Friday, November 18, 2005

Hoops: Jackets Take Care of Business

It is a new era in Georgia Tech basketball. The faces are fresh, the chemistry is still brewing and the future is bright. In a beautiful way to start a season, the Jackets beat UNC-Ashville 80-52. It is the Jackets 12th season opening win in a row.........A pretty weel balanced offensive / defensive effort against a less talented team. There are some real positive things for the Jackets to look forward to this season.

About 5 minutes into the game, Coach Hewitt orders up the full-court press, and it led to 11 unanswered points and a 23-6 lead. Solid. UNC-Ashville was held to 33% shooting, including 1-14 from 3pt range (7%), committed 25 turnovers and the Jackets stole 16 balls from them. Solid defensive effort, even if some of that was just missing open shots and throwing the ball away. From a young team, this is encouraging, but of course this isn't ACC competition........ but.......... baby steps........... You really can't ask for a lot more than the defensive effort put out tonight. Throw in a slight rebounding advantage (35-32) and that's a winning formula.

Offensively the Jackets were solid and balanced with 5 players in double figures. And make no mistake, this team can score. The issue is not scoring ability. The issue is running the offense to create open shots. If the shots are there, this group of guys will hit them. In addition, the Jackets captalized on their defensive efforts, converting 25 UNC-A turnovers into 31 points. From the free throw line the Jackets were 17-23 - not bad at all..................... Anthony Morrow led the team with 15 points on 6-8 (3-5 3pt). A-Mo also chipped in 4 boards, 2 assists and 2 steals................... Jeremis Smith almost contributed his first career double/double with 14/9. The 9 rebounds is a career high. That's the kind of blue collar work we are going to need this season. He gets the lunch pail award tonight and something tells me he'll be eating from a lot this season. He even knocked in a 3-pointer and had 3 steals. Lewis Clinch was solid with 13 points (6-12, 1-3 3pt), and chipped in 2 boards, 3 assists, 2 steals............ Ra'Sean Dickey knocked in 12 (4-11) and grabbed 6 boards..............

Mario West was outstanding tonight. He added 11 points (3-4), 5-6 FT, 3 boards, 5 assists, 2 turnovers, 3 steals. He was great on defense playing off the ball. He is definitely going to be a key cog on this team. In addition, he is turning into a real leader on this team........... Is it just me or is Mario the "PJ Daniels" of hoops? Walk-ons who work their tails off and earn a scholly and become starters and standout players. It's not a coincidence that Rio and PJ are two of my favorite players.

Buck ends his opener as starting PG on a rough note - 6 pts (2-8), 0-3 3pt range, 1 assist, 5 turnovers, 1 steal. He played 29 minutes. We'll just have to be patient with Buck as he adjusts to running this team against live competition. Foks, don't forget that Jarrett Jack was not "Jarrett Jack" as a freshman. Anyone remember those 2 assist, 7 turnover games? There were quite a few of them. But he got better and better and better and ................ NBA...... Patience fans. He'll come around. This entire team is going to require patience. Face it, every single Paul Hewitt team required it, even if out National Championship runner-up season, where we finished 9-7 in the ACC.

De'Andre Bell had a rough first half, but settled down in the 2nd half to end with 3 pts (1-5), 3 boards (2 off), 1 steal, 1 to. All that in only 10 minutes........................ Alade Aminu finishes with 10 minutes, 2 pts (1-2), 3 boards, 2 steals, 2 to's...................... Paco Diaw only plays 3 minutes and doesn't register on the scoreboard.

29........Buck Fredrick
10........Bell, Aminu

There were a few glimpes of life with Theodis Tarver and Jacket fans want nothing more than to see that young man succeed. Tarver finished with 2 pts (1-2), 4 boards (2 off), 1 block, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 to. If he can contribute on defense and start to fill the stat sheets a little - what a boost!!!

Jeremis Smith was outstanding in the post-game interview. Very articulate, even a bit humorous. Wes asked him about the fact that they could just keep running and running up and down the floor. He said - "we're young. We have young legs. That's what we're supposed to do. That's the plan - tire out the opponent.".

All in all, a nice way to open the season. Solid offense, Solid defense, balanced attack. Can't ask for a lot more quite frankly. Buck will get better because he understands what he needs to do. Certainly a lot to look forward to with this team.