Saturday, January 08, 2005

Jackets Turn on the Jets in 2nd Half

Why is it that when we have games where we should be so excited, something terrible happens to taint the mood? The Jackets thrash UVA 92-69 and Ra'Sean Dickey gets his knee bent inwards with less than one minute to go in the game. It did not look pretty on the replay. He limps off the floor but cannot make it to the lockerroom on his own and has to lay back down in the runway. The same thing happened to Jeremis Smith - Hewitt was about to take him out when he dislocates the knee-cap. Now this. This team just keeps having to suck it up and find new ways to adjust.

Back to the game. Well, it was a 6-point game at half. Then it got ugly. The Jackets just roll over UVA, dominating at the defensive end. Once again, teams prove the ability to hang around for awhile, but the athleticism and pressure defense just took a toll on the Cavs. No doubt they were without Devin Brown and had other injuries, but so did the Jackets. While the GT offense definitely shot better in the 2nd half, it was the defense that really kicked in and stepped up.

Some game notes:

1. Is it me, or is Jarrett Jack turning into a mighty fine Scoring Guard? Have you noticed that with his improved shooting, HE'S the guy getting the ball and firing up the shot more often? He's the guy driving to the hoops for the "....and one". And of course he's hitting them. Tonight he sets a career high with 5 3pt shots (5-7), ends with 22 pts, 2 boards, 6 assists, 4 to's. It's funny, his turnover stats are not impressive this year, but that's about the only weakness in his game. Jarrett Jack is clearly the team leader.

2. Anthony McHenry is more important to this team than we will realize until he is gone. He was everywhere. He was picking up boards, making shots, picking up missed defensive assignments from other players, blocking shots, getting assists, etc, etc, etc. He ends with 13 pts (5-9), 7 boards (2 off), 3 blocks, 2 assists, 1 to. I could not be more impressed with his game and his leadership.

3. Luke plays quite a nice defensive game tonight. Ends with only 7 pts (3-5), but grabs 15 boards (2 off), 5 blocks, 3 assists, 2 steals. That's quite a line for a big man. He really held his ground and seemed to get an extra 2-4 inches of extension in those fingers. Twice he blocked guys after they went by him (extended D). Nice effort tonight.

4. Rebounding was finally back in force tonight. The Jackets out-rebound UVA by 10, although the Cav's did win the battle of the offensive boards. A nice effort on the glass. Hewitt said it best after the game - if the Jackets are rebounding and playing defense well, then we will be great. 'Nuff said.

5. How about this - the Jackets dish 23 assists on 33 made field goals. Wes Durham said it best - John Wooden would have been proud.

6. Let's get back to the team defense again. UVA was held to 30% FG for the game, 25% from 3pt range. In the 2nd half, when the stakes were the highest, UVA was held to 27.5% FG% and 9% 3pt%. Just outstanding.

7. The Jackets swat a Georgia Tech ACC record 14 blocks tonight (per Wes). I think it actually might have been 11 blocks though. Luke leads the way with 5.

8. Ra'Sean Dickey was the man (particularly in the 1st half), ending 5-5 from the floor and scoring 13 pts, 5 boards (3 off), 1 block, 1 assist, 3 to's. All that in 11 minutes. Man, if you extrapolate his stats to about 25 minutes a game, they must be incredibly impressive. It is clear that his post-game is the most developed on the team RIGHT NOW. I sure hope his knee is ok. We all hope so. We will need him with the upcoming stretch of games. Of course we could use Elder and J-Smith as well.

9. Anthony Morrow continues his strong offensive showing, ending with 13 pts (3-7), grabbing 5 boards, 1 block. He fouls out of his first game and to top it off, his mother was able to come in from Charlotte and see the game. Outstanding. We just need his defense to improve, as he was beat numerous times off the dribble. But that will come.

10. Did anyone notice that Will Bynum didn't hardly play in the 2nd half? Wonder what the scoop was there? He played 23 minutes and had an ok game other than shooting the ball. Maybe nothing.

There are other things to say, but I'm going to hit the sack. Just a total team effort tonight. Great halftime adjustments by the team. Coach said they talked at the half about going 2-0 in the ACC and to leave it on the floor - play tough D and don't give them open shots. It worked. Great job, but things get tougher now. How about UNC, NCST, VT, WF, MD, FSU, Duke for our next stretch of games? The Carolina game will be one to watch for all ACC fans.

Great job Jackets. Get some rest.