Saturday, December 11, 2004

What a Great Day

Woke up early, took the family to the Christmas Tree farm, picked out a nice douglas fir, brought it home. Straightened up the house for a Sunday afternoon party, watched Georgia Tech shoot down Air Force 64-42 (get it?). Then took the family out for a nice dinner, came back, decorated the tree, and voila, here I am. A ton of fun with my 2 1/2 year old, who had a blast decorating. The kind of day that gives you that X-mas spirit.

Now, let me get my head out of the clouds and back to trivial stuff - the game. If you watched this game on Fox Sports South (not a given evidently in ATL where a blackout was in effect - that's what we get for playing at Philips), you probably felt great in the first half, and not so great in the 2nd half. Well, Air Force runs the famous "Princeton" offense, and frankly, these are just frustrating games to watch. Half-court sets, milking the shot clock, back-cuts, screens, switching, then launch a 3pt bomb. That was the Air Force formula.

The first half was great, despite the slow-down offense. They tried their thing and it didn't work. Turnovers, terrible shooting (really terrible), and fast-break transition points by the Jackets were the order of the day. GT built up a 20 point lead early and Air Force never got it closer than 13 the rest of the day. I was very impressed with how the Jackets pounded the ball down into the post. Schenscher clearly overmatched everyone in the post and both Tarver and Dickey looked good.

The second half was a different story. Air Force still did their thing, only it worked better. Why? Focus, concentration, poor passing, a handful of things. Air Force hit some of their shots. The lead got down to 13, but never closer. But you just watched in frustration anyhow. The Jackets had 3 turnovers at the half, but 13 in the 2nd half. Ball movement was poor.

In his post-game interview, Coach said he told his team - our goal is not just winning this game. Our goal was to come out in the 2nd half and increase the skills and improve their playmaking, but that it clearly did not happen.

One oddity of this game was that the Jackets only took 2 3-pt shots, missing them both. When the final buzzer sounded, a 17 year old streak came to an end - 546 straight games making a 3pt shot. It was the 3rd longest streak in the nation, behind UNLV and Vandy. Not a huge deal in my book, particularly in the 1st half when the reason was fantastic interior play. But Coach Hewitt talks about the difference in both halves again:

"It's not necessarily important, but there's always a reason why things happen to a team," coach Paul Hewitt said. "For us to only have two 3-point attempts was a combination of the fact that in the first half we wanted to go inside, and in the second half we didn't pass the basketball."

Another comment worth mentioning. Most watching the game felt that Jarrett Jack had a bad game. Yes, he had a handful of turnovers in the 2nd half on non-typical careless plays, but Coach Hewitt had nothing but positives for Jarrett. He said that Jack was the key spark on the defense, really directing and yelling at his teammates about back-screens, cuts, defensive switches, etc. So even on an "off-night", Jack was the team leader, setting the tone and being the general on the court.

The MVP's however were Luke Schenscher, who dominated in the post with 15 pts (6-9) 8 boards, 3 blocks, 1 steal. The other MVP was Anthony McHenry. Tell me this isn't an impressive stat line: 9 pts (4-6), 3 boards, 3 assists, 1 to, 4 blocks, 3 steals. Folks, that's a glue guy. That's a team guy. That's just impressive. Kudos to these two guys.

One last comment. The freshman are really starting to come around. And the guy who just seems to be making big use of his minutes is Ra'Sean Dickey. He just looks confident in the low-post, and I like what I see. He is playing "Hewitt-style defense", for the most part. And he CLEARLY has a nice post-up game. I am envisioning this kid playing a significant role come springtime if he keeps this up. He just may give Tarver a run for his minutes. Keep an eye on that one. Of course things will get even more interesting should Jeremis Smith come back........ Buck Fredrick continues to put in some solid minutes and Morrow didn't do anything to hurt himself either.

So goodnight all. Just an outstanding day. Family, X-mas time, decorating trees..... and a Jacket victory. It doesn't get much better than that.