Favors, freshmen fan Tech basketball fervor

'Definitely a lot of excitement,' guard Shumpert says of team's eagerness to play

Excitement. Smiles. Special.

Talking to the veterans on Tech's men's basketball team, those are a few of the words they use to describe how much they are looking forward to this upcoming season.

The frustration of last year's 12-19 campaign has been replaced by an eagerness fueled by the intensity of the pick-up games the players are in three days a week at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

Tech's heralded freshman class, and what they are doing in those pick-up games, is fanning that fervor.

"Definitely a lot of excitement," point guard Iman Shumpert said. "We've got a lot of young guys that are ready to play. They are all motivated, wanting to help, listening."

Coach Paul Hewitt won't allow the freshmen to talk until they've played in a game at Tech, but the upperclassmen had plenty to say after the pick-up games:

[bullet] Forward Derrick Favors (6-10, 234): "He's already got some 'oohs' and 'aahs' out of us," Shumpert said.

"Seeing him on the fast break, and somebody tried to contest him..." forward Zachery Peacock said, adding, "that's just amazing man."

[bullet] Forward Kammeon Holsey (6-8, 199): "He's real skilled at the four," Peacock said. "All he has to do is work on getting a little stronger."

[bullet] Point guard Mfon Udofia (6-2, 175): "You're talking about a kid that goes no matter what," Peacock said. "I think if his head was chopped off his body he would still be able to get up and function."

[bullet] Center Daniel Miller (7-0, 240): "You wouldn't expect what comes out of him," Shumpert said. "He's quiet, always trying to learn. He's smart, he's setting back screens. Really skilled, really smart, learning how to play."

[bullet] Guard Glen Rice Jr. (6-5, 194): "When he's running, it doesn't look like he's going that fast and then he touches the ball and he's a completely different person," Shumpert said. "It caught me by surprise."

[bullet] Forward Brian Oliver (6-6, 222): "He knows how to score," Shumpert said. "Once his conditioning gets tight, he's going to be a good player. Not afraid to put it up, at all. There's not a shot he doesn't like."

Peacock said he can't do anything but smile when he thinks about the potential for this season and the depth that Tech will have. The roster could conceivably be one of the deepest in the country with the addition of the five freshmen, not to mention having D'Andre Bell back after he had to miss last season with an injured spine.

"I can imagine the starters will have a lot more energy to finish games," Peacock said. "Knowing that they can take that rest and when they take that rest you're not falling behind. You've got somebody out there filling the slack."

Shumpert said he can see Tech being deep enough to change its lineup each game based upon matchups. More importantly, he said no one is going to complain if they don't start.

"People just want to win. Our mentality is finally on the same page," Shumpert said. "Something with the season we had, after the season it brought us all closer."