The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-0) will be having their Thanksgiving on the road in Orlando at the HP Field House at Disney’s Wide World of Sports when they face the Marquette Golden Eagles (2-2) in the Orlando Classic.
Neutral court games have a way of being a true test of how good or how bad your basketball team is. You are expected to hold down your home court, but neutral court games with a tournament format is a different story.
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Brian Gregory knows that his team is going to be challenged by Marquette and this challenge is coming at the right time.
The Golden Eagles and Yellow Jackets have not faced each other on the hardwood since the 1976-77 season. Marquette was led by coaching legend Al McGuire at that time and their nickname was the Warriors while Tech was coached by Dwayne Morrison.
The 2014 edition of Marquette is coached by a disciple of a coaching legend. Steve Wojciechowski has his first coaching job of his career after sitting on the bench with Duke basketball guru Mike Kryzewski.
Marquette’s record of 2-2 has been built with wins over Tennessee-Martin and NJIT with losses to Ohio State and Omaha-Nebraska being sandwiched in between.
“Wojo” is at the healm of a team that has an interesting mix of upperclassman and “newbies”, which along with the change in coaching philosophy, could explain the early inconsistency from his team.
Marquette was coached last season by Buzz Williams who Tech will see during the ACC slate when they face Virginia Tech later on in the year.
The Golden Eagles are led by senior 6-foot-6 forward Juan Anderson who averages 16.3 points on 62.5% shooting from the floor, and 7.3 boards which are all team highs.
Freshman guard Duane Wilson is the top scorer out of the Golden Eagles backcourt dropping 11.8 points and 2.8 assist on the stat sheet.
Marquette relies on an eight man rotation that really does not have the size to contend with Georgia Tech in this game.
Their biggest player is 6-foot-7 junior forward Steve Taylor who averages 9.3 points and 6.8 boards per contest.
This game on paper says that Georgia Tech’s formula of owning the offensive and defensive glass with Charles Mitchell, Demarco Cox and Robert Sampson is tailor made to work on Marquette.
Quinton Stephens has been a force at the small forward spot through three games averaging 14.0 points and 6.0 rebounds on a whopping 57.1% shooting from the field and draining 57.1% of his shots from deep.
Brian Gregory’s Jackets have been pretty efficient through three games offensively hitting 46.6% of their shots from the field. The three-point shooting can be improved with Tech knocking the deep ball down at 31.3% clip.
The mid-range and interior scoring is where Tech has done their offensive damage hitting 52% of their two-point field goals. Needless to say Tech will be looking to do their damage from 17-feet and in.
Josh Heath has been a big reason for the offensive efficiency and stability bringing six assist per game to the floor.
Tech backcourt rotation has been solid so far as a collective with Heath, Travis Jorgenson, and freshman Tadric Jackson combining for 14.6 points and eight assists through three games.
Georgia Tech could see Michigan State in this tournament depending on if they both win or lose tomorrow. That would put Brian Greogory against his former bench mate at Michigan State Tom Izzo. The Spartan will be facing Rider in their opening matchup.
Gregory was an assistant under Izzo in 2000 when the Spartans won the National Championship. Josh Heath’s father Stan Heath was also an assistant on that team.
This tournament has some great competition taking part in it. Besides Georgia Tech, Marquette, Rider and Michigan State being in the field, national powerhouse Kansas, as well as Tennessee, Rhode Island and Santa Clara are participating.
This game will tipoff at 8:30pm EST and can be seen on ESPN2. You can also listen to this game on the radio on 680AM and 93.7FM and on satellite radio Sirius 126 and XM 193.