BTB Mailbag: 4/14/17

Ben Carlisle, Publisher
Bleed Tech Blue
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Sutton Davison

If you had to compare Tech to a pro sports franchise, which would it be? ---Will P.

I like this question, let’s do it in terms of football. For the Tech football program, let’s look at the last 15 years, I would compare them to the Cincinnati Bengals. Two teams that have generally been pretty good. Have there been seasons of less than stellar play? Absolutely. Have there been division championships in the Bengals case and conference championships/bowl games in Tech’s case? Absolutely. The two major similarities between the two? They just haven’t been able to get over the hump and take the next step. In the Bengals case, win a playoff game, get to the Super Bowl. In Tech’s case, win conference championships consistently and finally win 10 games. That said, with the direction that the program is headed under the leadership of Skip Holtz, I think the program gets over that hump in the near future. How soon? I’ve predicted that 2017 will be the year the ‘Dogs win ten games and a Conference USA Championship.

With the season that Nate Harris is putting together, is he the best pitcher in the country? --- James P.

Yes. I would take him over anyone in the country right now. I’ve seen a lot of baseball over the years and I have yet to see someone at the collegiate level compete like he does. Every time he is on the mound, the Diamond Dogs have a different swagger about themselves. When you consider pitchers who have at least 40 innings pitched he ranks the following: ERA-1st, WHIP-1st, K:BB-6th, BB per 9IP-19th, Saves-15th, hits per 9IP-10th. These are the major statistics in college baseball and he is top 20 in the country in every single on of them. Oh yeah, he has started two games as well and thrown two complete game shutouts. I would dare say that he is putting together one of the best seasons in the history of college baseball. He is doing all of this with a fastball that doesn’t break 90MPH. How does he do it? He commands the baseball within the strike zone and he believes in himself. Talk to Nate Harris and he’ll tell you he’s the best pitcher in the country, and he’s proving it every time he toes the rubber.

How do the Tech basketball signees of this year compare to the ones in Mike White’s last class of Joniah White, Dayon Griffin, Xavien Stapleton, and Jacobi Boykins? ---alphalfa7972

Eric Konkol and his staff have signed four players in this year’s recruiting period. Exavian Christon, Amorie Archibald, Anthony Duruji, and junior college signee Harrison Curry make up the signing class. Christon and Archibald are two guards that can really score the basketball. Christon is a shooting guard, while Archibald is a combo-guard that can run the point. Welcoming in these two should give Tech five quality guards competing for playing time during the 2017-2018 season. The third signee is 6’8” forward Anthony Duruji. While he is long and athletic, he is still a bit raw on the offensive end; he can guard multiple positions defensively and has shown the ability to be a good shot blocker. The fourth and final signee is Harrison Curry; Curry is a JUCO forward who is expected to come in and contribute right away. He can really stretch the floor with his shooting ability and will look to help Tech offset the loss of Erik McCree. In comparison to Joniah White, Dayon Griffin, Xavian Stapleton, and Jacobi Boykins, obviously none of these four possess the same athletic ability of Stapleton, but all bring their own quality skills to the table. Duruji and Curry will be much further along offensively than White was as a freshmen, as his offensive game was pretty much non-existent. While Duruji will block shots, he will not be the true rim protector that White is. Christon and Archibald should also contribute much more than Griffin and Boykins did as freshmen. Griffin took some time to develop, whereas Boykins had a hard time truly cracking the rotation on such a veteran team. Christon and Archibald will not shoot it as well as Boykins, but they can score the ball in a multitude of ways. This year’s class is more talented than the final Mike White class and I believe that it will show during the 2017-2018 season. Coach Konkol has brought in four guys that really fit his system and can contribute right away.

With Price Wilson transferring and Tech only having three QBs, both of which are young, do you see Tech bringing in a transfer QB to act as a mentor/backup to the young guys or does the staff have enough faith in J’Mar Smith, Jack Abraham and Elijah Walker to not bring in an experienced guy? ---SeekerHound

Price Wilson made his decision public yesterday, announcing his intentions to transfer. Wilson spent three years at Tech, seeing action in four games. On the surface his loss doesn’t seem to be a back breaker, but when you consider his experience in the offense it could potentially be significant. J’Mar Smith, Jack Abraham, and incoming freshmen Elijah Walker now make up the quarterback depth chart that QB coach Tim Rattay has to work with. Jon Randall Belton a 2016 QB signee, has been shifted to inside receiver. Will Tech now be in the market for a 5th year transfer at QB considering a redshirt sophomore, redshirt freshmen, and true freshmen make up the QB room? This is certainly something worth discussing, but the job is clearly J’Mar Smith’s heading into the season barring injury, so Tech will in all likelihood stick with what they have. Smith is trending towards being the next great QB to come through Ruston, while Jack Abraham has learned the offense at a rapid rate and looked very comfortable in his first spring. Walker, a dual-threat QB, will be here this summer. Barring injury, all signs point towards Walker taking a redshirt in 2017. While losing Wilson hurts, I can’t see Tech going out looking for a fifth year transfer, J’Mar Smith will lead the Bulldogs in 2017. In regards to fifth year transfers at other positions, Tech hosted an intriguing one this past Saturday at the spring game. Find out the latest here: 5th year transfer visits Tech.

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Brian Edwards Sports

Paul Millsap has obviously been a great pro making four all star games, what are the chances he ends up in the Hall of Fame? ---Jake S.

This is certainly an interesting question that I have thought about a lot myself. Millsap has turned in a nice career in the NBA over the past 11 years. Early on in his time in Utah he was a sixth man off the bench, but then carved out a starting role and has never looked back. In four years in Atlanta, Millsap has been a NBA All-Star four times. Did I mention that he is one of the best defenders in the league? Paul nearly won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award in 2015-2016. Now let’s take a look at his numbers, for his career he’s averaging roughly 14 points and eight rebounds a night. Good numbers, but not Hall of Fame caliber. Having scored just under 12,000 points in his career, he needs to get to the 20,000 mark. If he can get to the 20,000 point plateau he’ll give himself a shot. Mix in three or four more all-star games, an NBA Championship, continue to be one of the leagues premier defenders and he’ll be in the conversation most certainly. Winning a title in Atlanta will be extremely difficult, but Paul will be a free agent this offseason and will have the opportunity to choose his destination. As of now, Paul has had a good NBA career but is not a Hall of Famer.

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