Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Hoops - Jackets beat a bad team

The Jackets beat the Gentlemen from Centenary tonight 85-69. They went up 12-0 early on strong play by Buck Fredrick, but slowly let the Gents back in it. In fact Centenary got within 6 points late in the 2nd half until Tech went on a strong finishing run.

Honesly, this is one of the no-win situation games. Centenary is a team that has lost like 30 of their last 33 games. They are 2-12 this season. A big victory was expected. A small victory would be worrisome and a loss would be flat out crushing. But they won, even if it wasn't entirely pretty. The Jackets played good in stretches, but probably fought to find motivation.

Interesting note. I think 8 players saw the floor. Four freshman. Four sophomores. No juniors, no seniors. That cannot be too common in collegiate hoops. When Mario West comes back that will be one junior, but folks - it's a youth movement all the way.

Buck led the scoring early then didn't take many shots in the 2nd half. He ended with 18 on 6/7 from the field and played well at the point.......... Jeremis Smith had an outstanding 2nd half and ended with 19 points as well on 8/10 from the floor. However, he was 2-8 from the charity stripe. Ouch................. Ra'Sean Dickey used the absense of Theodis Tarver to show some muscle and finish with 19 points on 7/11 shooting............. Anthony Morrow had a major lid on the basket in the 1st half and just couldn't find the net, but finished with 12 on 5/16............. Alade Aminu finished with his career high of 8 points on 3/7 from the floor............ D'Andre Bell chipped in 5, and Lewis Clinch / Paco Diaw each had a bucket.

After the game, Alade was interviewed. He was a well-spoken young man. He finished the game with 8 points, 8 boards and 2 assists. Certainly a career night in his young career. Here's what he said - "The game was about Theo tonight, not about the team. He's a good friend to me. He's back in Atlanta and we wanted to win for him. He's the one that's been working with me to get better down in the paint."...... On playing more minutes now - "I'm ready to step up to the challenge and I'll just have to be patient. Hopefully Theo can keep working with me to improve".

Jeremis was the man again late to help the Jackets put this game away. He finished with 19 points and 10 boards for another double/double. Evidently his high school coach was in attendence, so you know he wanted to show his stuff.

The Jackets shot 51.6% for the game, including 7/21 from 3pt range. They outrebound the Gents 46-29. The Gents shot 44.1%, including 4/15 from long range. Once again turnovers are a concern as the Jackets give up the ball 19 times.

Interview with Wes Durham after the game.

We got off to a great start. Zam Fredrick was magnificant, especially in the 1st half. Then he got in foul trouble and you could see where we missed him in the 2nd half. I'm so happy for him to come out and shoot the ball the way he did today.

Jeremis Smith was great. His high school coach, Coach Hughes, was in the stands and actually came in and talked to the guys right after the game. He knows he better play hard when Coach Hughes is around or he's going to answer to a higher authority........... It was nice that when they cut the lead down that our guys reacted accordingly.

Did you get what you wanted from this game, in the end?

Not really. You know, Theo wasn't here, so.......

but in terms of following up, winning on the road, etc.

You know, it's a nice win, but I have to tell you Wes - emotionally this is a tough one for all of us today. To see this young man go through so much, from a dislocated kneecap, to losing his mom last year......... this was a tough one for us. We really had to talk long and hard before the game. Not necessarily about X's and O's, but just emotionally to make sure everybody was in focus and understands that he's back there feeling pretty bad and that we need to come out here and win this game so he doesn't feel worse. As soon as we get on the bus, everybody's going to make sure they give him a call to tell him - hey - we got the W and he can concentrate....... I know he went to classes today. He picked up his books. You know, he's going to proceed with life as normal, he's going to graduate from Georgia Tech one day. Like I said before, if this is the worst thing that he has to endure, then he's going to be well ahead in life.