Once again, it’s a bunch of nothing other than Women’s Basketball. But that’s okay, because they had an interesting week.
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS — Yes, folks, it’s that time of year, where I make the annual trek back up to Chicago. In better times, From the Rumble Seat would have been able to make the trek over to South Bend to see the ladies live at Notre Dame this season, but instead, it’s a big couch and ACC Network Extra for yours truly.
I don’t have much of my usual intro, here, though. I had one half written, but then the Pitt game happened and some of it went straight out the window. And I didn’t feel like retooling it to force it to fit Instead, in the meantime, I’ll do a bit of haranguing (support your local and small businesses - even the ones that are based primarily online, like, say a purveyor of fine nostalgia-inducing collegiate shirts and such), a bit of reminding (women’s basketball is playing well, don’t forget to tune into them as you look for hoops over the holidays), and a bit of appreciating (our varsity athletes are working really hard to refine their craft and put on games in a time that is very stressful and has even more expectations and regulations than their usual extreme amount). We may have had Thanksgiving already, but its important to realize that, in the end, these people are just that - young adults, balancing school, athletics, and a pandemic - and to have sports at all right now is a gift.
Last Week on the Flats
Women’s Basketball (4 - 1)
Well, it’s time for some honesty - I did not watch the Boston College game on Wednesday. Finals! Woo! Apparently, that’s a crying shame, because, to borrow a phrase from the writers’ slack, the game, which was played at 11 AM at McCamish, was an absolute boat race, and Boston College was leaking gas and taking on water. The final score was 86-68, but that was closer than the game truly was. The Eagles were able to come back nine points in the fourth, as Tech put the game into cruise. It was Lotta-Maj Lahtinen who took her turn to wake up this game, as she poured in 27 points in a valiant effort, probably the best in her career on the Flats. Tech scored 30 points from 3-point land, upping their season average to 6.0 per game. This would prove a theme of the week. Lorela Cubaj continued her strong play - a must if Tech is going to see success in the ACC this season - and Loyal McQueen, such a vaunted recruit, has really continued to grow on both sides of the ball. I think I mentioned Eylia Love as the pleasant surprise of the season, and I think this remains true this week. She remained in double figures against Boston College, and, at the time of writing, some time in the second half of the Notre Dame game, she continues to move the ball well. Of course, we expect Tech to play well at home, and we expect them to be able to handle the mid-tier and bottom of the league. It is here where they’ll have to take care of business, as the top of the conference is once again elite.
It’s here that I’ll remind you of the recruiting class Coach Nell Fortner signed this year:
#25 (CSM) / #33 (ESPN) Anaya Boyd
#85 / #62 Eylia Love
#86 / #64 Avyonce Carter
#94 / #69 Loyal McQueen (South Carolina Player of the Year)
We’ll come back to this after we talk Notre Dame.
Georgia Tech got off to a blazing start in the first quarter in this game. It was to the point that dear old Akshay and I were memeing that the game was already over, more or less. Of course, this absolutely wasn’t true, and Notre Dame made adjustments, shut down the paint, and closed the backdoor baseline move that is part of Tech’s bread and butter. In the meantime, it was up to Tech to keep it close and make adjustments. They did both. Sarah Bates, in particular, was on fire from behind the three point arc. One in particular stood out, where she was at about 10:00 (if the arc was half of a clock) about six feet behind the men’s three point line, and absolutely drilled it. The net hardly moved. It was beautiful. When I began covering this team in 2017, they played a supremely physical brand of basketball, attacking the paint and doing most of their scoring from short range. Threes, outside of a Francesca Pan-sized exception, were hard to come by. This team, which made ten more three pointers in this game, is the opposite. Bates and Lahtinen in particular - but not only them - are huge threats from basically anywhere within a half mile of the basket. This, in turn, opens up the lane for Cubaj and Hermosa to work beneath the basket and for McQueen and her immense speed and momentum, to attack on the dribble and drive. Though Tech closed the first quarter four points back, they were able to tinker, take the lead in the second, and pour on points in the third quarter. They once again started out fast, a refreshing change from older Georgia Tech teams.
My one qualm, which carries over from the game against Athens - make free throws. They’re free points. Just do it. Make it rote. Otherwise, there are no qualms to be found for this team. They looked shaky at times against Athens - their only loss, which also came in overtime - and they played Tulane took close for comfort. But apart from that, Tech has looked perhaps even better than they did last year. They haven’t missed a beat. And they’ve done this with no contribution from their starting point guard of the last three years and the five star recruit who is certainly the best incoming player of the whole bunch. Go back to the recruiting class list. You’ll notice that we haven’t even gotten to talk about Boyd yet this year. Yep, that’s what I meant.
Here’s the summary - they mesh well as a team and make adjustments, their playing styles complement one another and open up the floor, with key pieces injured, the rest of the team has found their groove and has started to step up offensively to not solely rely on a monster performance from Cubaj or Lahtinen, and they’ve been excellent on the glass, drawing fouls on both sides of the ball, and hustling out 50/50 balls and making big plays. College Sports Madness put them at #27 in the country and #5 in the conference in the preseason. Bracketology had them on the no. 8 in their way-too-early projection of the NCAA field. But Real Time RPI had them at #10 and #3 SOS - before the Notre Dame game.
Oh, and this was Tech’s first-ever win against Notre Dame. And it came on the road. Sure, they have a loss to Ohio (who, like ND, received a few down-ballot votes) and another to no. 19 Michigan, and they’re not the Muffet McGraw powerhouse they were even two years ago, but a win against a solid, if slightly inconsistent, Notre Dame team is a good win. Heck, any win against Notre Dame with the history this program has against them is a good one.
So, all in all, this was a great week for the Yellow Jackets, even if we only had one team in action. We can hang our hats on that.
Top Three of the Week
- Fall 2020 Commencement - Student Athlete Graduates and Memories
- ACC-B1G Challenge Recap
- Tech Gets Screwed: A Tragedy in Four Quarters, or, Why Pitt Should be a Rival
This Week on the Flats
Three men’s games and one for women’s basketball. Both teams are riding multi-game win streaks, including a pair of Power 5 road wins. But, for the men, circle the Florida State game in Tallahassee on Tuesday, while the ladies host Miami on Thursday night.
Poll of the Week
Irrational Baksetball Hate:
This poll is closed