Game Notes: Georgia Tech at Miami
James Dews’ buzzard-beater doesn’t do Tech any Favors.
by Sam Guelil
It’s about an hour before game-time and both teams are finishing up their first of two pre-game shoot arounds. It’s completely empty in the stands. Let’s take into effect that the super bowl just concluded down here and we are in Miami. There is no shortage of things to do down in the 305. However, students and local hoops fans should be out here to support their University, and to see No. 20 Georgia Tech who has 6-10 stud freshman Derrick Favors. This would probably be their only chance to see this kid assuming he enters the NBA draft after this year. I’ve seen Favors play a few times in high school and he is the truth. Tech also has one of my favorite players in the country; 6-9 junior power forward Gani Lawal. Together the two form a San Antonio Spurs Twin Towers-like combo on the inside, when Tim Duncan and David Robinson played together a few years ago. Miami started the season off like gangbusters coming 8-0 out of the gate, but are just 2-7 in ACC play and losers in six of their last seven games. Talking with an old friend, who is an assistant at Miami now, you can tell this was a must win game and how serious this contest really was. Kenny Anderson, Desmond Howard, and a handful of NBA scouts were in the building for this one.
Georgia Tech came out aggressive and jumped out to an 8-0 lead. Favors picked up an early foul and so did Gani Lawal. The first TV timeout at 15:50 couldn’t come fast enough for the Miami Hurricanes. During the break the band was playing Bon Jovi’s Living On A Prayer. I started to wonder if this was how this night was going to be.
Miami coach Frank Haith found the answer during that timeout, and his name was Malcolm Grant. The 6-1 redshirt sophomore PG from Brooklyn, NY gave his team a much needed spark. Grant hit a couple of quick 3’s and a running floater to get his squad in this thing. His speed, jump shot, crossover, and ability to dribble penetrate was just too much for Georgia Tech’s big sophomore 6-5 PG Iman Shumpert who was guarding him initially.
I got a little upset because at the ten minute mark Derrick Favors picked up his second foul. Now he’s on the bench and watching like the 500 something people that were there. Miami immediately attacked the inside with Dwayne Collins who hit a three-point play the old fashion way. A James Dews jumper and that’s all Georgia Tech coach PaulHewitt needed to see, as he didn’t wait for the under 8 timeout and called one himself, Miami up 22-15.
The lead would stay around the same for a few minutes as both teams exchanged buckets as we went into the final 3:30 of the half.
Grant hit another three and the Canes were humming. Hewitt did a nice job of trying to steal Favors some minutes with some offense/defense substitutions, but Miami sprinted into their locker room up 41-27. Tech’s body language was awful as they walked slowly into theirs.
Hewitt had to have gotten into his team pretty good at the break because they came out playing hard. He actually told them that he thought they were playing “too cool.” 6-6 freshman Brian Oliver hit some shots, as he did all night, and defended well forcing a couple of turnovers. Grant started the half on the bench and that was a key in Georgia Tech’s run. He’s their best ball handler and facilitator of offense. Favors picked up another quick foul, his third, at the 18:17 mark and he still couldn’t find any type of rhythm. Gani Lawal played like a man possessed and refused to go down quietly. An Iman Shumpert bucket and we had a game at 43-35, timeout Miami.
Grant checks in and it’s no coincidence that with 12:50 to play they stretched their lead back up to 50-37. Paul Hewitt had to call another timeout.
6-5 freshman guard Glen Rice junior sparked a 7-0 run with a steal and 4 of his own points to get Georgia Tech back down into single digits at 50-44 with 11:32 left.
Dwayne Collins jammed one home on a put back from the weak side, but Oliver answered with a three-pointer of his own.
6-10 Miami redshirt freshman Reggie Johnson drew another foul on Favors, his fourth, with 6:18 left in the game. Hewitt had to be frustrated. Not having Favors on the court is like having a Ferrari but the wife only letting you take it to get milk from the store that’s just a few blocks away. You need that thing on the highway!
Gani Lawal was everywhere. Besides having 13 second half rebounds, drawing fouls, he stole the ball and finished in the open court with authority to get Tech back down six, 60-54 with 3:55 left in the ball game.
A Lawal free throw, and another Oliver three-ball, and we got ourselves a ballgame with 2:16 left and Miami trying to hang on for dear life.
Dwayne Collins stuffed another one home to go up 62-58 and the crowd erupted. Here’s my chance to call somebody out, and that somebody is the entire Miami crowd. That’s how they should have been the whole game. There were probably two or three Georgia Tech fans in the house and I could hear one of them the entire game. You can’t have that happen! Sorry, that concludes the venting portion of this piece, now back to the action.
Georgia Tech’s Iman Shumpert took the ball hard to the rack and got fouled with 20 seconds left on the clock. He calmly sunk both free throws and it was now a 2 point game. Tech quickly fouled senior James Dews and he missed the front-end of a 1-1. Lawal grabbed the board and here came Tech racing down the court. It was Shumpert again who tied the score at 62-62, for the first time since it was 15-15, with a tough right-handed layup in traffic. Miami called a timeout to get settled and draw something up.
Miami inbounded underneath their own basket and 6-5 freshman Durrand Scott went the length of the court. He then found James Dews off a double screen. He caught it, pump faked, which drew two defenders in the air. Dews took one dribble, rose up, and let it go as time was expiring…….straight buckets baby! Miami wins 64-62.
Like I said earlier, Malcolm Grant was the key for Miami tonight. He told me in post game press conference that he wanted to bring some energy to the table when he saw his team struggling early. That’s exactly what he did. Theirs not too many guys in the country that can stay in front of the Villanova transfer. He had 11 points and 5 assists in the first half, and although he went scoreless in the second, the team is just better with him on the court. Hewitt adjusted nicely by throwing four different guys on him and giving him some different looks. Miami shot the ball pretty well in the game. They also were clearly trying to take Favors out of the game and were successful in that.
Gani Lawal was by far the best player on the court tonight. 17 points, 18 rebounds, in 32 minutes is tremendous. He was everywhere and made me feel like his team was trying to avoid elimination from an NCAA tournament game. Favors had 6 points, 7 boards, and blocked 2 shots in only 21 minutes. He was never able to stay on the court for an extended period of time, therefore couldn’t really get it going. Brian Oliver shot it really well as he was 7-10 overall from the field and 5-8 from three. His timely buckets were a key in the Georgia Tech comeback. To me, this is a definite NCAA tournament team.
This game was loaded with potential pros. Miami is actually loaded with a lot of young talent. Malcolm Grant. Durrand Scott, Reggie Johnson, Julian Gamble, and DeQaun Jones (DNP) are either freshmen or sophomores. They all will have a chance to get paid to play at some level in the future. In this years draft you could hear Dwayne Collins name be called. For Georgia Tech it’s the same deal, a lot of young talent. Mfon Udofia, Iman Shumpert, Brian Oliver, and Glen Rice junior are all underclassmen who could earn some coin playing. But in this year’s draft, you’re sure to hear Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors names called. Let’s quickly breakdown the 2010 NBA Draft prospects.
Derrick Favors | 6-10 | 246 | PF | Georgia Tech | Freshmen
Favors or Kentucky’s DeMarcus Cousins are the best big men in this year’s potential class. Personally, I think Favors is more of a power forward as opposed to a center, but he could be able to play both positions in the League. Physically he is super impressive and imposing. He has kind of a Dwight Howard type build, with a frame to put on even more muscle. He has a crazy wingspan and great hands. He is an outstanding overall athlete and gets off the floor extremely quick. Favors runs the floor like a gazelle, but isn’t in tip-top shape right now, as he may have hit a little freshmen wall in ACC play. He has improved in the post since high school, where he used sheer brut strength to do damage. Favors has also developed better footwork since in college. He’ll need to develop those areas more for the NBA. Favors likes the elbow jumper and taking his guy on the perimeter when he’s not in the post. He’ll need to increase his handle to be more of a threat in the League. Down low is where he’ll get paid early and make the highlight reals. Authoritative dunks and being quicker and stronger than others his size should give him some early confidence to contribute. Defensively Favors is a shot blocker and can defend 4’s and 5’s. If Favors can develop consistency from the outside, a better handle, and slow down little in the post, well then you’re looking at a potential NBA All-Star. I project him as a top 5 pick should he come out for this year’s draft.
Gani Lawal | 6-9 | 234 | PF | Georgia Tech | Junior
Lawal tested the NBA waters last year, but they were a little too cold for his liking. The best thing about him is that he plays so hard, and you just can’t teach that type of effort. I believe he has a motor similar to a Kevin Garnett, without the cursing and smacking himself. He says he takes “flavors” from the games of Amare Stoudemire, Dwight Howard, as well KG. A very athletic player that gets most of his points off rebound put- backs and local shots in the paint. Lawal is a tremendous rebounder because of strength, length, and effort. Defensively he blocks shots and is very sound. He good enough footwork to hedge screens on pick and rolls and bother a smaller player momentarily. He is absolutely relentless and is going to be a great energy guy in the League. He is immovable on the block at the college level and thrives in a physical game. Lawal needs to improve his overall offensive game, especially his free throw shooting. This is a hard working kid with a great attitude. I project him to go in the first round at some point, anywhere from 17-30. This is a sleeper that may make some NBA GM’s regret passing up on him.
Dwayne Collins | 6-8 | 241 | PF | Miami | Senior
Collins has a strong frame and average size for NBA power forward, but with his wingspan plays bigger than 6-8. Not super explosive or athletic, but very strong and plays hard. He doesn’t really factor outside the painted area. He’ll have trouble defending today’s NBA power forwards since he lacks in the quickness department. He does get to line often and can finish after contact. His style of play may not be as effective with the scouting and the athletes in the League. I believe Collins needs to play lights out for the rest the year to really increase his stock. Right now I’m thinking, if he does get drafted, it would be in the second round. He may choose to go oversees and play.