THE FLATS - Georgia Tech has a week off after facing UCLA in Shanghai, China, and resumes its 2017-18 schedule by hosting MEAC member Bethune-Cookman on Nov. 19 at McCamish Pavilion. This is the third in a series of previews of the Yellow Jackets' non-conference opponents
Location: Daytona, Fla.
Conference: Mid-Eastern Athletic
Home arena: Moore Gym (1,000)
2016-17 Record: 10-22 overall, 6-10 in MEAC (10th), 347th in NCAA RPI
Post-Season: lost to NC Central in quarterfinals of MEAC Tournament, 95-60
NCAA Postseason Appearances: Three (All Division II; last in 1980)
All-time series record: 1-0, Georgia Tech
Head coach: Ryan Ridder (entering first season)
Starters returning/lost: 1/4
Top scorer returning: Brandon Tabb (17.8)
Top rebounder returning: Brandon Tabb (5.4)
Quick preview for 2017-18
First-year head coach Ryan Ridder hopes to bring about a new era of basketball for the Wildcats, but it won't be a totally different looking core in season one. In Ridder's inaugural season at the helm of the Wildcats, two-thirds of their top scorers and paint presences will return to what should be a much improved year.
Luckily for Ridder, leading scorer Brandon Tabb returns after averaging 17.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game last season. The Wildcats will need to find somebody other than Tabb to step up in those areas, but if he can keep up his level of play, Bethune-Cookman should be able to work its way toward the top of the MEAC -- a feat not beyond imaginable despite a few setbacks last season.
Quick recap of 2016-17
In an up and down year that saw Bethune-Cookman struggle mightily at times, the Wildcats found a hot streak late in the season, winning five of their last six games to make a run toward the quarterfinals of the MEAC Tournament. Despite not being able to make it past top-ranked NC Central in the postseason, B-CU saw fine performances by Brandon Tabb, Reggie Baker and Quinton Forrest. The trio helped them overcome four gut-wrenching overtime losses (1-4 on the year).
The best stretch for the Wildcats came when they took down Hampton and Norfolk State, the third- and second-ranked teams in the MEAC at the time, in the same week in the final stretch of the season. North Carolina Central wound up ending both win streaks for Bethune-Cookman, first on Feb. 25 in a regular season game (78-63) and then in the quarterfinals of the league tournament when B-CU fell 95-60 to the eventual MEAC representative in the NCAA Tournament.
Greatest Program Accomplishment
With Bethune-Cookman only having been a Division I program since 1980, most of the Wildcats success came at the Division II level. In 1965, 1968 and 1980, B-CU was good enough to make it to the NCAA DII Tournament, where they fell in each of the third place matchups. However, B-CU's best year came in 2010-11 when the Wildcats went 21-13 to finish as the MEAC regular season champions and make it to the NIT where they fell to Virginia Tech.
Greatest player in program history
Standing at 6-feet, 10-inches tall, 215-pound center Aulcie Perry was one of the most prolific rebounders in Bethune-Cookman program history. After being signed with the Virginia Squires (APA) in 1974 and Allentown Jets (ABA), Perry did get the opportunity to sign with the New York Knicks (NBA), though he never played for the team. Where Perry made his name was in the international game. In 1976, he signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel for $6,000 a month -- one of the highest salaries in the European league. Perry helped lead Maccabi Tel Aviv to its first European Cup championship in 1977 before doing it again in 1981. In nine years overseas, Perry helped the team win six Israel Cups and capture the league championship seven times.
Place to visit on campus or in the city
Located near "The World's Most Famous Beach," Daytona Beach, Bethune-Cookman is near some of the most beautiful and entertaining parts of Florida. The obvious thing to do in Daytona Beach is go to the actual beach or Daytona Beach Pier. However, there is also the Daytona International Speedway (home of the Daytona 500 and headquarters of NASCAR) and the Ocean Walk Shoppes.