Saturday, February 26, 2005

GIANT Win for Jackets

I was getting worried, but the Jackets pull through in the stretch and beat Miami 76-72. Jack again is the star of the game, dropping 21 points and 4 assists. He hit 2 huge 3pt shots down the stretch.

However, there were some different things we saw this game. Tonight it was the freshman who pulled us through. Jarrett Jack said in the post-game show - "it was the freshman tonight who put us on their backs and carried us to the win". Anthony Morrow got minutes and performed, hitting 4 3pt shots, most coming in a furious stretch late in the 1st half. He was the ONLY guy hitting shots at that time. If it weren't for him we would have gone into the half WWWAAAAYYYY behind. Ra'Sean Dickey had probably his best game of the season, ending with 12 pts, 6 boards (3 off) and went 6-7 from the line. All that in only 17 minutes. Very efficient as usual. Also, Jeremis Smith played 24 minutes, grabbed 8 boards, and 6 of them were offensive boards. He only scored 2 points, but he did the dirty work and was a BIG difference.

BJ Elder was cold again, except for down the stretch when he hit a few important shots. Absent tonight were Luke Schnescher and Will Bynum, who combined for 12 pts, 7 boards, 2 assists and 2 to's. However, I have to give Bynum credit. At the end of the game, he hit a ton of free throws to keep the game out of reach. Didn't miss one when it counted and was 7-7 from the stripe. He is a finisher no doubt.

Listening to this game on the radio, what seemed to be the difference was the rebounding, particularly on the offensive glass. The Jackets outrebounded Miami 42-33 and that included 21 offensive boards - HUGE. But it was the freshman Dickey and Smith who combined for 14 (8 off), while Luke grabbed another 5. So again, the future looks bright on the interior.

With the freshman getting a combined 59 minutes, who sat on the bench more? Well, T-Mac only played 10 minutes and Mario West 6. Muhammad played 14 - all well below their averages, particularly T-Mac and Ish.

But at the end of the day, you can play all the defense you want - you better start hitting shots. And it was NOT the seniors that did it. Yes, Elder hit a couple, but other than that it was Jack, Morrow, Dickey. So much for sticking with the seniors, as Coach Hewitt had said recently. However, he stuck with them against Duke and they didn't get it done against a short-handed team that did everything they could to help us win. Tonights road game might be a wake-up call for the seniors.

A win is a win, and this one won't help us as much as it would have hurt us had we lost. But it is important. With VaTech's loss today, we are now tied with them behind Maryland. MD plays UNC on Sunday and a Terps loss would create a 3-way tie for 4th. Go Tar-heels.

Great win. Great heart. Great determination. Great future with these freshman who showed that they ARE READY!!!! GO JACKETS!!!!

By the way, the erie similarities with last year's finish continues. Last season the Jackets finish the season to end 9-7, including a huge road win over Duke. Could a huge road win against Wake Forest be in order this week, then a close out of 3-0 over Clemson? Certainly possible.