Dec. 21, 2008
By Simit Shah –
Los Angeles, Calif. – Against the picturesque backdrop of the Pacific Ocean, the Yellow Jackets seemed a little more interested in the scenery outside than the basketball game taking place inside Firestone Fieldhouse on Pepperdine’s Malibu campus.
An inept opening four-minute stretch saw the Jackets turn the ball over four times, miss three of their first four shots and fall behind 8-2 against a Pepperdine team that had lost 10 straight games.
Alade Aminu wasn’t happy, and he was ready to do something about it. After a Tech timeout, the senior intercepted a pass in the backcourt and drove the length of the court to draw a foul on a layup attempt. Aminu would connect on only one of two free throws, but it sparked a 27-8 run that saw Tech take control of the game.
“That play got us going,” said coach Paul Hewitt. “I thought he made a couple of plays after we went to the (full-court) pressure. It kick-started us and set the tone for the rest of the half.”
Aminu finished the game with team highs in both points (18) and rebounds (11). It was the Stone Mountain native’s fourth double-double of the season and helped pace the Jackets 86-58 rout of the Waves in front of 979 fans, at least half of whom were west coast Tech supporters.
“Alade is getting more and more consistent,” noted Hewitt. “He’s a talented player, and for us to be a tournament caliber team, he’s got to be consistent play in and play out.”
“You can’t read too much into one game, but we’re coming together,” Aminu explained. “We play inside-out, so having Brad (Sheehan) coming off the bench gives us another option with Gani (Lawal) and me. With Lewis (Clinch) shooting the way he is, I think everything is coming together pretty well. We’ll get Moe (Miller) back soon, so we’re going to have a lot of pieces.”
Aminu said that team got an emotional boost from a hospital visit with teammate D’Andre Bell on Friday. The senior guard underwent back surgery in Los Angeles earlier in the week.
“It was great to see him,” said Aminu. “We keep him in our prayers. He’s going to be at the (Southern Cal) game, so we’ll be glad to see him there. We need to pull out the `W’ for him. He and I have been here four years together, so we’re close. It was really good to see him, and he is doing fine.”
The Jackets complete their West Coast swing Monday night against Southern Cal before taking a break for Christmas.
“It feels good to come out here and get a win,” said Aminu. “Our focus was to come here and get a W. We have another one on Monday, and our goal isn’t going to be accomplished until we take two wins back to Atlanta.”