Road Warriors

March 1, 2011

Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

With one chance left to win on the road, and that coming against the ACC’s last-place team, there might be temptation to look at Wake Forest’s record – 8-21, 1-13 ACC – and think, “This is it!”

Georgia Tech is in no position to do that, and senior Lance Storrs knows it. When the Yellow Jackets play at Wake Thursday night, will they all take that reality to heart?

“You can’t take any team in the ACC lightly because every player on every team can play. They wouldn’t be in the ACC if they weren’t able to play,” Storrs said. “You can’t look at their record. They’re going to come out and try to defend their home court. We just need to go out there . . . and make smart decisions.”

The Jackets (11-17, 3-11) have made poor decisions too often this season to live up to their potential.

Given the youth inside, finding anyone who truly believed the Jackets were going to be an upper-echelon team in this transitional season would require quite a search.

That said, many expected more, including head coach Paul Hewitt and his players.

Injuries and illness have not helped, but the Jackets’ collective thought process has done more damage.

It would be nuts to expect freshmen post players Daniel Miller, Kammeon Holsey and Nate Hicks to dominate, but right to have thought they would provide more offense than they have. Together, they have averaged 9.2 points in ACC action and that’s not entirely of their own doing.

The other Jackets – the perimeter players – have not looked hard enough to get the ball inside. Opponents see this (it’s hard not to), and defensively have decided not to let the Jackets beat them with the long ball. Consequently, Tech has scuffled around the bottom of the conference in basic shooting (40.5 percent) and 3-point shooting (30 percent).

Opponents have dared Tech to dribble-drive or dump the ball in the paint. Far too often, the Jackets have not taken the dare and have instead over-hoisted.

Winless in 10 tries on opponents’ courts, Thursday’s Wake game will be the Jackets last try to change that. After that, they have the regular-season finale Sunday in Alexander Memorial Coliseum against Miami, and then the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C.

“I believe sometimes when things get to going wrong, we tend to do things out of character,” said senior Moe Miller. “Shot selection can be off, gambling for a steal, certain things that you do when you’re on the road – it’s magnified because the crowd is into it. You just have to stay basic and stick to fundamentals.

“In the past couple games, we got off to a good start and then kind of settled. We’ve got to figure out how to keep our foot on their throat.”

Hewitt said he knew before the season that his team had a slim margin for error. He did not foresee so many players struggling to shoot, but then again he didn’t predict that the Jackets would so often have so little room to get off a jump shot only to shoot anyway.

If there is a key, maybe Storrs has it — “Getting everybody to just calm down, relax . . . execute the principles we are taught,” he said. “The scouting reports are always on cue, coach Hewitt always gives us a great game plan. As players, I just feel like we need to do a better job of executing.

“It’s that five- to 10-minute stretch where we lose it that hurts us. I just feel like Moe, Iman [Shumpert] and I . . . as upperclassmen we’ve got to be more vocal these next few games. We want to end on a good note, and win a couple games going into the ACC Tournament.”

–RamblinWreck.com–

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