Jan. 5, 2012
Follow Georgia Tech women’s basketball on Twitter – @GTWBB
By Matt Winkeljohn
The Yellow Jackets will be wearing green tonight, and that may be an appropriate color for the Georgia Tech women’s basketball team. They have been, after all, on the go.
With no games on campus this season as the Coliseum is renovated into a Pavilion, the Jackets have been on the road from the jump.
Frankly, it’s going well. Tonight’s game at No. 5 Maryland (14-0, 1-0 ACC) will be quite the test for what might be considered a new team.
The Jackets have won six straight games since losing three of four — all to teams still ranked in the top 15 (Rutgers, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Georgia).
By appearances, Tech is now better integrated than during that stretch, and head coach MaChelle Joseph has become more familiar with her players, and they with her.
That might seem an odd thing to say about a team with five seniors and nine upperclassmen inasmuch as so many familiar faces are still around. Yet, several of the players who have moved into the mainstream this year, like sophomore guard Dawnn Maye, freshman guard Sydney Wallace and others are of a slightly different ilk.
Still prone to take an attack mode while defending, these Jackets are a little more aggressive offensively than some of Joseph’s previous squads.
Tonight’s game alone will not tell whether or not Tech (11-3, 1-0) is fully integrated, but it’ll be a heck of a snapshot.
“This team is a lot quicker. We have more speed than last year,” Joseph said. “We have a little bit more depth with [freshman forward] T.J. Gortnar and Sydney and some others. I honestly think we’re a work in progress.”
The most recent result may have been the most uplifting.
On Monday, the Jackets went to N.C. State and beat the Wolfpack (10-4) fairly convincingly, busting out something of a unique approach in winning 76-66.
Tech made 6-of-12 three-pointers in that game, and given how well Sasha Goodlett has been playing inside and the Jackets’ wealth of dribble-drivers, that was a good sign.
Even Tyaunna Marshall, who made just four treys in her superb freshman season, went 2-of-3 from beyond the arc. She remains the Jackets’ leading candidate to drive to the basket, and is coming off her third game of the season with 20 or more points (22).
“I’m shooting them when they’re wide open, but I’m not launching anything,” Marshall said of moving her longball totals to 6-of-12 for the season. “I’m taking baby steps.”
As of New Year’s day, the Jackets were ranked in the top 20 in six statistical categories nationally (scoring margin, field goal percentage, field goal percentage defense, assists per game, steals per game, turnover margin and 3-point field goal defense), and nobody should be surprised by those defensive numbers.
For the Jackets to take yet another step forward this season, offensive improvement is critical.
After Marshall, who is averaging 16.4 points per game, Goodlett is next at 13.2.
Nobody else is in double digits, but three players are averaging more than 6.0 (Metra Walthour and Maye), and Tech is averaging 73.9.
These are good things.
“Sasha has really embraced her role as a go-to player,” Joseph said. “I wasn’t playing Frida [Fodgemark] enough early on. She’s really come in and given us a spark. She’s a threat from anywhere. That’s really helped our kids’ confidence, and Ty Marshall is continuing to extend her range.
“I honestly believe that the tournament in San Juan, where we played Rutgers and Green Bay (overtime) back to back was a growing experience, an instrumental part of our season in terms of us turning the corner.”
The Georgia Tech coaches and staff will wear green on Friday against as part of Maryland’s Leukemia Awareness Night in partnership with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Team Tyler Foundation, a foundation started by Maryland head coach Brenda Frese, whose son, Tyler, was diagnosed with Leukemia when he was two-and-a-half years old.