Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 10/12/11
Georgia Tech has a vision for its basketball program. It's a vision that requires some imagination, some time and some patience, in regards to the finished product, both for the team and its playing facility. The team held its annual media day Tuesday afternoon, with new Head Coach Brian Gregory meeting the media for approximately 30 minutes before the locker room was open for the media to meet the players. Official practices start Friday afternoon. After meeting with the team, media members were given a tour of what will be Hank McCamish Arena, scheduled to open for the 2012-13 season. The team, obviously, will be unveiled first -- they'll have exactly 28 days to come together before opening the season Nov. 11, against Florida A&M at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. Gregory, who left Dayton authoring five 20-win seasons, including his final four with the Flyers, looks to turn around a Yellow Jackets program that was 13-18 last season, was 5-10 in the ACC, and managed only one road win the entire season. The latter certainly will have to improve, as, in effect, 2011-12 will be nothing but road games. He must turn things around without two of Tech's top three scorers from last season. But Gregory is not interested in what he doesn't have. The Tom Izzo disciple is excited to see what he has and how they'll respond to his system. "I think our guys' excitement is starting to build," he said. "Now you have another five weeks before you start playing games. So one of the things that we always want to do at this time of year is keep things fresh, keep the guys fresh. At least have some positive momentum going into the first practice. "I think the message that we have sent since day one is that on offense, we are going to play at a nice, very good pace and with freedom to make plays," he said later. "With that comes a responsibility of we have to get better defensively and we have to get better on the glass. Those two are key points for us." For Gregory, it's how the team plays in 2011-12 that is more important than where they play -- Tech will play most of its non-conference games at the Arena at Gwinnett. They'll play the ACC-Big Ten Challenge game against Northwestern (Nov. 29) and the 2012 portion of their schedule (Jan. 3 vs. Alabama and its entire slate of ACC games) at Philips Arena. McCamish Pavilion serves as carrot for the young team and for future recruits. "One of the things you have to do in recruiting in general is sell a vision," Gregory said. "A vision of what the program is going to be like when the recruit is here, what his career is going to look like, how the program is going to advance in that time. This is just another piece to it. The one thing is that this is just a tangible piece in that vision. The one thing too in terms of our recruiting in particular of our next two classes, the class of 2012 will be the first class that gets to play in the McCamish Pavilion." The renovation of what was Alexander Memorial Coliseum, at a price tag estimated around 40 to 45 million -- with the primary gift coming from the McCamish family -- is well underway, with the final result promising to be spectaclar. Pretty much all that is left of "Thrillerdome" is the dome itself and the beams that supported it -- a rather ingenious bit of engineering that impressed Trevor Pitt, of the contracting firm of Whiting-Turner, and the tour guide. Whiting-Turner is following the design of globally renowned design firm Populous. Pitt, a Georgia Tech alum, is excited about the future home of the Yellow Jackets' men's and women's basketball teams because of how the structure holds on to the history and tradition of Georgia Tech basketball, while embracing modern technology to create a greater fan experience. Among the key elements in the new arena are an open concourse, allowing fans in the upper deck and the main concourse ability to see the action at all times. No more leaving the game when heading to concession stands. There also will be better sight lines for the fans while in their seats, the result of a complicated process called Point-Cloud Surveying. Fans will never have trouble knowing the score, as McCamish will feature a 30,000-pound center-hung scoreboard, as well as LED scoreboards across the facing of the upper deck. Atmosphere also will be important, as Tech is pulling out the stops, putting in a brand new sound system and installing theatrical lighting, which will change the way fans view the game live and on TV. The main seating bowl will be darkened, putting a spotlight of sorts on the court. It will give a much more aesthetically pleasing look to TV games as well. McCamish will be only the third arena in the entire United States to have theatrical lighting -- the other two are Staples Center in Los Angeles and Madison Square Garden in New York. The Yellow Jackets history and tradition also will be highlighted, as in addition to the dome being kept in tact, the steel beams supporting it will be highlighted, painted a dark grey (the official color is "Cheating Heart" by Benjamin Moore). The columns on the concourse just inside the main entrance also will celebrate Tech's heritage, featuring a historic salute to past players and coaches and will be wrapped in pieces of the actual wood from the old court. Teams will be benefit from meeting rooms, complete with video technology that are just off the court instead of having to traipse back upstairs to their locker rooms at halftime, something that actually had been an advantage for visiting teams. McCamish's construction is right on schedule and should be ready to open in October 2012. Gregory's schedule for completing the first stage of his goal of bringing the program back to prominence may take a little longer. Regardless, as Tuesday showed, great days lie ahead on The Flats.
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