There are still some things to look forward to, as the Jackets start ACC Tournament play on Wednesday versus Boston College. In the meantime, let's take a look at some of the expectations for the season and how the team performed.
This was my list of personal goals for this team:
- Over .500 overall record for the season
- .500 record in ACC play
- Back to back ACC wins
- Make a post-season tournament (preferably the big show)
At first glance, we did not have the season we were looking for. We almost satisfied one of the four, almost went .500 and post-season is technically still up in the air. Tech went 15-16 overall, with a 6-12 record in the ACC. They had a few close losses- one in OT at NC State, two versus Clemson, and one against Notre Dame. This team was notorious for playing well in the first half against basically all teams except Duke(which is the strongest first half team in the ACC with an average of +10 pts. in the first half). Unfortunately however, this team doesn't seem to have the gas (maybe focus) to stick with strong ACC team for a full 40 minutes.
Good news is Gregory captured his first back-to-back ACC wins, beginning with surprising one of the best teams in the nation at Syracuse. I'm proud that the team was able to finally achieve this milestone. Congrats guys!
I personally believe that this team is very well coached and a great unit when healthy. That is the biggest issue though- healthy. We lost freshman PG Travis Jorgenson early in season to a knee injury, Robert Carter Jr. was hurt until recent, and Jason Morris was hurt twice- the second time in the middle of ACC play that ended his season. Trae Golden has been nursing a hamstring injury that seems to still bother him at times, and Chris Bolden never seemed to really get going consistently after missing the first 3 games of the season for violating team rules. Also, Solomon Poole was released from the team. The Jackets were seeing 7 or 8 scholarship players available to play for multiple games in the heart of ACC play. To me, this team has shown great resilience when faced what I consider to be the definition of adversity. They are a great group of guys.
Looking at the team's performance quantitatively, we still struggle in a few areas. We seem to be doing much better shooting FT's, Gregory has developed a strong defensive team that, for the most part, rebounds exceptionally well, and the team pushes the ball great in transition under the control of Trae Golden. The issue that I still see with this team is that they never really seem to be in unison on the offensive front. Against both VT and Syracuse, they broke the zone defense very well and showed their potential, but most games this season were full of players standing around, setting lazy screens not really creating opportunities. Many times we rely very heavily on Trae, Marcus and Daniel for offensive performance. That is fine and all, until they get tired or in foul trouble. USUALLY, three players cannot win a basketball game. With Robert Carter Jr. back in the lineup some strain can be taken off other players, but the bench needs to play better in the coming week if they want to have a Cinderella story.
So we are left with a team that has a lot of potential, a team that CAN score and CAN play good defense, but struggles to play complete games. When they play complete games, they lead against Syracuse for the last 33 minutes of the game (40 minute games). As the team enters into the post season, with ACC Tournament play starting on Wednesday, I do think they have momentum. Do I think they can win the ACC? I'm going to be honest and say it's quite a long shot. The Jackets need a fire under them, some sort of spark that can get them going for the next week or so. They have all of the necessary tools to win (might need a little luck), but just as college basketball shows us again and again, nothing is impossible.
Here is the draw for the ACC Championship. We have one of the toughest paths to the ship. We play Boston College at first and need to three-peat them. That test is followed by Gregory's kryptonite vs. Clemson. IF we can get through both of those games, we face, in my opinion, the best team in the ACC, the Duke Blue Devils. Three completely different teams, playing three completely different styles of offense. And all of THAT is just to see the semi finals!?!
But let's not get ahead of ourselves, we have to beat Boston College first. And with that, I will leave you until Tuesday's pre-game article. Say your basketball prayers, because I think post-season play is a long shot at the current moment.