Coming off of an impressive win against Miami, Georgia Tech fans were excited for the team's future. Not only had they prevailed late in the game with a put back from Marcus Georges-Hunt, they had stuck with the No.6 ranked Miami for most of the game. And this is nothing new, the Jackets have had close games against UNC (first time, second time was an embarrassment), NC State, and Duke. They have also lost to VT in overtime and two 3 point losses against Clemson. An interesting stat for Tech fans- Tech has lost every game after an ACC win this season. We can't seem to get a streak going. Obviously, in order to be a successful team this must change.
Something that Gregory seems to continue to note before and after games is an idea called "Under 8" Gameplay. He talks about in the Wes Durham Miami Post Game around 0:53 mark. In the losses previously mentioned against UNC, NC State, and Duke, the final score was a loss by more than 10 after the games had been close with about 8 minutes left. This loss is similar to the early season loss to Illinois, where an injury by Mfon around 8 minutes left began an impressive Illinois 3-point shooting finish after the game had been close at the 8 minute mark.
All of these games changed with 8 minutes left, followed by a Tech loss. In the Miami win last week, the last 8 minutes was completely different. Rather than giving up a lead, they rallied and put themselves in a competitive position entering the last few minutes. This seems to be the deciding factor in Tech's play. Their performance with 8 minutes left determines whether or not they will win the game.
Let's take two games, Miami on the road and Boston College on the road. Both games are on the road, but Miami, attempting to clench ACC Postseason #1 for the first time ever, seems to be the tougher of the two games. Not to mention, No.6th ranked Miami and Boston College aren't quite the same caliber team right now. But with 8 minutes left, Tech had two similar, but different situations.
1) Against Miami at the 8 minute mark, Tech was on a 10-2 scoring streak, Miami up 2.
2) Against BC at the 8 minute mark, Boston College was on a 10-4 scoring streak, BC down 2.
These are two completely different opponents, one with historic season numbers, the other a season similar to ours. At the 8 minute mark, these are both a one score game. The thing is, entering the 8 minutes left mark, the momentum is key. If at 8 minutes you had to predict which of the two teams Tech would beat, you would assume that a two point game against an easier team would be the win versus the two point deficit against a Miami team. Complete opposite.
So what does this mean? I know a lot of people point to scoring, but I don't think that's the main issue. We have just a little worse than the national average for scoring, but our defense is not as much of a fluke as critics said after our OOC schedule. We have continued our strong defense even in ACC play, currently ranking in the top 30 in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. Where we lack in scoring, we make up for (by a lot) in defense. This is a strong defensive team.
Sure, we don't have a "go-to" player, but we have one of the most balanced teams in the ACC in terms of scoring. Chris Bolden, Marcus Georges-Hunt, Robert Carter Jr., Kammeon Holsey, and Daniel Miller have all contributed to scoring. Along with that, we have consistent contribution from our bench. I couldn't find national statistics for bench scoring, but calculated Tech's. We average 17.83 points from our bench, approximately 28% of our total average scoring. The season high for the bench was against Maryland, where the bench recorded 29 of our 78 points. Guess what, we won that game.
It's not like Tech can't compete with these teams, because they have shown us they can. Watching these games, we could argue match ups, but Tech has seemed to compete against all types of offensive and defensive teams.
What do y'all think??
Do you think the Jacket's "Under 8" performance determines their success?
Is it the Jackets lack of experience that causes them to have such varied results?
Is it the gameplay? Should Gregory be stressing different things with this team? An interesting concept is mention is the Wes Durham interview where Wes states that the final drive with Georges-Hunt is very "anti-Izzo" (Gregory started as an Assistant under Izzo's Michigan State). I want to look into this more, because Izzo's influence can definitely be seen in Gregory's coaching style.
Do we think that the Jackets can compete with these strong teams consistently with a more balanced team rather than just a few key players?
Can we surprise Tech fans this weekend?