ATLANTA — Georgia Tech has a new coach, a new – if only temporary – home arena and a mostly new team.
“It’s like a reset button,” said guard Mfon Udofia.
Brian Gregory is hoping the reset includes some new scoring for his debut as coach on tonight against Florida A&M.
Georgia, South Carolina and Clemson also open their seasons tonight.
Georgia Tech hired Gregory from Dayton in March after firing Paul Hewitt, who then was hired by George Mason. Gregory was 172-94 with two NCAA Tournament appearances in eight seasons at Dayton.
Georgia Tech’s first five home games will be played at Gwinnett Arena north of Atlanta. It will play its ACC home games at Philips Arena, home of the NBA Hawks, while Alexander Memorial Coliseum is being replaced. A new facility opens next season.
Gregory’s challenge is to revive a Georgia Tech program that played in the 2004 national championship game but managed to post a winning Atlantic Coast Conference record in only one of Hewitt’s 11 seasons. The Yellow Jackets were 5-11 in the ACC last season.
Finally, Georgia Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich decided the reset was necessary. The fresh start with Gregory has the returning players excited.
“Everyone is just so pumped up,” said sophomore Jason Morris. “Everyone is excited. The big thing right now is really just staying focused, not letting our emotions get the best of us. We’re so amped up to get this new year started and it’s here.”
Gregory said he likes the way his first Georgia Tech team is coming together. He said he’s just worried who will emerge as the scoring leaders. Georgia Tech lost its top scorer, Iman Shumpert, and two other starters from last season’s 13-18 team.
Morris and center Daniel Miller are the returning starters. Guard Glen Rice Jr., who averaged 12.8 points last season, is the leading returning scorer.