Friday, November 10, 2006

Hoops - Jackets Start the Season Right

Well, I watched the game on the new internet broadcast. At first I was really disappointed in the video, but I was trying to access it wirelessly. I went to the base PC, turned off everything draining bandwidth and voila - a solid, nice feed. I was pretty impressed actually. As it turns out my $4 single event pass was expanded to a month long pass to get the service jump-started. Pretty cool as there is ACC stuff on almost every night.

A bonus was that Marvin Lewis was the color man on the broadcast! Pretty cool. At halftime he and the terrible play-by-play guy (who flunked out of GT and finished at Southern Tech as he recalled) talked about the academic support at Tech. Marvin gave a glowing report on the support systems and personal help to get through and get a degree. Marvin also talked about how great it was to have the student SWARM section surround you, particularly when you dove out-of-bounds. Marvin also flashed his NCAA National Championship Game ring. Didn't know they got some bling for playing UConn. Cool though - he was real proud of it. All in all I'd say Marvin did a solid job. Not too many awkward pauses. He just may have a career in broadcasting.

So back to the game. The first half ended with the Jackets firmly in control 38-21. They pushed the tempo a lot, ran up and down the floor and scored a lot of points inside the paint. Defense was good overall, but a bit sloppy at times. They held Elon to about 31% shooting. They forced 8 first-half turnovers, but only had 1 steal the entire half. Need to get those hands up in the lane more effectively. Tech outrebounded Elon 22-14 in the 1st half, including 10-5 on the offensive glass. Offensively Tech shot 50% in the half, 3-8 from long distance and only 3-6 from the charity stripe.s Assist-to-turnover ratio was 1:1 for the half - not what Coach Hewitt was looking for.

Individually, Thad Young led the way with 10 points on 5-7 from the floor and threw in 4 rebounds (3 offensive). Javaris Crittenton controlled the tempo, but did play a bit sloppy, ending the half with 7 pts on 2-7 shooting, 2 boards, 2 assists and 3 turnovers. Jeremis Smith had a couple of man-sized dunks and ended with 6 pts on 3-4 and 6 boards (2 off). Zach Peacock had a solid blue collar half with 5 pts on 2-3, 3 boards (2 off), 1 assist, 1 turnover. Ra'Sean Dickey played 11 minutes, had no points, 0-2, 2 boards, one assist and one turnover.

The Jackets continued to cruise in the 2nd half, finishing off Elon by a final of 83-49 .............. Elon played better ball early in the 2nd half, but the Jackets went on a short run to stretch the lead to 32 points with 6 minutes to play. It was a mix of inside-outside. At about the 4 minute mark, Coach Hewitt started bring out the reserves including Ty Anderson, who seemed to be a quick crowd favorite. Every time he got the ball there were cheers. Lefty would be proud.

I would give the team a B. They held Elon to 35% shooting, 21% from 3pt range, forced 17 turnovers and had 9 steals. It was clear that this long, athletic team can present problems. It was fun watching guys like M.Faye front the guards out on the perimeter. The team probably bit on too many head fakes, but all-in-all a solid effort

The Jackets outrebounded Elon 44-31, including 17-12 on the offensive glass. However, there were too many breakdowns when it came to boxing out. Many of the rebounds came from out-jumping Elon when we were out of position. The numbers paint a good story, but there's much work to be done here.

Offensively the Jackets shot 51% overall and 33% from 3pt range. They ended with 17 assists and 16 turnovers. Not an outstanding ratio, but not too terrible with all the freshman and such a new mix of players. Ball movement was pretty good, although it's hard to tell against a weaker opponent. We did a decent job of feeding the post and moving the ball around the court.

What is this? Toughness, strength, intimidation, flow, chemistry. I don't want to be too hard for game 1, but I'll recap Coach Hewitt's post-game comments:
- The team did well with the concepts he and staff are trying to teach. They did the technical stuff right. However they didn't display enought of the other things, like toughness, and those things will have to come with experience.
- We are not a strong team physically. We get knocked off a lot of balls
- We run the floor well but it's tough when people are muscling you underneath and scoring
- line-ups - comfortable with the 9 that played the bulk of minutes.

At one point in the 2nd half, you had Faye, Aminu, Dickey, Young and West. Think about that for a minute. Think about the length in that line-up. Not an overally practical line-up in many ways, but wild. ........................... Guys who never made an appearance in the first half and didn't show up until WAY late in the 2nd half - DeAndre Bell, Alade Aminu and Paco Diaw. That was a bit of an eye-opener with Bell and Aminu, and it will be interesting to see if they become odd men out as the minutes tighten. It's looking that way............. In his post-game interview, Wes asked Coach about what he learned about line-ups. Coach Hewitt said that they were very comfortable with the nine guys who got the bulk of minutes tonight and how they play together (JC, TY, MF, RD, MW, LC, AM, JS, ZP). I've always like DeAndre Bell, so I really wonder where he fits on this team.

Javaris Crittenton led the way tonight with 17 pts on 6-13 shooting, 5 boards (3 off), 5 assists, 2 steals and 4 to's. A very good overall debut although a typical freshman turnover ratio. He did a nice job pushing tempo and being physical in the lane with his own drives. Not too much critical to say about his game right now............. Thaddeus Young finished with 15 pts on7-14 shooting, 6 boards (4 off), 1 assist, 1 steal and 2 to's. Some impressive open floor moves and dunks................. Lewis Clinch finished with 14 pts on 6-11, 2 boards. So you had 3 guys in double-figures................... A-Mo only played 16 minutes and scored 6 points, but you know he's going to play a lot when he's eased back into things with the back issues........................... Ra'Sean Dickey deserves some recongition. He didn't start and didn't come in for the first 5 minutes or so, but he leads the team with 8 rebounds. He got a few of those off missed free throws so I don't want to paint a super picture of his glass-work, but a nice effort to show that he has heard what Coach had to say. He scored 4 pts........................ Zach Peocock played a blue-collar type game, muscling in for some good glass work and putbacks. You can see the motor running on this guy all the time.............................. M.Faye had an "Anthony McHenry" type night - 7 pts on 2-5, 4 boards, 1 block, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 turnover. It was fun watching him guard on the perimeter. He's got WAY long arms and does need some additional strength, but he's going to be fun to watch.

You can really see the potential in this group. They are athletic, they are long and they can score. Again, it's going to come down to those things that take effort, passion, sweat, blood and tears - defense and rebounding. There are enough guys on this team now that will push each other that it looks like it's going to work. You can see the glimpses. The key will be finding the right line-ups at the right times, the right match-ups, getting stronger, getting tougher and really getting into a groove playing as a team.

All in all, a great opener and a pretty darn decent online broadcast system. If they broadcast all the non-televised games, I just might subscribe.

GO JACKETS!!!!!!!!