Without Jose Alvarado, what’s next for Georgia Tech

The last person who might hold a “woe is us” response to Georgia Tech point guard Jose Alvarado’s season-ending elbow fracture and dislocation is probably Alvarado’s teammate Josh Okogie. The sophomore is confident, capable of playing point guard and also someone quite familiar with having a key player miss time because of injury.

Namely, himself.

“It’s always next man up,” he said. “When I went out with my injury (a dislocated finger), that was the thing. Next man up, everybody be ready to play. That’s the same thing now. It sucks for him, but I know he’s going to pull through. He’s a warrior, and we’re going to have his back until he comes back.”

Okogie missed eight games at the start of the season because of his six-game NCAA suspension and also his finger dislocation, which kept him out an additional two games.

Their season sliding away already – the Yellow Jackets have lost seven of eight – Tech will forge ahead without Alvarado, who was so indispensable to its operations that he had played 197 consecutive minutes when he suffered the injury in the first half of Sunday’s loss to Duke. Tech (11-14, 4-8 ACC) plays at Wake Forest on Wednesday (9 p.m., Fox Sports South). The Demon Deacons are themselves in a bit of a spiral, having lost 10 of their past 11.

Perhaps the most likely move is for coach Josh Pastner to move Okogie from the shooting guard spot to the point, as he did against Duke. He declined to tip his hand Monday on what he’ll do against Wake Forest (9-16, 2-11).

“Depending on the situation, we’ll just have to make it work,” Pastner said. “I thought (Okogie) was fine (Sunday). He came in, handled the ball, did some good things.”

Okogie scored 29 points with six rebounds and four assists against Duke. He sounded ready to move over to the point if called upon. He liked the idea of playing against a shorter opponent at the point.

“I can kind of look over him and kind of analyze the court and make a smart basketball play,” said Okogie, 6-foot-4.

But that’s only part of the tangle that Pastner has to solve. Less than three weeks ago, Tech had a seven-man rotation, but it was reduced to six when guard Curtis Haywood was shelved with a stress reaction in his shin and then down to five with Alvarado’s injury. Called upon Sunday, freshman forwards Evan Cole and Moses Wright played admirably, combining for 19 points and 12 rebounds and playing with abandon. It was a pleasant surprise for Tech, as they had combined for six points and three rebounds in ACC play before Sunday.

However, Cole and Wright are now likely the first two options off the bench, a different setting than getting sent into a blowout. (Pastner said Tuesday that he had not yet made up his mind about elevating Tadric Jackson into the starting lineup.)

“There was no pressure on them (Sunday),” Pastner said. “Can they play that well with the pressure on them? And they’re obviously going to have opportunities to do that starting Wednesday. I believe in them, and they’re going to have to get it done.”

Tech also has to find a way to find the 12.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists that Alvarado was averaging. Okogie can expect to have to pick up some of that, but forward Abdoulaye Gueye has been struggling (17 points in the past four games), as has center Ben Lammers (10 points in the past two games), who suffered a slight knee injury against Louisville last Thursday.

Also, the Jackets are 1-7 on the road.

By RPI ranking, Wake Forest is easily the weakest team that Tech has played since playing and defeating Pittsburgh on Jan. 13, nine games ago. And Tech could build on its second half against Duke, when the Jackets outscored the Blue Devils 43-37, grabbed as many offensive rebounds (12) as Duke had defensive rebounds and had a 9/3 assist/turnover ratio.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Lammers invited to pre-draft showcase
Lammers invited to pre-draft showcase

Georgia Tech center Ben Lammers has been invited to the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, a pre-draft showcase event, according to coach Josh Pastner. The tournament brings together 64 college seniors to perform before scouts from the NBA and international leagues. Six players that took part in the 2017 tournament were later selected in the NBA draft...
How Ben Lammers has dealt with a frustrating season
How Ben Lammers has dealt with a frustrating season

It has not been the season that Ben Lammers hoped, for himself or his team. In his final season, the Georgia Tech center hoped for an NCAA Tournament berth and to be named first-team All-ACC, as well as the league’s defensive player of the year for a second year in a row. The goals were not unreasonable. He was on the preseason All-ACC team...
The unlikely greatness of Tech distance runner Nahom Solomon
The unlikely greatness of Tech distance runner Nahom Solomon

Nahom Solomon is grateful, and he has reason to be. On his life’s course, decisions and turns – some of them his own, some beyond his control – have led him to the highest tier of Georgia Tech’s distance-running realm. A senior, he will graduate in May with a computer-engineering degree and will have competitive eligibility...
Grayson’s Jeremiah Smith is Georgia Tech’s first 2019 commitment
Grayson’s Jeremiah Smith is Georgia Tech’s first 2019 commitment

Georgia Tech has the first commitment for its 2019 recruiting class. Grayson High safety Jeremiah Smith announced his decision on his Twitter account Thursday. Smith is listed at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds. He also reported scholarship offers from Minnesota, Indiana, Wake Forest, Iowa State, Mississippi State and West Virginia. He is listed as a...
Mel Kiper on Ricky Jeune’s draft prospects
Mel Kiper on Ricky Jeune’s draft prospects

Former Georgia Tech wide receiver Ricky Jeune is a legitimate draft prospect, according to draft expert Mel Kiper. Speaking Wednesday, the ESPN analyst projected Jeune as a third-day draft prospect, which would mean selection between the fourth and seventh rounds. “I think Ricky Jeune is the most interesting one – the wide receiver,&rdquo...
More Stories