Ken Sugiura described tonight's Yellow Jacket win as "lackluster," and while that's not usually the word you use to describe an 18-point win; that's certainly how this game felt.
The game started off great. Tech was being aggressive on offense, scoring on fast breaks on multiple possessions (they ended up with 14 fast-break points) and using Trae Golden as an effective weapon in the lanes. Multiple guys were involved in the offense and the team was moving the ball around effectively, whether that was in transition or around the perimeter. The defense was doing its job well too; Daniel Miller blocked two inbounds passes in the first half and Robert Carter recorded four of his five blocks in the first 20. Tech even showed a little full-court press early on and had their hands in their guy's faces the whole game. Things turned sour in the second half. The Delaware State Hornets starting spreading the Tech defense out with rapid ball movement and some improved three point shooting and got within eight points of the Jackets. However, Tech turned it up with a 9-0 run at that point, and that was all she wrote.
Note: This section really should be titled "the improved," since we're only two (three?) games into the season and we don't really know what we're "good" at yet. So we can draw our best conclusions by comparison to last year's team.
- Trae Golden: Man alive, I have never been so happy to see a transfer student. The man is a bull on the drive, he just puts his head down and rumbles on in for an easy layup. Golden finished the evening with 16 points while shooting 70% from the field and 2-2 at the charity stripe. Chas pointed out that this will come in handy in close games where we need to draw a foul, and Trae seems very comfortable with this role. Golden star for you, sir.
- Free Throw Shooting: speaking of the charity stripe, the Jackets made good friends with it tonight; shooting 18-20 from the line. Clearly FTs were a point of emphasis in the offseason.
- Handy Play: The Jackets were very active with their hands tonight, which is always good to see. They consistently made an effort to get a hand in a guy's face on defense and stole 5 balls thanks to an alert appendage or two. What really impressed me the most though, is how Tech was able to keep their hands off guys and show the refs that were not in violation of the new (horribly overbearing) hand-check rules. When you can impart that level of self-control in your players; that's how I know you're a good coach.
- Fast Breaks: I've never seen so many in one game under Gregory. He was not kidding around when he said that he wanted to up the tempo this season.
- Second Half Defense: the guys got a little frazzled when the Hornets started to move the ball around and got more aggressive on the picks. Tech didn't look tired, they just looked...disorganized.
- Rebounding: Tech got beat on the offensive boards 11-4. In fairness, they didn't miss as many shots as the Hornets (Tech shot 50%) so they had less chances to get a rebound on offense. Still, four offensive boards and five second chance points isn't going to get it done against ACC defenses when the team is going to be shooting...not 50%.
How 'bout you, Tech fans? Did you like what you saw last night? What harbingers do you think this game has for ACC play?