LAST SEASON: 27-7: lost to LSU in NCAA round of 16.
GOODBYE TO: Guard Mark Price (17.4 ppg); center John Salley (13.1 ppg).
SUPPORTING CAST: Guard Craig Neal; forward Tom Hammonds (122 ppg, ACC Rookie of the Year); forward Duane Ferrell; center Antoine Ford.
INTRODUCING: Freshmen 6'11" center James Munlyn and guard Brian Oliver.
SEE YOU IN THE SUPERDOME IF: Neal blossoms at the point and Dalrymple's jumper is more than just a rumor.
He'll be sorely missed, if it's true. And Bruce Dalrymple insists that it is: Until this season is history, V's, Sneakers and Confetti—his preferred Atlanta night spots—are off-limits. "I've had my good time, now that's gone," he says. Tangible evidence of this monastic new attitude is that Dalrymple has dropped 10 pounds. And lo, under his arm on a recent morning was a stack of books, with, yes, creased spines. Says Dalrymple, "Party's over."
In truth, the party ended for Georgia Tech last March. Everyone's preseason pick to zoom through the NCAA tourney and reign triumphant in Dallas, the Ramblin' Wreck didn't even make it to the airport. Tech was upended in the Southeast Regional semifinal by rank underdog LSU, in Atlanta's own Omni, no less. Also before the season, the duo of Dalrymple and Mark Price, now a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, was billed as the best collegiate backcourt of the decade. By the time LSU rolled Tech, it was arguably the third-best in the ACC. Dalrymple looked like a B-movie version of himself down the stretch, nursing a groin pull that never quite healed. Says coach Bobby Cremins, "With Bruce not playing well at the end of the season, we were just an average team."
Convinced his nagging leg injury was the result of being overweight, Dalrymple did something about it. "He needed to lose those pounds, and he did," says playmaker Craig (Noodles) Neal, Price's immediate heir. At 6'4" and 200 pounds, part-guard, part-forward Dalrymple defies classification the way he defies opposing giants on his drives through the lane. He is, says Cremins, "the best rebounding wing guard I've ever seen." Two years ago Dalrymple had more rebounds per game than Tech's 7-foot John Salley, now a Detroit Piston. As adept a scavenger as he is a scorer, Dalrymple made 70 steals last season.
Guard though he is, Dalrymple shoots like a tackle. At St. Johnsbury Academy in Vermont he averaged almost 30 points per game. "But of those, he'd get 24 inside," says Tech assistant coach Jimmy Hebron. "When he got here he was more or less throwing the ball at the basket." Hebron insists that Dalrymple will unveil a drastically improved perimeter touch this winter. "They say that every year," retorts a rival ACC coach.
It is evident from talking to Cremins that he craves success for Dalrymple, a native of Harlem. It was at the coach's suggestion that Dalrymple curbed his social life. "I feel kinda close to him," says Cremins. "I'm from the South Bronx." Of Dalrymple's 138 assists last season, Cremins best remembers the one that saved the first game against Maryland. With Tech trailing 67-66 in the last minute, Dalrymple rose to take a shot from the wing. "Three guys just converged on him," Cremins says. Dalrymple calmly flicked the ball to Price, whose 16-footer won the game. Says Cremins, "Afterward, everybody was talking about what a great shot it was. I thought it was a hell of an assist, myself."