The Jackets went into the locker room at half trailing 23-33. With much to work on, the Jackets knew that it was not going to be easy to get back into the game. The team had gone 4-6 from the free throw line, missed a few easy layups, and were out-rebounded everywhere on the floor in the first half. Gregory needed to get his team back to the fundamentals. Coach Jim Larranga said in the post game press conference, "We aren’t denying [the post], as much as clogging." This frustrated many Tech fans, seeing the ball get to the low block just as Miami post players swarmed the Tech bigs and forcing a turnover or bad play.
Scoring was pretty poor from all players for Tech in the first half. Holsey led the team with 7 points. He was one of the only players who seemed to turn it on when he got the ball down low. The team had 7 turnovers in the first half and only one steal. All in all, they needed to pick it up on offense and find a way to penetrate the lane if they were going to get back in the game.
The Jackets and Canes traded scoring throughout the beginning of the second half. With 13 minutes left in the game, Miami extended the lead to 13 points. Over the next 5 minutes, Miami began racking up the points against a flat team with poor ball movement. It seemed like the Jackets were unable to establish any offensive presence over this time. The Canes had extended the lead to 20 with 7:30 left to play in the game. Every time the Jackets got the ball down low, the Canes crashed and forced a turnover or block.
As the time ran down, Solomon Poole was able to keep the intensity alive on the court and didn’t give up, forcing a few turnovers, but the team was still were plagued with easy mistakes such as missed free throws and layups.
FINAL SCORE: 49-62, Miami win.
The best analogy I can think of is the common football phrase, "We got hit in the mouth." We laid down, bled quite a while, and never got up- we never "fought some MO’."
What fans sometimes forget about this team is that we have three key players(more if you consider the Poole bros) who have never played an ACC game until tonight. Everyone, Gregory, Mfon, and Miller, acknowledged it tonight- we need experience. This isn’t a bad thing.. It’s just a fact. We haven’t had to fight down low yet.
That is what the ACC is- ood shooting, and a game dominated by post presence. Neither of which we have quite yet. It will come with time. As Daniel Miller said tonight, "We got a long season. We thought we were going to come out and win today. That just has to be the mentality we have for every game. I mean I think were going to go and win the next game. We just have to get ready and forget this game and know how tough it's going to be." The Jackets will take what they have experienced tonight and become better from it, taking their experience on the road for their next ACC game.
What was good?
Holsey and Bolden established themselves as potential key players in the future in my opinion. Holsey more so a starter than Bolden, and I have thought this all along. He definitely shows intensity when he touches the ball and always seems to try to make something happen. He has seen more minutes lately, and I think it will continue to increase in the future. His ACC experience is something that Carter Jr. unfortunately does not have quite yet which can be vital to the Jackets' success down the road.
What to work on?
Post presence and free throws. There is no reason why we shouldn’t make most, in my opinion all, of our free throws. Tech outsized Miami, yet Miami recorded 5 blocks, disrupting the post play of the Jackets and "clogged the post". They were also outrebounded 40-29. As I said before, we need to rebound better than our opponent if we want to win. That is "our" game and we have to stick to it.
Hopeful for the future:
When Solomon Poole entered the game with 4 minutes left, he forced a steal that ended up turning into a fast break on the other end and he caused Miami to call a timeout after he trapped a Miami guard. I have questioned Solomon’s play so far this season, and when I say so far, I mean 6 games. Yes, he is still learning the offensive scheme that Gregory is trying to run, but he seemed very sloppy and not willing to run the offense in his OOC games. Fortunately, he looked much better against Miami. He was moving the ball well, driving and dishing out to the open 3pt. man, and even knocking down a three toward the end of the game. I think he has more potential contribution than I originally considered for this season. Gregory commented on Solomon saying that he will still need 3 or 4 weeks to understand all the plays. We saw this first hand as Tech called a press play before the end of the game with Solomon in, and he didn’t know what to do, Gregory had to yell and tell he where to go. He just needs time, but he will be a threat soon enough.
All in all, I am still sticking with my gut that the Jackets have more in their tank than they just showed. They know better than to leave that many balls up for the Canes to come down with in the paint. As for the free throws, that is something they have to fix… That is a MAJOR issue right now. When you shoot 10-15 from the charity stripe, you need to realize that it is something that can determine games down the road. The Jackets also shot 32.7% from the field and 27.8% for the 3-pointer. Those are worrisome numbers. SO many shots were forced- they had to force things because the post play was nowhere to be found. They had to make plays out of nothing, something they didn't have to do much of their first 12 games. Carter Jr. and Miller combined for 13 points and 11 total rebounds. That is comparable to Miami’s Kadji, who had 14 rebounds and 11 total points.
Do I think the Jackets will go .500? I still think it is too hard to tell. I want to say yes, but if they play that way all season we will have some problems. Miami Coach Larranga was asked ‘How much can you usually tell from the first conference game?’. He responded, "Whether or not you won or lost… You still have 18 games to play." Coach Larranga spoke about how every team in the ACC plays differently, with different styles and different focuses. He explained, "One game doesn’t have anything to do with the next game or performance… Even your players change."
I think the Jackets got a wake-up call tonight, myself included. The players wanted a win bad, you could tell it in the press conference. It was a depressing sight, not really excited to answer many questions. We hope that the freshmen and the rest of the team can bounce back from this game and take it as a learning experience and nothing more. These next few games are going to be a real learning experience for the Jackets, playing NC State, VT, Duke and UNC. Those teams, along with Miami, are four of the top 5 teams in the ACC for most projections. While I am hopeful for the next few weeks, I think that the Jackets are going to be learning a lot about themselves and the team they can become this season.
Jim Larranga (Miami Head Coach)
"I thought we came up here and played very good defense for 40 minutes."
"Kenny Kadji and Gamble are veteran guys… the right matchup. We had a nice little rotation on the 4/5 when we play against big teams."
"The biggest thing offensively is sharing the ball. This is one thing I was impressed with Georgia Tech when watching film."
"We tried to crown them with a lot of people… Best part about that is that your guards are required to get out on the 3 point shooter… Taking [shots] away with a good close out."
"[The Jackets] normally get inside position and score."Brian Gregory Audio:
Tech returns to action Wednesday on the road against NC State at 8pm.