Last night Tech fans got their first look at Pastner’s first team against D2 Shorter. Unfortunately, it did not go very well. The Jackets found themselves down late in the game. GT was finally able to retake the lead on a Quinton Stephens jumper with 42 seconds left. As was a theme tonight, Shorter star Phil Taylor hit a three to retake the lead with little time left. Tadric Jackson saved the Jackets by drawing the foul and hitting both clutch free throws to send the game into overtime. Once in overtime, the Yellow Jackets took over like they should have all game. They ended up winning 95-87.
At this point I would like to make a disclaimer. This was only an exhibition game. It means nothing. Teams approach these games with very different attitudes. For instance, Syracuse loses their exhibition nearly every year and then are fine in the regular season. They focus on concepts and putting players in uncomfortable situations instead of winning. I don’t know how Pastner approached this game, we will have to wait and see how we look in the real games.
That being said, there are some takeaways from this game. I’ll start with some positives. First, they won. After watching the Yellow Jackets lose close game after close game under Brian Gregory, it is nice to see them win a game when they needed to make plays late in the game.
A second positive was that two of our three best players played very well. Ben Lammers was 9-10 from the field for 20 points to go along with 12 rebounds. The most promising effort though was from Tadric Jackson. My two keys for him this year is smarter shot selection and getting to the line. He was 9-10 from the field and earned 11 free throws (he made 9) for 27 points. We are going to need him to keep his efficiency up as the year goes on. He was certainly the player of the game.
Now we get to the negatives. This team let Phil Taylor score 37 points on on 12-29 shooting. This team will need to clamp down defensively and not let one player dominate them. This exposed the fact that this team does not have a shut down wing defender who can take out an opposing player.
On offense, this team had twenty turnovers. Against Shorter. Yes, our starting point guard was suspended, but that is unacceptable. They need to take better care of the ball.
The most disappointing player yesterday was definitely Quinton Stephens. He scored only 11 points on 5-15 shooting and 2 rebounds in 40 minutes. He needs to step it up offensively if GT is going to surprise people this year.
The worst part of the game was the three point shooting. Georgia Tech did not hit a single three pointer all game, going 0-14. That will not cut it. Stephens alone went 0-8. This team has only one above-average three point shooter in Kellen McCormick (0-1), but they have to be able to get some perimeter game going. This was probably the scariest part of the game.
This team now only has a handful of games to work on some of these issues before they take on Tennessee Tech in their opener on Friday.