October 22, 2009

Shumpert talks about the upcoming GT season

The Georgia Tech basketball team has high expectations for the 2009-10 season and one of the key players is point guard Iman Shumpert. Jacketsonline talked to Shumpert on Thursday about the upcoming season and the type of basketball fans should expect to see this season from the Jackets.

How do you like the new practice facility?

"I like it a lot and it definitely makes you want to come in here and work hard. We are just seeing the new parts of the facility and everyone is excited about it."

Is this something you would have like to have seen as a recruit?

"I think it would have been nice, but as long as we got it, we got it. I am sure it will be easier for the coaches to bring recruits in and show them this facility and the locker room. I think it is more appealing. I think we could have got the same caliber of players with a regular gym too."

How excited are you about this season and the talent level?

"I am extremely excited. The best part of it all is that everyone is healthy. Maurice Miller was the only guy we were waiting on because of the concussion. Kammeon Holsey was a blow, but for the most part we have two people at every position. We got a lot of guys that play hard and everyone plays hard and gives their best effort."

What are your thoughts on Derrick Favors?

"He is good."

Do you have to think twice going down the lane with him and Gani Lawal in there?

"I know if I have to go down there, I have to be pretty aggressive and all business. Those two together make it hard to score around the basket. Knowing that Favors in there changes so many shots and Gani changes shots, so with Gani and Favors in there, you are doing a lot of circus shots trying to score on them or you have to try and dunk. Not many people can do that."

What is it like playing with three guys on the court at a time that can handle ball?

"Mfon Udofia is a tough guard who is extremely quick. He can stay low. He likes to try things and is very aggressive a lot like me. He will try new stuff, but I took him under my wing because I had a couple of turnovers last year that were pretty dumb. I have been telling him about shuffle passes in the lane and stuff like that. He is all ears to what I am telling him, so I don't think he will have that turnover problem I had last year."

What are your thoughts on Glen Rice Jr.?

"I have matched up with him a little bit, but I am running primarily all point guard. Me, Mu (Mfon) and Mo (Miller) all have to know every position on the wing, so when I do get on the wing I go against Glen and he can really score the ball. He could get a little bigger, but he can really score and has a knack for scoring."

Will you spend most of your time at the point?

"That is my primary position and I knew that coming in."

How nice is it having two low post guys to dump the ball into when you are running the point?

"The beauty of it, is that it makes my job a lot easier and Lance Storrs' job a lot easier, D'Andre's job a lot easier. Zachery can come in and play three, because he knows he has two big guys. You don't have to worry so much when you are guarding a guy, saying I can't let him get to the basket or get a foul on this guy. Having a couple of big guys off the bench, we know we can play a little more aggressive up top. It makes us more comfortable."

How important is that shot blocking aspect?

"You see how important it is when you actually see someone try to shoot a layup on Gani or Derrick. You see how important it is when you see how fast it gets pinned to the glass. It is a block, outlet and we are gone! I am really excited about it and I want to see that happen in the game."

Do you think that defensive aspect will be big in the close games this year because you lost most of those close ones last year?

"Yes, that and free throw shooting."

With all this talent, what kind of tempo do you see this team playing?

"I think we can play a little of all speeds. We can push it, which is what we like to do in transition. We want to have a little more excitement this year and free reign. If need be, we have a mature enough team especially with D'Andre coming back, to slow it down. I did not know how it matter until you see him get the ball. He slows things down and has a good awareness of the shot clock. We have Zach who has been here four years, so it is nice to have a stable of guys that speak up all the time in practice and in games. You can feel if need be we can slow it down to win it at the end of a game and we want to play fast which is what we want to do, then we will play fast. It is the best of both worlds."

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