Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Hoops - Jackets Fall to the Deacs on the road

It started ugly. Then it got uglier, and well - it just didn't look like it was gonna pretty up at all. But low and behold the Jackets showed a little fight, a little spirit. Unfortunately they could only get within 8 points after trailing by as much as 28. The hole was just too deep. Wake was desparate for their first ACC victory and they got it with a final of 86-71.

The 1st half was just hard to watch. Lucky for me I was in Albany NY and couldn't watch. It was ugly on the internet too - trust me. A halftime score of 51-28 pretty much ensured that Wake would have to catch group blindness to lose. So how did it get to this at the half? Lackidasical play. Lack of fire. Technically, try 14 turnovers and only 3 assists on 11 first half buckets. Wake, a team prone to turnovers, protected the ball and shot it well. Justin Grey 0-4 inside the arc, 4-4 outside in the first half. Go figure. He ends with 25 points - an off-night. Of course he was only 6-7 beyond the arc.

The 2nd half starting looking up slightly as Morrow came out firing. However, if a 2nd half is being played and Tech fans are no longer listening, did it really happen? Give the Jackets credit. They outscored Wake 43-35 in the half, but still lost by 15.

Just not there. I don't know how active they really were since I couldn't see what was happening, but Wes repeatedly commented early about how sluggish the team looked. Wake Forest 52% overall and 60% from long range. I don't care how you package it - it was not good defense. the NCST game was different - they shot well and hit tough shots. I know Gray hit some monster bombs, but it sounded like they just had a lot of open looks. Eric Williams just kills the Jackets every time we see him. Tonight was no different as he finished with 21 on 9-12 and grabbed 11 boards.

Wake is a good rebounding team and we still outrebounded them 37-36, which is one of the few encouraging signs. Jeremis Smith led with 10 and the rest were spread out evenly.

Hhhhmmmm. We shoot 42% overall and 44% from long range. However, 22 turnovers - 14 in the first half. Shall I repeat it? The team seemed to have a contest over who could have the most turnovers. It was a close race but A-Mo pulled it out:


Other than that, A-Mo had a standout night with a career high 29 points (8-15, 6-9 3pt). Clinch chipped in 14 and Jeremis Smith had another double/double with 10/10. However, Smith had a tough night in the paint only shooting 2-10 and also only hitting 6-13 from the charity stripe. But as usual, his motor never stopped and he just kept battling and battling.

Lewis Clinch and Alade Aminu had very good nights. It's especially good to see Clinch get his game back after the injury as we really need another strong defender and offensive weapon. Clinch had 14 pts (6-12, 2-5 3pt), 4 boards, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, but 4 to's. ...... Aminu did a nice job of filling out the stat sheet with his minutes. He was active defensively and ended with 4 pts (2-4), 3 boards, 2 assists. He helped spark our futile comeback. For a kid in only his 4th season of organized ball you can see a lot of potential.


On the energy:

They came out with a lot more energy than us. They played much more physical than we did. They were 0-3 obviously coming into the game and they played like a team that absolutely had to win, and we played like a team that just showed up and wanted to play basketball, almost like a pick-up game. We didn't come with a purpose and they did.

On the 2nd half:
I think, when you're down by that far, and you just realize how big a hole you've dug for yourself, you start to play with some of that desparation that they came into the game with. I give Alade Aminu an awful lot credit. Jeremis Smith fought and battle the whole game. Lewis Clinch. D'Andre Bell. We had some guys step up and do some things, but the start of the game was inexcusable and really, I'm embarrassed, and I really apologize to all our fans, our students who come out and support this team with a lot of passion.

On Clinch and Aminu:
He (Clinch) is a talented scorer. He's getting his legs back and I think there are some things, just execution of sets that could be improved, but you know, in a game like this it really comes down to the plays you run. It's how you run your plays, whether it's offense or defense - play with energy, play with a lot of pride, which is something that I think he and Alade did, as well as D'Andre Bell.

On running into another hot shooting team:
There were a lot of breakdowns. When you turn the ball over in the middle of the floor you can't defend it. We had two major breakdowns when we backed off of Justin Gray. I think there were 3 times total, 2 in the first half. That's not to take any credit away from Justin Gray and his team, but when you play with a lack of passion like we did in the first half, those things are going to happen. Good players are going to make shots.

Preparation on the next game - focus on Clemson or focus on the Jackets?:
Well, that's the thing with this team. For some reason, once we start to get things going, all of the sudden we slide back. It was very evident from the first two plays, when Eric Williams outran us to get a basket and there was a three when we left Justin Gray alone. It was evident from early in the game that for some reason we just weren't in it mentally. I certainly have to take an awful lot of the blame for that. Obviously we weren't as well prepared as I thought we were. But that's how it goes.

The Jackets are now 0-4 when trailing at the half.


Time to head back home and play Clemson. Time to get that ACC record back into positive territory. This is a MUST-WIN game in order to have any post-season hopes. Rest assurred that Clemson will come in hungry, as they were absolutely walloped by Miami tonight and scored a grand total of 38 points.