Thursday, March 08, 2007

Hoops - Absolutely Epic

The drama........... oh, the drama............. In what can only be described as an epic battle, the Jackets fall OOOOOHHHHH so short in a double-overtime heartbreaker 114-112. Anthony Morrow made the clutch 3pt shot to send it into double OT, but couldn't knock down the open 2 pt shot to send it to a 3rd OT. While I want to do nothing but tip my cap to 2 teams that played their guts out, I'm just tired and frustrated that once again the Jackets fail to win against a team they should beat - and it happens to NOT be at home again. ................... I'm frustrated that we had a mediocre regular season and now we're out in round 1 of the ACC tourney.

You're up by 2 with a less than a minute and have the ball and then it's 22.7 seconds and you're down by 3. CAN SOMEONE PLEASE GUARD HARVEY HALE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HE'S STILL SHOOTING AND HE HASN'T MISSED YET!!!!! The dude scored 21 of his 22 points in OT. COME ON!!!! GUARD A GUY PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Uhm, also, Wake was 16-23 from behind the arc. That's just plain sick........... and Hale was the sickest of them all.......... and the Jackets can now get plenty of rest because they're going home.

So, did the late night waiting game impact these teams? It's probably safe to say yes based on the 1st half. It's tough to hang around all day and then have to start at 9:30 after an overtime game. When these teams combined for 29 turnovers in the first half, you have to think it's not all just great defense. But things sure changed in the 2nd half.........................

So how many minutes can one team dribble around the perimeter? How long can one guy dribble around without passing? Obviously that is what Coach Hewitt wanted to find out in the first half, because they did it over and over and over. Wake put big guys on JC and guess what - they muscled him up and kept him out high most of the time. When he wasn't dribbling, Mario West was doing an admirable job of carrying out the same plan. I think the key 1st half number was 4 team assists against 15 buckets, and throw in 13 turnovers - and the Jackets were outrebounded in the half as well.............. The only real savior for the Jackets was 17 1st half turnovers by Wake. Sloppy, sloppy and very sloppy. The Jackets played active defensively but there were a number of breakdowns that led to easy buckets.

All-in-all this cannot be classified as a defensive powerhouse game, as Wake shot a blistering 64% for the game, 70% from behind the arc, and incredibly enough only 63% from the stripe. Go figure. The Jackets shot 56% for the game, and 53% from behind the arc. I give Wake all the credit in the world.

Uhhmmm. Ok guys. When you get the ball in the backcourt and it's your job to dribble up court and you see two guys getting ready to trap you, how about NOT dribbling right up to them? Because you know........... you get trapped. I counted about 5 different times in the first half when our guys did that. Luckily they figured things out a little better in the 2nd half.

How many stinkin 3pt shots can one team make? Well, it's directly proportional to the number of wide open ones they get. Wake shot better from long distance than from short range. And darn if they didn't just light it up.............16-23 from long-distance. It's VERY hard to win when that happens.

Both teams had guys who stepped up and made plays at critical times, and both teams had guys who didn't make plays. In some cases it was the same guy at different times. There were too many key plays to count, but the bottom line is that Harvey Hale was the difference tonight. A-Mo was admirable hitting very key shots when it counted and JC was clutch at the end of the game, but Hale was the guy tonight who was the difference.

Sssssooooooo ya think Thad was a little upset at not making the all rookie ACC team? Maybe, maybe not. But he sure showcased why the Carolina-biased media doesn't know what they're doing. He ends the night with 30 pts on 10-19, 4 boards, 1 assist, 1 steal. However, he kind of faded into the background a bit at the end of the game. When that guy plays aggressive he's very good. He just has a tendency to disappear for stretches. But you can see what makes him special.

Could it be that Alade is going to become something special? Could it be that this was the year that he grew up and realized the responsibility that comes with being a student-athlete? If the later part of the season is any indication, the answer would be yes. Before fouling out, Alade had a superb game, with a career high 17 pts on 7-7 from the field. He also grabbed 8 boards, including 4 offensive ones. Throw in a couple of blocks and 2 steals and it was a nice night for the young man. I tell you what, he has some absolutely intriguing capabilities. Along with his length and athleticism, he has a knack for finding open space and he has a darn nice looking jump shot. Darn nice looking. He should be a serious bright spot next season.

I'm not sure you can really say any loss in the ACC is an upset. But today every lower seed in the ACC tourney won. Hopefully that will go a long way with the NCAA selection committee towards the Jackets getting a bid. But make no mistake - the Jackets are on the bubble. Do not assume they are a lock to get a bid - even though I put the odds somewhere around 75%. However, it's no longer in the team's hands.

So what will be written about this season? We won't know until the final shot is made by Tech. Odds are good it will be the big dance, but we will see. However, it is safe to say this was a disappointing regular season as once again Coach Hewitt's squad floated in the middle of the pack and had to finish strong to get there. It was a ride that saw the lows of a 4-game losing streak, the continued road losing streak (which was finally ended at FSU), and the huge loss of Lewis Clinch. However, it was also fun to watch the development of special talents in Javaris Crittenton and Thaddeus Young and see the potential of guys like Aminu and Peacock. Both JC and TY really stepped up their games towards the end of the season and it previews good things for next season.............................. if they're here of course...............

Bottom-line is that the regular season had some great highlights, but on the whole was disappointing because we didn't compete at the top and now the ACC tournament is disappointing because we're out in round 1. So what will the big dance bring? If we're in it, it's the last hurrah - the last chance to put a stamp on this campaign. Let's keep our fingers crossed that the selection committee doesn't have a huge problem with our road record.

However, with all that negative slant - kudos to the squad for continuing to battle back and never giving up. If you'd played 100% the whole game it may have ended differently. However, the season is not over....................

Stay focused............ keep you chin up............... and