ATLANTA, GEORGIA — It seems that time stands still lately, until the point that it starts moving all too fast. The holiday season seems to have been yesterday, but baseball feels like it starts tomorrow. I think nowhere was that realization more evident than yesterday. It is always a great time when the sports start to overlap. February and March, with basketball still in season, but tennis, softball, and baseball gracing the Flats, too, is a busy time, to be sure, but a rewarding one, too. As I write this, it is a beautiful morning in Atlanta, and, as I went to men’s tennis yesterday to do a little reconnaissance, it was a beautiful day yesterday, too. Perhaps I am but a Northerner, but this feels like April to me, while folks who made a less fortunate weather-related decision shiver in single-digit temperatures up in the Midwest. We will see who is laughing in the summer, though.
Regardless of the weather, it should be of note that Softball starts on Friday. The more, the merrier! If you’d like to see a preview of that team, head on over to this week’s edition of Scions of the Southland for more words on the team than I could ever hope to type with any sense of coherency and direction. You can even use the “Listen to this Article” feature to read the rest of the article the podcast is embedded in, if you are so auditory inclined.
Last Week on the Flats
Women’s Basketball (11-4 Overall, 2-1 Last Week)
Polls - AP: RV / Coaches: RV
Nerd Stuff - NET: #25 / RPI: #18
Well, they’re rocketing up the voter tallies, as they sit just a few spots shy of a top 25 ranking for the first time in, well, it has been a long time. Meanwhile, the coaches, slower to come around, gave Tech a single vote, so, well, that’s something.
Unlike last edition, Tech had quite a busy week this week as they hosted three ACC foes at McCamish. Syracuse, the first up, is a fringy top 25 team, and probably the best team Tech faced on the week. Having gotten up close and personal to that game, it can definitely be said that it was a gutty, hard-fought game. The Jackets came out of the gates on fire in this one, giving this intrepid reporter home that they may have an outside shot at the century mark. However, after a hot first quarter, Tech settled back down and Syracuse slowly came back. The trend continued into the third quarter, and by the halfway point of the second half, the Orange trailed by just 6 and the game’s outcome was very much in doubt. However, Tech was able to stay ahead and make baskets when they needed to, before fouls became necessary for their guests and the game was put out of reach.
As for the second game, well, let’s just say it was a heck of a preview to what the men’s team would turn around and do two days later. However, in this edition, the team actually had built a five point halftime lead, before watching that wilt in the second half. With two minutes to play, Tech was staring down the wrong end of a nine point deficit. However, through a heavy hand of magic, sheer willpower, and confidence under pressure, the team stepped up to close the gap and take a lead into the final possession. Much can and should be said about the play of Loyal McQueen down the stretch, because it was exactly what they needed to climb back into it. Both the Syracuse game and the Clemson games were games that past Tech teams wilt and lose. Not so much this week. Balanced scoring, excellent rebounding, and lock-down defense when it mattered most made the difference here. One could acknowledge the rather floppy tendencies of a Clemson player or two, but we won the game, and I have much more significant gripes with the referees in the next game, so I’ll leave that Pandora’s box unopened. For now.
Okay, time to open it. The Wake Forest game was bizarre. The officiating crew didn’t call anything the first half, and very little in the third quarter, but in the fourth? It was like Christmas morning and they all just got whistles in their stockings. Tech played 8 on 5 the whole quarter. I could keep going, I was quite upset. From doing nothing different from the first half, Tech was suddenly being penalized left and right for fouls that seemed not all that, well, existent. It shows in the box score as rather lopsided, too, as 13 of Wake’s 20 fourth quarter point came from the foul line, and they were awarded ten more trips to the line than Tech, including a pair of occasions where there was a clear foul committed by the Demon Deacons. It was extremely frustrating. Typing that was cathartic. Of course, Tech didn’t do a great job of capitalizing on the few trips to the line they got, and there was clear fatigue in the short lineup, surely rooted on the three game stint in six days and compounded by injuries, most critically to Sarah Bates. Having her back would really spread the defense again.
Anyways, the loss wasn’t critical to Tech’s NCAA hopes or anything, but it was definitely frustrating. They only have one game again this week - scheduling, woo! - but it’s against Louisville, so we will have to wait and see on that game, which will undoubtedly be a high-stakes matchup.
No. 6 Women’s Tennis (7-2 Overall, 1-2 This Week)
It’s never too fun to see a losing record in a given week, though Tech has about as good of an excuse as anyone for it. They spent the weekend against some high quality competition in Stillwater, Oklahoma at ITA Indoors. In the first match, Tech came out strong against a Pepperdine team missing their best singles player, but was unable to close it out after a strong start. Notably, Rosie Garcia Gross fought valiantly on Court 6 to try to salvage a point, and faced match point 8 times (and a big, bright window countless more) before falling in the 9th one. In the second day, Tech came down to the wire against a solid Ohio State team, 4-3, and there’s really no complaints to be had there with how they played. It was a tough match, and, were it not for a few more breaks, they probably could have had it. It is no coincidence that the last place we ran into either team was NCAA and ITAs. They are good programs. On Sunday, Tech got one more in against the host, Oklahoma State, and that was a solid 4-3 win. Though the hosts were down a few players on the weekend, so was Tech, and this was a good result from an alternate lineup. Tech will now return to normal play and start their conference slate.
Men’s Tennis (3-2 Overall, 0-2 This Week)
It was a pair of tough matches against respectable SEC foes this week for Tech. In the first match, they were on the road in Athens, and fell 4-2. In that one, Tech’s points came from Marcus McDaniel and Andres Martin. Though McDaniel has an obvious consideration for player of the week for being the only Jacket to notch a win against South Carolina on Sunday, which was an excellent bought, Martin managed to knock off #9 singles player in the country Trent Bryde. So, even in the tough losses, there was quite the highlight. On to next week.
No. 20 Golf
Tech had their best showing of the year this year out on the big island of Hawaii this week at the Amer Ari Invitational. Noah Norton and Connor Howe played fantastically, shooting a -6 and -5 on the week. For the second tournament in a row, Bartley Forrester also played superbly, carding a -3. However, Forrester wasn’t on the scoring lineup for the Jackets, so his didn’t count towards the team score, and Tech was more than the five stroke swing that would have represented from moving to second place. Alas! Anyways, good signs for the Jackets, and it will be exciting to see them back in action again in two weeks.
Track and Field
Andrew Kent lead the way back in Columbia, as his excellent 3k run shattered the indoor team record, and landed him among the nation’s best. He is just the latest (and one of several others in Columbia) who have times competitive on the national stage as championship season starts to approach. Meanwhile, the women’s cross country team sits at #14 in the latest Coaches Poll. Excellent work!
Best of the Week
This Week on the Flats
Virginia and Clemson men’s basketball are both huge games for this bubble team. Meanwhile, the women play the best team in the country. So, yeah, it’s a big week for basketball. Although, might be worth carving out time for the Softball home opener, too.
Poll of the Week
Best part of the Super Bowl?
This poll is closed
Tracy Morgan commercials
The Weeknd show
The Weeknd memes