Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hoops - Jackets Take Care of Deacs

Time to head home Deacs. You may have stolen one from us at your house, but you weren't going to do it in ours. Other than a late 2nd half stretch, it was a "comfortable" Jacket victory tonight, as they took down Wake Forest 75-61........ Since the fine folks at ESPNU carried tonight's game, the vast majority of us couldn't see it. Such is life in the wasteland of cable television.
Some thoughts:
Did the Jackets truly play an intense, non-stop 40 minutes of in-your-face ball tonight? From the sounds on the radio, you got the impression that it might have been as close as we've come all season. The Jackets broke out to a 20-6 lead and stretch it to 36-19 late in the 1st half. As is typical in ACC action, Wake made their run, pulled within 3 points, but could do no better. The Jackets finished strong by re-extending their lead and winning by 14 pts.
The Jackets played solid D, particularly in the first half. WF managed to pull up their overall percentages in the 2nd half, but the Jackets force 15 turnovers, 11 coming on steals.
Wake missed 28 shots, and Tech grabbed 23 of those misses. Wake only had 7 live-ball offensive boards (2 were dead ball kind). That's a solid effort and one that Coach Hewitt touched on after the game. In his mind, when we prevent opponents from getting OR's it means we are more focused on doing the little things we need to win - like boxing out. It's a statistical sign to him that the mental focus is there.
The Jackets shoot 49% tonight and 35% from 3pt range. Only JC / A-Mo hit 3pt'ers, going 6-12 combined. Everyone else was 0-5. Key was only 11 turnovers and most of those came in the 1st half. A team assist:turnover ration of 1.6 - that's pretty good.
JC had an all-star game tonight. 22 pts (7-16, 3-6, 5-6), 6 boards (2 off), 9 assists, 3 to's and he played 35 minutes. That my friends is a nice stat line - particularly the dishes. Folks, with JC's last 5-8 games, he has moved himself squarely into consideration for some big ACC honors. It will be virtually impossible to keep him off the All-ACC frosh team, and he's quickly become one of the front-runners for ACC ROY. In addition, if he keeps up this pace, he merits serious consideration for 2nd team All-ACC. You hate to say he's "matured" and past his frosh tendencies. However, life in college hoops these days means you're no longer a frosh at this point in the season.
By "mouse like" I only mean TY scores 17 tonight and you're like - when did he get 17? He really plays with the flow of the game and quietly racks up the stats. He also threw in 4 boards, 2 assists and 3 steals. Very nice effort. If he can continue to play with a high energy - which has not always been there - it really opens things up for a lot of other players on the floor.
7 pts......... 9 boards (4 off).......... No matter who the opponent, you can pretty much count on Jeremis putting up those kind of numbers each night. You know what you're going to get with JS. Probably underappreciated by many.
Coach Hewitt gives 9 guys 10 or more minutes and Faye gets 3 minutes. Bell and Aminu seem to have solidified their place with hard work and results on the court. Coach Hewitt complimented Alade again tonight on his work with Dickey keeping Visser in check.
In the ever-challenging world of managing emotions, expectation, energy and momentum, Coach Hewitt seemed to choose his words carefully after the game. He told Wes that before the game he told the team that "he tought they were close". He reiterated those comments after the game and the fact that we have 3 quality opponents left to make our statement. Kind of like Chan Gailey's ever-repeating "we have a chance to be a good football team". Of course, Hewitt's teams generally perform their best at the end of the season, so who am I to question him?
Folks, the media is out there hyping the ACC, making arguments for getting in 8 and even 9 teams this year. Yes, there will be some things in the ACC's favor - like getting slighted last year. But let me assure you - the ACC will NOT get 9 teams in the big dance. The ACC will not get 8 teams in the dance. My bet is that they won't get 7 teams either. My money is on 6 teams getting in, but what do I know. If it is 6 - then Tech REALLY has some work to do.
Right now UNC, VT, UVA and BC are locks. They're in no matter what they do from here on out. They all have 9 wins................. Duke is sitting at 7-6 with 20 wins on the year. Personally, I think their win over GT gets them in. That's 5................. Next you have Maryland at 6-6 and as I write this is beating FSU handily. Assume they end the night 7-6.............. Next you have Tech at 6-7, (rising), Clemson at 5-7 (and fading), FSU at 5-9 (out).....................
The challenge is that Tech's remaining 3 games are against teams ahead of them in the conference. That means Tech will truly have to show they "got game" to earn they way in. Even then they will have to rely on the selection committee going for 7 ACC teams - a real possibility.
Of course Tech could make the whole exercise moot and just win the ACC tourney. That would be sweet my friends.