Kammeon Holsey will be one of Georgia Tech's most aggressive scorers this season in the post.
ATHENS — Georgia Tech’s big men may be the team’s best hopes for improved scoring in coach Brian Gregory’s second season.
The Yellow Jackets, who were picked to finish ninth in the ACC this year, were 11-20 last season, including a 4-12 record in the conference, in Gregory’s debut. Georgia Tech ranked 313th in the nation by scoring only about 60 points per game. The team opens its new $50 million arena, McCamish Pavilion, against Tulane tonight. The new arena was built under the roof of the old Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
Center Daniel Miller and power forward Kammeon Holsey provided consistent scoring late last season.
Miller scored in double figures in eight of his last 10 games last season. Holsey had 10 or more points in six of his last nine games.
“They’ve worked extremely hard,” Gregory said. “They’ve gotten strong and more physical, which will help. We’re counting on them, as juniors now, to be really good ACC players.”
Georgia Tech returns all five starters. Miller (6-foot-11, 257 pounds) and Holsey (6-8, 231) were the only two who started every game.
Miller averaged 8.1 points and 6.5 rebounds.
“I feel like at the end of the season we were doing a lot better with that,” Miller said of the team’s inside scoring. “Kam Holsey I think is one of the best offensive posts in the league. We’ve just got to get the ball inside more and just go to our moves.”
Holsey, a more aggressive scorer than Miller, had 9.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.
“Our chemistry got so much better,” Holsey said of this season. “Daniel is a big target. He made me better and we made each other better. We have two guys down there who can work together when we go into attack mode.”
Gregory said Miller needs to pick up some of Holsey’s scoring mentality.
“We joke around with Daniel that he needs a little more Kam in him. Kam sometimes gets the ball in the post, and it’s the black hole,” the coach said. “That thing ain’t coming out, which is fine for the most part. We’re constantly talking to Daniel about being more aggressive in terms of scoring. He’s such a good passer, I think he really enjoys getting shots for other people passing the ball.”
Two 6-8 forwards, sophomore Julian Royal and freshman Robert Carter of Thomasville, add more size.
Point guard Mfon Udofia, a senior, is the leading returning scorer with his 9.9 points per game.
The other returning starters are guards Jason Morris and Brandon Reed. Leading scorer Glen Rice Jr. was dismissed from the team last year.
Gregory said his freshmen, including Carter and guards Chris Bolden and Marcus Georges-Hunt, “are physically ready to play in this level, which is unique among freshmen.”
Gregory said he isn’t expecting a dramatic offensive upswing this season because his focus on defense sets a lower scoring pace.
“Honestly, because of the way we defense, we’re never going to be scoring 85 points a game,” Gregory said.
More often, the Yellow Jackets were held under 60 points in ACC games. Georgia Tech averaged only 58.6 points in conference regular-season games, a record low for Georgia Tech in the shot-clock era.
Tech was without a true home court last year. It played its home conference games at Philips Arena in downtown Atlanta, the home of the NBA Hawks, and used the Gwinnett Arena near Atlanta as its other home while its on-campus facility was being rebuilt.
Most of last season’s games felt like road trips. The team stayed at a hotel even when playing at the Gwinnett Arena. It wasn’t an ideal scenario, but Gregory said it wasn’t the reason his team struggled to score.
“I’ll be honest with you, the venue didn’t have anything to do with our shooting woes,” he said. “We played better and defended better and shot better on the road than we did at home, and we never practiced at those arenas.”