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Scouting Report: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

The Ramblin’ Wreck of Georgia Tech enter this evening’s game with a record of 4-3.  They opened the season with a rare early November ACC game and defeated NC State by one point in overtime.  Since then, Georgia Tech has lost to two SEC opponents, Georgia and Arkansas, and are coming off a 34-point loss at home against ACC foe Syracuse.  The Yellow Jackets are playing without starting Point Guard, and last season’s leading scorer, Jose Alvarado who suffered an ankle injury against Georgia.  Alvarado was shooting to return tonight, but his timetable has been pushed back a couple of weeks.  This has tightened up an already short rotation for Coach Josh Pastner’s team.  They are essentially only playing 7 guys now with an 8th getting spot minutes.  Between their hybrid Princeton-Chin offense and a 1-3-1 matchup zone defense Coach Pastner has a pretty complicated scheme on both ends of the court.  Let’s dive in and break down the Yellow Jackets.



#0 Michael Devoe:  6’5″ 193 lbs, Sophomore Guard

21.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.6 apg

Lefty.  Combo Guard.  Scorer!  Shooter.  No 3’s.  Shooting 52.9% from 3 but drives it more than he shoots it from outside.  Have to take away any catch-and-shoot 3’s and also have to be close enough to keep him from taking in-rhythm 3’s off the dribble.  Likes to get a rhythm dribble in his right hand before pulling up.  No left hand drives!  Get over the ballscreens and handoffs.  Chase him off screens.  Uses his size to get shots off around the basket when he drives.  If he catches it inside off the Flex screen he wants to score with his left hand over his right shoulder or face-up and shoot the J.  Not super quick, but plays with really good pace and is long enough to finish over you.  Have to be ready to guard the drive.  He is always thinking about scoring and getting to the paint.  Stay between him and the basket and get your hands up to contest.  Have to contest everything!  Likes to shoot the pull-up J’s and floaters.  No help off of him when he doesn’t have it.  Find him in transition if he isn’t bringing it.  Make him work for everything he gets.

#11 Bubba Parham:  5’10” 160 lbs, Junior Guard

7.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.1 apg

Shooter!  No 3’s!!!  Not shooting a good percentage, but 30 of his 51 shots have been 3’s.  Have to be there to take away the catch-and-shoot 3’s.  Find him in transition.  Do not help off of when he doesn’t have it.  Chase him off all screens.  Get over any ballscreens and handoffs they set for him.  Make him score with you between him and the basket.  Once you take away the 3 be ready for him to drive it right and get to a pull-up or floater.  No right hand drives.  Be ready for him to bring it up the court almost half of the time and initiate the offense.  Get the ball stopped when he is coming in transition.

#12 Khalid Moore:  6’7″ 203 lbs, Sophomore Forward

6.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3 apg

Long, athletic wing.  More of a driver than a shooter.  No right hand drives!  Closeout to stay between him and the basket.  We can adjust and closeout a little more aggressively if he makes a couple.  Be in help off of him when he doesn’t have it.  Stuff the driving lanes for #0 Devoe when you are guarding Moore.  Help guard against the lob to Banks III on the roll if you are guarding Moore.  Thinking about driving right as soon as he catches it.  No layups for him.  Make him score over you.  Good passer.  Will make plays for others when he drives it.  Very bad free throw shooter.  Foul if you are beat.  No And-1s.

#5 Moses Wright:  6’9″ 230 lbs, Junior Forward

12.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg

Strong, athletic forward.  No right hand drives!  Closeout short to stay between him and the basket.  Help off of him when he doesn’t have it on the perimeter.  In the post, he is looking to score over his left shoulder with his right hand.  All right hand around the basket!  Likes to use the shot fake to lift you and get a better angle to finish.  Will face-up and use his quickness to try and drive it or set up a spin move.  Just get a hand up to contest if he shoots the face-up J.  Do your work early and make him catch it off the block when he does post up.  High percentage finisher around the rim, but those percentages go down the further from the block he has to catch it.  Bad free throw shooter.  Foul if you are beat.  No And-1s.

#1 James Banks III:  6’10” 250 lbs, Senior Center

11.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 4.0 bpg

Shot blocker.  Long and solid athlete.  Right hand, left shoulder in the post.  Be physical with him and get him off the block.  Make him score over you.  Really good at catching it on the roll.  They will throw it up to him and let him jump up and dunk it.  He wants to finish with a dunk.  Not a great finisher you are between him and the basket.  We have to play with our hands up on the ball screen to deter that pass and really drop into help off of non-shooters to take away the lob on the roll.  Have to box him out.  Great offensive rebounder.  Averaging 3 offensive rebounds per game.  Outstanding shot blocker.  Be ready to play off of two feet.  Use shot fakes around the basket.


#23 Asanti Price:  6’5″ 177 lbs, Freshman Guard

3.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg

Shooter!  No 3’s!  Be there to take away the catch-and-shoot 3’s.  Not shooting a good percentage, but 22 of his 33 shots have been 3’s.  Wants to catch-and-shoot.  Do not help off of him.  Find him in transition.  Have to chase him off of screens.  Tighten up to him as the ball comes towards you.  Once you take away the 3, be ready for the right hand drive.  Very athletic.

#3 Evan Cole:  6’10” 226 lbs, Junior Forward 

5.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg

Big, strong post.  Moves pretty well.  Runs the floor hard.  Will catch it away from the basket and drive it right.  No right hand drives.  When he gets it in the post he is looking to score over his left shoulder with his right hand.  Will face-up and shoot the little J or try and drive it right on you.  Contest it if he shoots the J.  Be physical and get him off the block.  Not an outstanding finisher.  Just wall up and make him score with you between him and the basket.  Box out!

#5 Shembari Phillips:  6’4″ 210 lbs, Redshirt Senior Guard

Strong, veteran guard.  Shooter!  No 3’s!!!  All 6 of his shots have been 3’s.  Have to be there to take away the catch-and-shoot.  Once you take away the shot he will look to drive it right.  No right hand drives.  Primarily in there to defend and facilitate offensively.  Don’t help off of him.  Chase off of screens.  Find him in transition.  Only going to hurt us if we lose him on the perimeter and let him catch-and-shoot.


Their base offense is from the Princeton “Chin” series.  They have a few different actions that they like to get to from this series.  Also, they will set a lot of Flat Ballscreens for #0 Devoe at the top of the key and let him work off the ballscreen.  A lot of times when they do go Flat they will have a guard start with his head under the rim and he will set a back screen for the roll man and pop out to the top of the key as Devoe, or whoever is coming off the ballscreen, drives it.  Anytime they get into a side ballscreen they are very good at throwing the lob up to #1 Banks III on the roll.

Chin-Flex:  There will be some pre-movement to get the ball side-to-side but eventually the ball will be up top and a forward will cut up the lane line to get a catch at the elbow.  Point Guard will cut to the ballside block as the ball is reversed to the wing.  Point Guard sets the Flex screen and the forward comes down to screen-the-screener.  In the clip below, they are able to hit Cole off the cross screen because the switch happens slow. Devoe is coming off the downscreen.  Depending on who is coming off the cross screen they may reject it to just come straight off the downscreen.  Both Devoe and Parham will do this instead of coming off the cross screen, though Devoe will try and post up some too.

Chin-Up Screen:  This will start off exactly like the Flex, but after the Point Guard cuts towards the rim he will turn and set a screen for the forward and then pop to the top of the key.  They definitely will throw it inside to Wright, Banks III, or Cole, but they really like to just hit Devoe at the top and let him drive it.  Below he completely smokes the defender with a straight line drive to his left.

Chin-Split Ballscreen:  After the same pre-movement as the above actions, the Point Guard will hit the elbow and cut over top of the ball towards the corner as the guard in the corner starts to come higher.  As the two guards meet each other they will “split.”  One will back cut to the rim and the other will pop.  If they can’t hit the back cutter the forward will hit the guard that popped and will run into a ballscreen.  Usually this will be Devoe and Parham coming together, but it could be any guards in those positions.

Alley Ballscreen:  Their favorite offensive set to run outside of their Chin series is an “Alley” ballscreen.  What they like to do is have a guard, in this instance Devoe, set the first ballscreen and then roll to the front of the rim.  As this happen, a forward will “replace” up and set a second ballscreen for the ball handler and Devoe will now be the “replace” guy coming up.  This forces the defense to stay tight on the replace as opposed to staying in to help on the roll.  As you can see here, they are able to throw the lob up to Banks III for a slam.  They throw it to him on the roll a lot.  Anytime we are guarding a guy on the perimeter that is a non-shooter we have to get all the way into the paint to help on the roll.  Also, the on-ball defender needs to have his hands up to make this pass as difficult as possible.  This isn’t bad defense here, but #2 for Arkansas should have continued to give ground when shadowing the ball screen for another step or two and it probably would have taken the lob away.


They are going to primarily be in a 1-3-1 zone.  They get very extended on the wings and will try and trap the corners quite a bit when the ball is moved there.  They don’t come out super high with their “chaser” (top player in the 1-3-1) like a lot of teams, but instead deny the wings more with their defensive wings.  In the “warrior” position (bottom player in the 1-3-1) is Banks III.  Typically, this is a more agile player because they have to cover both corners running back and forth.  For them, they almost funnel the ball in towards Banks when it goes to the corner because he is such a dominate defensive presence.

There are some matchup principles to their 1-3-1.  Especially when the ball is above the free throw line extended they will matchup on the ball and almost “shadow” the ball with another defender to really deter dribble penetration.  If we can’t pass it into the high post area, they set up their defense to force all dribble penetration to come from below the free throw line extended to allow for potential traps and to funnel you towards Banks III who is averaging 4 blocks per game.

In this first clip, you see how they trap when the ball goes to the short corner.  This is especially effective for them because the trap involves the 6’10” Banks III and the  6’10” Cole.  Also, see how as the guard dribbles the ball back to the top of the key and tried to reverse it to the left wing, the wing defender jumped out high to deny the pass.  In a more traditional 1-3-1 zone the “chaser” up top would have his shoulders turned towards the base line, be up higher on the ball, and would be in the passing lane to try and deny that pass.  Once the trap comes, Arkansas is able to pass out quickly but the Razorback ball handler makes the mistake of driving it right back where it came from and attempted to split the 6’5″ Devoe and the 6’10” Cole leading to a turnover.  Basketball is difficult when the ball never changes sides of the floor and Georgia Tech did a great job of keeping the ball on a side here.

This second clip is more of a showcase of the dominance of Banks III at the rim.  The defense flattens out as the ball is passed back and forth up top.  When the ball hits the corner the wing defender starts to chase him down and almost funnel him into Banks III (the corner would typically be the “warriors” coverage).  Seeing the shot blocker, the Arkansas ball handler defers to passing it out.  They then almost immediately get a paint touch by one of their leading scorers who is great inside, but he doesn’t even look at the rim after feeling Banks III on his hip.  Again, the ball is kicked out and re-driven and they end up missing a floater over the long, out-stretched arms of Banks III.  Having him to defend at the back of the 1-3-1 makes this a very tough defense to score against.

Keys to the Game

  • No 3’s for #0, #11, #23, or #5.  Only #0 Devoe is shooting a good percentage, but the other three guys just want to catch-and-shoot.  We have to stay tight, not lose them, not help too much off of them, and really limit their 3-point attempts.  Have to contest everything on #0.
  • No layups out of “Chin” series.  They aren’t as backdoor heavy as a more traditional Princeton offense, but there is still a lot of back screening and some back cutting in their Chin series.  When guarding this type of offense you actually WANT your guy to have the ball because that is when it is easiest to know where he is.  Do not give up easy buckets without making them earn it.
  • Straight line drives and open 3’s.  In order to penetrate and score against the 1-3-1 we need to move the ball quickly on the perimeter.  We cannot be stagnant and hold it.  When you catch it you need to be thinking shot, straight line drive, and then be ready to immediately move it ahead.  We have to try and get a ball reversal, have the ball touch both sides of the floor, each possession to shift their defense and then attack the gaps.  Be ready to catch-and-shoot open 3’s in the corners.
  • Play off two feet around the rim.  Banks III is an outstanding defender and he impacts the game even more than his 4 blockers per game indicate.  We have to be great at being on balance, using a shot fake, and being ready to make the extra pass at the end of our drives.



Article written by Brandon Ramsey