Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Jackets Cannot get it done against Duke

I am pacing my hotel room in Opelika Alabama THROWING crap around everywhere. I have never been SSSSOOOOO frustrated at the end of a game. I am not going to single out any players in particular but I want to make some points:

1. Execution. This team had CHANCE AFTER CHANCE AFTER CHANCE AFTER CHANCE AFTER CHANCE AFTER CHANCE AFTER CHANCE..... you get the point. The door was opened repeatedly. That's why this was so frustrating. We could NOT execute down the stretch. When your seniors are not hitting shots and Lee Melchionni is draining critical 3pt shots, what the heck is going on???? But those late shots he hit were about it for Duke. They missed free throws, turned the ball over, gave us every chance in the world, and we didn't take it. We continued our 2nd half scoring draughts that have plagued us this season.

2. Rebounding. Oh man. We get our clocks cleaned on the offensive glass. The most critical of all were at the end of the game - one a long offensive board by Daniel Ewing who was fouled. Then he misses a free throw, but Sheldon Williams grabs the missed FT. Uuggghh.

4. Offense. The trend continues. On the post-game show Coach Hewitt said - "This was not a quality display of offensive ball." and "I have to shoulder the blame for the lack of offensive efficiency". He just has not figured out how to push the right buttons. Coach is still in the best position to determine what those buttons are, but time is running out. How's this for a statistic. In ACC wins we are shooting 38% from 3pt range. In our ACC losses we are shooting 19%. Ouch!!

5. The return of BJ Elder. Well, this is supposed to be our time now, right? Unfortunately we are now averaging fewer points per game since Elder returned compared to when he was out. While I am not overly concerned about the team impact, this may work against us with the NCAA selection committee. If we want them to discount our losses while BJ was out, then we better win while he is back. But to score FEWER points with his return is not going give us much favor with the selection committee.

So what does this mean? Well, bottom-line is that we have to go 2-1 in the remaining 3 games to ENSURE a ticket to the dance. That would put us at 8-8 in conference. That will get us in. That means we better beat Miami and we better beat Clemson, because beating Wake Forest on the road will be 10 times tougher than tonight's game. If we lose 2 of the last 3, then it will take a SERIOUS run in the ACC tourney. A serious run - like Maryland last season.

You know what is really frustrating? This is not a typical Duke team. This is a short-handed, undermanned Coach K squad. Yet they still win, and it ticks me off. A walk-on hits 3 huge back-breaking 3pt shots. Why does that happen for them? I hate that, and it just ticks me off. Coach k is a weasle, a rat, and a whining complainer during games. But here's the thing - their guys keeps winning. He recruits very well off the court and he coaches VERY well on the court. He just gets it done. So I hate him because of it, but I respect what he does.

Want to know the difference between a win and a loss...... 4th place and 7th place. A win tonight and we would have been tied for 4th place. A loss means we are now sole owners of 7th place in the ACC, behind VaTech, Maryland and Miami (and of course Duke, WF and UNC). Ooooouuuucccchhhh!!!!

One last note - I don't fault our team for effort. Those guys were hustling the whole time. They tried hard and gave it their all. Even Luke's missed box-out on that free throw at the end of the game was the result of trying TOO hard. He overcommitted his body and Williams shifted Luke's weight against him. Still ticks me off, but you cannot fault the guys for effort. They left it all on the court.

Time to put it behind this one behind us and just hope these guys can suck it up and get their business done. The stakes just got even higher. The clock is ticking and when the clock strikes 12, let's hope there is a glass slipper that fits.