Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Hoops: Day and Night

Jekyl and Hide
Abbott and Costello
Yin and Yang

How does one team go from playing so good one half to playing so bad the next? Well, all you have to do is watch Georgia Tech basketball and you're bound to find out. The Jackets blow a 20 point 1st half lead to North Carolina on the road only to lose by a final of 82-75. UNC Freshman Tyler Hansbrough just goes off, scoring a Dean Center and UNC freshman record 40 points. So what happened?

The Jackets ended the half something like 9-10 from 3 point range. In fact it was only their last 3 point attempt of the half that we missed. Well, the lid shut in the 2nd half. In fact if my math is correct, we were 0-7 in the 2nd half from long distance. Live by the 3, die by it. We died. Now why did that happen? I'll tell you why. UNC decided to start getting hands in faces and making shots a lot tougher. We hit some open looks in the 1st half. They weren't so open in the 2nd half. UNC just shut down the perimeter.... period.

Well, 20 turnovers is almost always a formula for failure. Unfortunately the majority of these turnovers were at crucial moments in the 2nd half. Too many extra opportunites for the Tarholes. How about this - UNC had 20 assists and 13 turnovers. The Jackets had 13 assists and 20 turnovers. Whoops.

Outrebounded tonight 35-28, including 13-6 on the offensive glass. And to sound like a broken record, some of those boards by UNC were at crucial points at the end of the game. We did not do a great job of protecting the glass. In fact, we were outrebounded by 10 in the 2nd half. Let's see. Lots of turnovers, not many assists, missed outside shots, crushed on the glass. The real question is how we kept the score so close at the end. Ra'Sean Dickey ends with 2 rebounds. I seem to remember about 2 from him last game. Need more activity folks on the glass.

Forget about the challenge of getting the ball inside. For most of the 2nd half it seemed like a monumental challenge just to pass the ball to some other player on the outside. How many passes were tipped? How many were ssssooooo close to being tipped? How many times did a guy pick up his dribble only to watch the rest of the team turn their backs and go the other way? The half-court offensive was mostly dreadful in the 2nd half. We just seemed to lose our ability to break down anyone off the dribble. We just seem to go into these funks where just getting the ball to another player is harder than rooting for Bode Miller. The few times we did get the ball in to Smith or Dickey mostly turned out ok. We just couldn't do it enough. No dribble penetration by the guards. Clearly a good strategy against this team is to pressure the guards way out top.

Well, Coach Hewitt talked about how Buck played much better last couple of games by playing fewer minutes. Well, guess what - he looked tired at the end of this one. Minutes? Try 31. It's obvious 25 is about his max.

A-Mo was so hot in the 1st half. On fire. He led all Jacket scores with 22. But he had a 5-8 minute stetch that was key in the 2nd half where he just seemed to be in a zone. No not a "hot" zone. I mean "zoned". Lack of movement and you could see a certain level of frustration getting the best of him. I hate to say it, but he looked like a beaten man the rest of the way.

Lewis Clinch. Hesitant. Tentative. Lewis, please don't underestimate your ability to break people down off the dribble. You've got it man. Use it.

I haven't said a lot about the coaching this season, but I have to. There are too many games where the opposing coach makes adjustments, and we don't counter. Coach Hewitt has not made excuses for his team's play. He has said when things get tough, he has to look at himself. I agree. What exactly is happening when we just forget how to run a half-court offense? Where are the adustments? Why do our guards forget how to handle overplaying defenses? Why are we running out of timeouts with 12 minutes to go? It's like we're completely willing ourselves to a letdown. Oh, no, it's gonna come. It's gonna come......Here it comes....... and there it is.......

Yes, I know we had 31 fouls called against us and UNC only had 16. The truly strange thing was that at the half it was about 24-7 and we had a nice lead. Complain all you want. It wasn't officiating that lost this game. It was composure. It was playmaking. It was coaching.

Folks, the Georgia Tech YellowJackets went into the Dean Center and dropped a 20 point lead on the Tarheels. Yes, UNC is young too, but let's give some credit for that play early. The talent is there. It is absolutely there. They just haven't meshed the individual talent with a higher level of team chemistry and the playbook. Put those things together and watch out. It's crazy to say that this team has as much overal talent as anyone in the ACC. However, I say it's true. I believe it.

Hang with these boys. They'll get it. They're trying. All of the points above are highlighting this game - one game. I tell you though - I like these kids. There is some real character there. Appreciate the struggles they are going through trying to put the pieces together. It will pay off at some point in the future. I really believe that.