Helluva helluva helluva helluva helluva blog team at From The Rumble Seat.
Year Two under Brian Gregory seemed like a step forward from Year One. How does your fan base feel about last year's results?
I think most were satisfied. We were sort of expecting a few growing years after parting ways with Hewitt. That being said, Tech fans have high expectations for their teams and always expect better. We lost a lot of close games that were are "make or break" for the season.. Unfortunately it was a break and we didn't see a post-season. After a sub .500 season in 2012, Gregory's ability to have a winning season in 2013 was very refreshing and kept fans hopeful for the future. I think the consensus is that Tech fans are hopeful for the upcoming year. I personally have believed in Gregory since day 1 and I think that he has continually taken steps forward. He's made a ton of great recruiting and transfer moves and you can see him beginning to develop his own program.
What's the biggest piece you've lost since last season?
Experience and Leadership. Mfon Udofia, Brandon Reed, Pierre Jordan. All of these guys were tried ACC guards. While Mfon wasn't always the most consistent PG, he was reliable to lead the team. It was never a question of who was going to be the "go to" ball handler in a tough situation. Now, we have some hopeful guards that are lacking some experience to really be trusted. But hey, freshmen break through all over the nation each year. Maybe it is Tech's year to have a breakout year for a newcomer. We shall see. We are very deep in the guard position so I think we will find a fit somewhere.
Who is the player who needs to step up the most this year?
Well if we want a successful season (which I define below), then a few need to step up. First off Trae Golden got his waiver to play so he needs to step up. He will be our starting PG and he will need to lead this team against a very strong ACC. He was very successful in the SEC so we can now see how SEC players fair in the ACC.
The other two players that really need to step up is Marcus Georges-Hunt and Robert Carter Jr- well step up again I guess. They impressed last season and need to hit the ground running in 2013-2014. They accepted the challenge and were the Jackets two leading scorers in 2013. They were then awarded with U19 US National team tryouts this summer. These young guys are looking to carry the Jackets again this season.
Who is the player UVa fans ought to look out for the most?
This is a hard one for me. I think UVa is very strong in the post, especially if everyone stays healthy. For this reason, I don't think Daniel Miller or Robert Carter Jr. are going to be the struggle for the Cavaliers. One player that has really troubled high quality ACC teams is Chris Bolden. He has to miss the first 3 games of the season per team punishments, but I expect him to start every ACC game. He scored his two highest scoring games against Tech's two hardest opponents (20 vs. Duke, 21 vs. Miami) in 2013. He also led the Jackets in steals with 19. I can see UVa focusing on containing him and his explosive ability. Look out for him!!
What's your outlook for the season? What's a success, what's a failure, and what's something you can live with?
I see our upcoming sophomores, Carter Jr, Georges-Hunt and Bolden, along with the dominating center Daniel Miller to lead this team to better season than 2013. Trae Golden is a great addition that has been very impressive from what I have been able to see so far. That is a solid starting 5 that is supported by other quality players. I see the Jackets being underrated this season. I think they will surprise a lot of people in 2014.
One thing that Gregory hasn't been able to do is string two ACC wins back to back. That is something that needs to happen this season for it to be a success. But he can't just win two games. I think a successful season would be a 20 win season, which I think would result in the Jackets making the NCAA Tournament. Success in the ACC would be to go .500 in the ACC. A failure would be not doing as well as last season, a .500 overall season. As for what I could live with, I guess it would have to be anywhere from 15 to 20 total wins. That all being said, I think the Jackets have the ability to be a strong competitor in the strongest conference in the nation. I am looking forward to the season.