Georgia Tech Basketball: Yellow Jackets Ready to Squeeze the Syracuse Orange


If anyone wondered why fans of Georgia Tech Basketball (9-4, 0-1 ACC) had concerns about how Brian Gregory’s team was performing against zone defenses, Wednesday’s game against the Syracuse Orange (10-4, 1-0 ACC ) is part of the reason why.

Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim, has been running that same 2-3 zone at Syracuse since the Gerald Ford Administration — 39 years in the business, 958 wins, 324 loses.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets /

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Coach Boeheim could bump his head on a kitchen cabinet door, and that would only cost him one diagramed play from his 39 year old playbook.

In 2015, the Syracuse 2-3 zone has evolved into one that has size and length, especially along the baseline.

The Orange are holding opponents to 58.4 points per game and 37.3% shooting from the field.

Offensively, Syracuse is not that bad either scoring 70.2 points per game. A big reason for the production is the play of 6-foot-9, 250 pound, senior forward, Rakeem Christmas.

Christmas is definitely on the list for All-ACC honors with his 17.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 62.2% field goal shooting.

Trevor Cooney is Syracuse’s top backcourt player averaging 13.4 points on 38.4% shooting, with freshman Kaleb Joseph setting the table for the Orange at 7.1 points and 5.1 assists.

Last year, the Jackets went on the road against the Syracuse Orange and defeated them 67-62 in the Carrier Dome. That game marked the first time that Georgia Tech and Syracuse had ever met as members of the ACC.

Wednesday’s game will be played at McCamish Pavilion, and marks the first time these two teams will face each other on the Georgia Tech campus.

Brian Gregory’s team matches up very well with Syracuse because the Jackets have size in the frontcourt with Charles Mitchell, Demarco Cox, and Robert Sampson.

Tech’s has more experience at the point with Josh Heath and Travis Jorgenson than Syracuse does with Kaleb Joseph.

Factor in that Georgia Tech is playing better against the zone, and the Jackets have a really good shot at getting Syracuse again.

The key to this game is going to be the battle on the boards. Syracuse is one of the best rebounding teams in the ACC at 42.7 boards per contest. They have grabbed 184 offensive rebounds on the year which is sixth in the ACC.

Tech meanwhile is sitting second in the ACC at 43.8 rebounds per game, and third in offensive boards at 195 total boards. Whoever cleans the boards the best could dictate the outcome.

Brian Gregory spoke on the potential rebounding battle that could take place versus Syracuse when he spoke to the press in the following video from the Georgia Tech Athletic Channel on You Tube:

It’s seems that Brian Gregory’s adjustment against opponents who zone his squad up is to attack their zone.

He has told his team to use dribble penetration to get into the middle, and also the team does not seem as reluctant to try to force the ball into the post against it.

Coach Gregory has not  been afraid to switch his starting lineups. Chris Bolden has been in the starting lineup the last couple of games and it has worked out pretty nice.

For this game, Coach Gregory will want to have Bolden’s trigger on the floor from deep, with Marcus Georges-Hunt on the opposite wing.

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But will Gregory elect to go with Robert Sampson, who can stretch the floor at from the post, or will he go with Cox along side Mitchell, staying traditional to bang the boards and possibly get Rakeem Christmas in foul trouble?

That is the beauty of this year’s edition of Georgia Tech Basketball. There is so much versatility and players that are interchangeable, that Coach Gregory can have his team prepped for any situation.

This game will be televised on ESPNU starting at 7  EST.