Following Georgia Tech’s 73-67 win over Duquesne Tuesday night at McCamish Pavilion, Tech coach Brian Gregory gave backup center Ben Lammers one of the more unusual compliments I’ve heard him dole out.
“That’s the best one-basket performance I’ve seen in 26 years of coaching,” Gregory said. “He played extremely well.”
Lammers was hard to miss. Coming off the bench, Lammers played 15 minutes, gathering five points, six rebounds, three blocks and an assist. That didn’t count shots he challenged that missed and effective switches onto much smaller players and smart plays like a pass out of the post to guard Adam Smith on the perimeter. Smith took the pass and then drove to the basket, drawing attention that led to a feed back to Lammers for a dunk, his one basket of the game.
It was the sort of instant-energy impact you’d want from a sub.
“I guess it was just my day,” he said. “Things were going well for me. I just kind of rolled with it.”
A little background on Lammers – he’s a 6-foot-10 sophomore from San Antonio. His skillset lends him to playing from the high post. He is an effective passer; his eight assists are most among the four bigs, along with Charles Mitchell, Nick Jacobs and James White. That’s despite the fact that Lammers has played 183 minutes, compared to 195 for White, 276 for Jacobs and 349 for Mitchell. He said Tuesday that he has learned a lot from assistant coach Mamadou N'Diaye, who primarily works with the front-court players.
He averaged 5.9 minutes as a freshman in 19 games, with his body and game adjusting to college basketball. He is a mechanical engineering major. Gregory is very high on him.
“The kid has a chance to be a hell of a player,” Gregory said after the game.
Any replication of Lammers’ performance on Tuesday would be a big help for the Jackets, particularly if he and White both can be consistently effective off the bench. It would be perhaps a little naïve to think that’ll happen, first because the level of competition will drastically improve and also because no one plays at his peak every game.
As Lammers himself noted in talking about a rule change that permits defensive players to use an arm bar to offer resistance to an offensive player in the post, "I'm 230, so I'm not a small guy, but when I'm going up against 6-10, 6-11, 250, I'm still at a disadvantage, so (the arm bar) gives me a little bit of an upper hand on defense."
That said, Lammers has had the look of a player who could be noticeably better by the beginning of March than he is now.
Further, it’s an encouraging sign for what sort of potential lies within Lammers, who will be the only power forward or center in the rotation who will be back next season (not counting Quinton Stephens, who sometimes plays power forward).
“With a player like that, he’s giving you his all in the time that he plays and he’s very efficient,” forward Marcus Georges-Hunt said. “So everything and anything Ben gives us has always been a plus.”