Sunday, December 04, 2005

Hoops - Tech 1-0 in the ACC

Georgia Tech opened the ACC slate a bit early thanks to almight power of the television dollar. The Jackets made good use of that time, beating the Virginia Cavaliers 63-54. Certainly a nice win, although UVA is certainly going to be down this season.

UVA gave Tech every opportunity to run away with this game. They missed TONS of shots, even most of their open looks. The Jackets had the lead early, but went on a cool stretch of their own, letting the Cav's back in it. The Jackets steadily built their lead to 29-17 at the half. The Jackets opened the 2nd half strong, going up 35-17. The Jackets maintained a 15 point lead until 9:19 left in the game. That's when UVA started chipping away and ultimately got the lead down to 4, but could get no closer. The Jackets closed out by hitting free throws.

Once again, the tale of two halves. The first half was just an outstanding effort by the Jackets, as they really focused on shutting down UVA's outstanding PG Sean Singletary. This kid very well could be considered the best PG in the ACC. The Jackets had a shadowing strategy. Coach Hewitt told every player to keep him shadowed even as they covered their man. It resulted in excellent help D. Yes, he got penetration, but there always seemed to be someone in his grill. The result - Singletary scored 10 points on 3-23 shooting from the field. Just outstanding. He was 0-5 from long range. In fact the entire UVA team was 0-13 from longe range. In all fairness, they had some wide open looks and the lid was locked down on the hoop. They couldn't buy one.

The 2nd half was a different story. I'm not sure what happened, but the team really lost focus. UVA didn't shoot the ball any better, but they got a lot more looks. They had a bunch of offensive putbacks and almost caught up.

For the game, UVA shoots 27.5% from the floor, and 0% from long range. The Jackets get 9 steals and UVA commits 18 turnovers.

The Jackets get outrebounded 52-41. UVA hits the offensive glass and actually gets more offensive boards (28) than Tech had defensive (26). Not a great effort. However, there is a reason to not be so harsh. Coach Hewitt's strategy of shadowing Singletary meant giving up some boards. You just can't have it all. So they focused on shutting down their best players, which meant our players were not always in position for boards.

Individually, Jeremis Smith leads the way with 9 boards, including 4 offensive. Mario West pulled down 8 boards, Ra'Sean Dickey had 7, including 4 offensive and Buck Fredrick pulled down 5. As usual, Smith and Dickey are the primary window washers.

Another mixed outing, but this is to be expected. The Jackets did an overall nice job of mixing up the offense, between the post-game, mid-range and long-distance. There were some good transition buckets and some good fast-break points as well. There was good and bad in all aspects. Ra'Sean Dickey was not dominant in the post like against Michigan State - however, UVA decided to double-team him all night. Ra'Sean did an ok job of feeling the double-team. He got tied up a couple of times and tried to force it a couple of times, but overall not bad. If he ever gets to where he can pass to the cutter out of a double-team, he could take his game to a new level. Jeremis Smith was solid in the post,a lthough his game is a bit more face-up than Dickey's.

On the perimeter our guards were not shooting the ball well, with Buck / Rio / Morrow / Clinch combining for 10-32 from the floor and 1-6 from the 3pt line. However, ball movement was solid and I just had the feel that the team was running well. Fredrick did a nice job at the point. His stats won't show it - 2 assists, 3 turnovers, but he was smooth most of the game, had some nice passes, and some nice dribble penetration, and some nice shots of his own in the paint. I am pleased with his development so far.

Individually, Jeremis Smith led the way with 17 points and was one board away from his 2nd double-double in a row. Anthony Morrow followed up wtih 13, but was only 3-11 shooting. Dickey and Fredrick both dropped in 11 points, so we had 4 guys in double-figures.

Our freshman are a mixed bunch so far. Alade Aminu has seen his minutes plummet and Coach Hewitt has said his development has plateaued. He will need a breakthrough in practice to see his minutes go back up.................. Lewis Clinch has really been pressing. We've heard so much about his talent but he just seems to be forcing the action a lot. When he starts "letting the game come to him" he will be a special player..................... D'Andre Bell has looked progressively better each game. He hasn't shot the ball well, but you can tell he's coming around. He's got a nice stroke and he's a scrapper and solid defender..................... So freshman are freshman. This group will certainly get a better chance to develop on the court than last year's group, with all the inexperience. Patience my friends.

A great sign was the Jackets hitting 9/10 free throws down the stretch. We all know how critical this is for winning.................. How's this for an odd stat. The Jackets were 0-3 from the stripe in the first half, then 18-24 in the 2nd half. Talk about a swing in calls. Wow.

In that last two games, we've seen something interesting from Ra'Sean Dickey - outside shooting. He hit a desparate 3pt shot against Mich.St., and tonight he hit a good looking 12 footer. We didn't see that last season. His form is very good and he certainly doesn't brick it. So will Coach Hewitt try and take advantage of this skill? Will it only be a last-ditch option? Can we pull some opposing big men out of the paint with this? I double we'll see more than one outside shot from him per game, but if those two shots weren't flukes, why not experiment?

There is no doubt this is a VERY tough team. Smith and Dickey are enforcers in the paint. These guys are tough. And Anthony Morrow has a mean streak in him. They all have that "don't bring that weak stuff in here" attitude. They talk a little smack. They have already busted a nose, an eyebrow, and tonight some teeth.

Drew Barry was at the game and was interviewed in the post-game show. Did a nice job.

It's a win. It's an ACC win. You can't ever criticize an ACC win too much. Just ask Duke who beat VaTech with a miracle 3-pt shot with 1.6 seconds left. A win is a win, unless it's an ACC win, then it's better. The Jackets are 1-0. Outstanding.

Wednesday night. UGAg. Time for revenge. Not for hoops - for football. Help Jacket fans ease our gridiron loss to the Mutts, and our banishment to the west coast.