemson before a heart-breaking two-point loss to the 22nd-ranked Seminoles.
Florida A&M is beginning its third season under head coach Eugene Harris, having posted a 9-20 overall mark last year, and a 6-10 record in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
The Yellow Jackets begin the season ranked 22nd in the Associated Press poll, and 20th in the ESPN/USA Today poll. Tech has four players back who started more than half its games last year (Gani Lawal, Iman Shumpert, Zachery Peacock, Moe Miller), and a fifth who started 22 games the year before (D’Andre Bell).
Tech has opened the season at home in each of the previous nine seasons under head coach Paul Hewitt, winning eight of the nine. The only loss occurred to open the 2007-08 season, an 83-74 defeat to UNC-Greensboro.
Series With Florida A&M
> Georgia Tech is meeting Florida A&M for the fifth time, having won all four previous meetings. All four prior games have been played at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
> The teams first met in 1992, and most recently played in the 2001-02 season, the only previous meeting under Tech head coach Paul Hewitt. This is the first meeting with the Rattlers under their current head coach, Eugene Harris.
> Georgia Tech has one player from the state of Florida in its team - Zachery Peacock from Miami. Florida A&M has five from the state of Georgia on its roster, four of them from the Atlanta area.
> Tech is 22-0 all-time against current members of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
> In its previous four meetings with FAMU, Tech has averaged 102.5 points against the Rattlers and posted an average winning margin of 38 points. Tech’s 112-56 win in 1994 remains the fourth-largest margin of victory in Yellow Jacket history.
Tech Celebrating Three Anniversaries in 2009-10
Georgia Tech is playing its 93rd season of basketball, but it is also observing the anniversaries of three important accomplishments in the history of the Yellow Jackets’ program.
Fifty years ago, in 1960, Tech made the NCAA Tournament for the first time as an automatic qualifier out of the Southeastern Conference. Roger Kaiser, a consensus All-American from Dale, Ind., led the Yellow Jackets to a first-round victory over Ohio University before Tech fell to eventual national champion Ohio State in the second round. Tech finished the year 22-6.
Twenty-five years ago, in 1985, Tech won the first of its three Atlantic Coast Conference titles and earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since that 1960 team. Called the “Thin Gold Line,” the Bobby Cremins-coached team featured All-Americans Mark Price, John Salley and Bruce Dalrymple. That Yellow Jackets’ unit won the ACC Tournament at the Omni in Atlanta, defeating Virginia, Duke and North Carolina, then reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, where they fell to defending champion Georgetown, and finished 27-8.
Twenty years ago, in 1990, Tech reached the NCAA Final Four for the first time behind the famous “Lethal Weapon 3” trio of Brian Oliver, Dennis Scott and Kenny Anderson. The Yellow Jackets defeated East Tennessee State, LSU, Michigan State and Minnesota on the way to Denver, where they fell to eventual champion UNLV and finished 28-7. That Tech team also won the ACC title in Charlotte that season.
Tech will honor these teams by wearing replica uniforms throughout the 2009-10 season. Each team also will be invited back for a reunion at a Tech game - the 1960 team on Dec. 20, the 1985 team on Jan. 14, and the 1990 team in Feb. 6.
Tech in the Thrillerdome
Georgia Tech has played 52 seasons of basketball at Alexander Memorial Coliseum (capacity 9,191), and has a record of 532-187 (.740) in the building, which opened Nov. 30, 1956 with a 71-61 Tech loss to Duke. Known as the “Thrillerdome,” the Coliseum is the second-oldest arena in use in the ACC, behind Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke.
07 season. Since the 1981-82 season, Tech is 292-86 (.772) in its on-campus home, and the Jackets are 97-39 (.711) at home under head coach Paul Hewitt.
Tech is 164-13 against non-conference foes at Alexander Memorial Coliseum since the beginning of the 1981-82 season, including Penn State and UIC last season, each of whom have beaten the Jackets twice since 1981. From 1981 through last season, the only other non-ACC teams to win at the Thrillerdome have been Penn, Tulane and IUPUI (all in the 2001-02 season), Georgia (2000), College of Charleston (1993), Louisville (1989), and Richmond (1987).
Quick Look at Tech
Georgia Tech looks ahead to a season with great promise. Ten letterwinners and four starters return from last year’s team, bolstered by a recruiting class some services ranked as high as fourth-best in the nation.
The Yellow Jackets welcome back senior wingman D’Andre Bell, who missed the entire 2008-09 campaign after surgery to repair a congenital spinal condition. Junior Gani Lawal, who entered his name in the NBA draft but ultimately decided to remain in school, comes back to a talented and deep Tech team and may contend for ACC Player of the Year honors.
Lawal, a 6-9 forward from Norcross, Ga., and the ninth Georgia Tech player to apply for early entry into the NBA draft, became the first to remove his name and return to school. That decision may be the most important factor in whatever success the Yellow Jackets enjoy this year.
Before a late-season scoring surge by Lewis Clinch last year, Lawal led the Jackets in both scoring and rebounding. He finished the year averaging 15.1 points per game and, with the help of a league-leading 16 double-doubles, ranked second in the Atlantic Coast Conference in rebounding at 9.5 per game. He also was among the conference’s top five in blocked shots and field goal percentage.
Bell’s return gives Tech some muscle and desire on defense. The 6-5 wing player can handle the ball and score well from mid-range, but it is his ability to defend any perimeter position that adds the most value to Hewitt’s team.
Joining them are 6-8 senior Zachery Peacock, 6-2 junior point guard Maurice “Moe” Miller and 6-5 sophomore guard Iman Shumpert, who combined to start 77 games last season, as well as veteran reserves Lance Storrs, 6-5, and Nick Foreman, 6-3, in the backcourt and 7-foot Brad Sheehan in the frontcourt.
Of Tech’s returning players, seven have started at least two games in their careers, and they have combined for 198 career starts. Tech’s returning players accounted for 66 percent of the Yellow Jackets’ scoring from last season, and 72.5 percent of the minutes played.
The recruiting class features five players ranked in the top 100 seniors in the nation last year, led by Parade and USA Today national player of the year Derrick Favors, a 6-10 forward from Atlanta. They give head coach Paul Hewitt and his staff more talent and depth than any of their previous nine Tech teams.