Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports
Tech finished up non-conference play yesterday against Chattanooga, where they won and extended their win streak to 6 games. So far, Tech has played two "at the time" top 25 teams, Illionis and Cal. Illinois is ranked 11 in this week's AP poll. Other than those two games, Tech has not had the hardest of schedules, currently ranked 7th to last for strength of schedule.
Just because Tech has not played tough teams doesn't mean they aren't a good team. More importantly, just because they haven't played tough teams doesn't mean they haven't learned a lot. Senior PG Mfon Udofia said Wednesday after their win against Chattanooga, "From the start of the season to now, we have grown". They have grown a lot as a team since Tulane over a month ago.
Many viewed Tech's season as a "rebuilding year". However, the Jackets are currently 10-2, with a strong 6 game winning streak during the past month. Many fans are beginning to get excited about the season ahead, hopeful that this strong start will translate to strong ACC play. There is no doubt that the games that the Jackets will play over the next three months will be much more competitive and tough than those these past few games. Mfon Udofia spoke about the ACC, explaining, "Everybody's good... From the top of the ACC to the bottom of the ACC, everyone's good. We've got to bring it each and every night. We can't have those games that we start off sluggish and pick it back up in the second half or late in the first half because in those times we wont be able to come back. "
This is the major point of emphasis that I believe will need to be in the heads of the Jackets from now on if they want to be successful. You can't "plan on coming back"- they've got to hit the court running and not stop until they see 0:00 in the second half. I believe that these first twelve games have been vital for the Jacket's season. Starting ACC play with momentum is exactly what Coach Brian Gregory wanted for his team. The last two times Tech started 10-2 were in 2010 and 2005, both under Paul Hewitt's reign. The teams ended up finishing the season top 30 in the nation, as well as a 10 and 5 seed in March Madness respectively. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let's look at some improvements over the course of the season so far.
CBS Sports shows the Jacket's currently ranked 6th in OPPG, with a 53.5 average.
kenpom.com currently ranks the Jackets highest of any basketball analysis, at 63.
The Jackets ranking in the nation from kenpom.com:
Adj Defensive Efficiency- 14th
Effective Defensive FG%- 6th (40.3%)
Effective Offensive FG%- 152th
**This stat, offensive FG%, is something that has gotten much better. We have moved above the National average of 48.2% for the first time this season.
Some things we need to work on:
3P%- 271th (30.7 %- national average 33.4%)
FT%- 285th (64.3%- national average 68.8%)
Strength of schedule: 340th out of 347 teams
So what can we understand from this? Our defense is good.. No question. One thing that worries me though is the fact that we have a strong "defensive" FT%(13th in the Nation) with our opponents having an average of 62.8%. THIS DOESN'T MEAN ANYTHING BUT THE TEAMS WE PLAY AREN'T SHOOTING WELL!! This worries me about the defensive FG% and OPPG that many base defensive success on. Had opponents had a high free throw percentage, and a low FG %, we could say that Tech makes teams miss. My worry is that these rankings don't mean much because the teams we have been playing haven't been good shooting teams.
One other category that Tech has grown in success has been shooting the ball. As I said before, we have constantly grown in shooting percentage throughout the season, and after 6 home games, the team has been able to develop not only in the shooting game, but working together as well as succeeding in the offense.
In my opinion, Tech will be a stronger team than many are projecting. Will they have this strong of a defense during ACC play? Most likely not as dominate, but they have begun the necessary work to be consistent each and every game, from beginning to end... After watching the team's progression over the past 6 games, I think that by the end of the season, Tech will be successful not only in games they are supposed to win, but also games that are more competitive, against the best teams of the ACC.
LET'S HEAR YOUR OPINION! Comment below.
Here is the audio from the Chattanooga game Post Game Press Conference: