Dec. 12, 2010
By Jon Cooper
As the Georgia Tech’s women’s basketball team goes head long into exam week, it knows that it has already passed its first test of the season,
Head coach MaChelle Joseph’s squad stands at 7-4 after 11 games. While that’s two games off last season’s pace, the 2010-11 Yellow Jackets might actually be ahead of last year’s team when it comes to experience gained against quality competition and mental toughness.
As the team enjoys its break — as much as you can enjoy final exams — Sting Daily casts an eye back on the first 11 games and how that bodes for the final five games of non-conference play and the ACC season.
We Are What We Are: Joseph’s Georgia Tech teams haveforged an identity as defense-first. During the Yellow Jackets’winning streak they have rediscovered that identity. Over the lastfour games, they have created 62 turnovers (15.5 T.O.s per game),making 37 steals (9.25 per game). The importance of those turnovershas been obvious, as the Jackets have outscored their opponents,87-42, off of them. Identity Crisis Averted: As StingDaily’s Matt Winkeljohn chronicled last week, Alex Montgomery has gotten hot — physically with her shootingand mentally in her aggressive approach toward taking that shot.Since being called out by Joseph in the Connecticut postgame pressconference, the senior has played like the leader and assertiveoffensive presence Joseph wants and the team needs. Since the UConngame, when Montgomery shot 6-for-13 with 13 points, she has shot40.7 percent on 33-for-81 shooting. In the team’s four-game winstreak, Montgomery has averaged 19.0 ppg., on 54.6 percent shooting(25-for-46), 10-for-19 from three (52.6 percent). She’s alsohitting big shots, draining the game-winning three to topplethen-unbeaten Northwestern. She’s also led the team in reboundingin three of the four games. Last week she was named ACC Player ofthe Week. Marshall Law: While Tech was waiting forMontgomery to flex her muscles, freshman Tyaunna Marshall strutted her stuff. With 12.2 ppg., second toMontgomery, Marshall has won two ACC Rookie of the Week awards, andnow that Montgomery is asserting herself, is proving a greatoffensive option. She has showed explosiveness off the dribble andhas been relentless on the offensive boards, as evidenced by her 27offensive rebounds (second on the team). Following three straightsingle-digit scoring games, Marshall finished strong in the twogames prior to the break, netting 33 points, including a game-high20 against UGA, on 15-for-31 shooting (48.4 percent). An InsideJob: Joseph didn’t just single out Montgomery following theloss to the Huskies. She made a point to challenge the team to gettough inside. As with Montgomery, the team responded. Over the lastfour games, Tech has outscored its opponents 124 to 84 in thepaint. A lot of the strength inside coincides with the return ofDeja Foster. Foster has grabbed 13 offensive rebounds in thefour games and has taken pressure off center Sasha Goodlett, who has grabbed 13 offensive boards of her ownin the last four games, while averaging 9.5 points per game.Chelsea Regins and LaQuananisha Adams also have contributed toughness in limitedminutes, as Regins pulls down 3.9 rpg. (including 15 offensiverebounds) while Adams has 2.7 rpg (12 offensive). Both have alsoswatted away three shots, tied for second on the team with Marshalland Metra Walthour. Tech’s inside game could get another boost withthe return of 6-4 center Danielle Hamilton-Carter, who transferred prior to last seasonbut wasn’t recognized as eligible by the NCAA until the Georgiagame. Be Careful Out There: During its winning streak,Georgia Tech has been very unselfish, chalking up 68 assists to 54for its opponents. That’s 17.0 per game and 3.5 more than theopposition. The Jackets have also taken care of the ball,committing 62 turnovers (15.5 per game) vs. 72 for opponents, 2.5fewer per game. Walthour has been superb, with a team-high 41assists against 24 turnovers. During Tech’s winning streak, “Me-Me”has a 16-7 assists-to-turnover ratio, 9-3 in the last two games.Offensively, she had a game-high 19 in the Jackets’ win overMissouri that started the streak, and added 16 against Georgia.Right On Schedule: While the ACC portion of the schedulewill certainly be a grind, it’s difficult to imagine that it couldbe any tougher than the stretch that the Yellow Jackets played fromNovember 21 through Dec. 5. In those 15 days they played sevengames, with the first three coming against No. 1 UConn, No. 12Georgetown and No. 4 Tennessee. A fourth game came againstthen-unbeaten Northwestern, which hasn’t lost since falling toTech, Middle Tennessee State, which was an NCAA Tournament teamlast season, and finally the grudge match against intrastate rivalGeorgia.
Tech resumes play on Dec. 21 at Portland State, then visits Washington on the 23rd in its final non-conference road trip. The Jackets finish their non-conference slate with home games against Mercer (Dec. 28), Tennessee State (Dec. 30) and Jacksonville (Jan. 2) before embarking on their ACC schedule, hosting North Carolina Jan. 6.