Tech's NCAA Tournament Road Begins Today In Chapel Hill

March 17, 2012

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

If you’re a fan of Georgia Tech athletics, even if you’re oriented predominantly toward a sport other than women’s basketball, surely you will find a way to check in today on the Yellow Jackets, right?

To open their school-record sixth straight NCAA tournament, they’ll play the Sacred Heart Pioneers at about 2:50 on ESPN2.

History waits to be made.

Head coach MaChelle Joseph and the ladies are excited about a lot of things because that is somewhat their nature plus just about everything they do from here will set some sort of school mark — this from a program that has been setting marks this time of year for several years running.

A win would be a school record, and the Jackets look to have a very real chance should they beat the Pioneers of making the first Sweet 16 appearance in Tech history.

“Just very exciting,” said senior Metra Walthour.

“We’ve had tremendous success [in Carmichael Arena in Chapel Hill, N.C.] the last two years so that gets us excited,” said Joseph, whose team beat the Tar Heels on their home court dos times in a row.

“We’re very excited,” said senior Sasha Goodlet.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s bad policy. I plead guilty.

There are interesting back stories with the Jackets, no tale more intriguing than that of sophomore guard/slasher Ty Marshall.

Tech’s leading scorer was for a while while (journalistic first there; back-to-back “whiles”) in high school an afterthought.

Always a good player in Upper Marlboro, Md., she for various reasons didn’t draw a lot of attention on the recruiting trail.

Shoot, Joseph didn’t know much about her until she was scouting/recruiting Dawnn Maye at a summer tournament a few years ago in Raleigh, N.C.

There, Marshall fared very well in direct competition against Maye, and eventually, Tech offered her a scholarship.

If I remember Joseph’s lightning-fast explanation correctly, the only other Division I offer Marshall received was from one of the dead statesmen schools in Virginia (James Madison, William & Mary . . . someone).

Wow! Look at how that has played out.

Marshall started as a freshman, was fifth in the ACC in scoring this season (15.3 points per game), was second in rebounding for the Jackets (6.4) and she scored 25 points in the conference championship game against — you guessed it — Maryland. If the Jackets win a pair in Chapel Hill (Sunday, then Tuesday) to earn the school’s first spot in the Sweet 16, likely opposite overall No. 1 seed Baylor, we’ll revisit Marshall in detail.

The name is good; the same as my youngest brother.

A few more rapid-fire thoughts . . .

Maye has bounced back from major surgery on her legs to insert steel rods.

There are two players from Sweden and another from Slovenia (Tjasa Gortnar has become a starter), and a head coach who gets after it with as much energy as any human you’ve ever met.

Promise.

Joseph was all-everything at Purdue, setting a slew of school records. Her name remains in many places in Boilermaker and Big 10 Conference history.

Tech has five seniors, which is a big deal now, and the recruiting class coming in is ranked No. 4 nationally behind only Connecticut, Tennessee and Texas A&M — powers all.

Carmichael is a neutral floor, although when Tech last played there it was an away game. Maybe it doesn’t matter.

The Jackets are 10-2 in away games (a school record for wins) and that does not count the non-home games they played this season at the Arena at Gwinnett Center and the AUC while the Tech McCamish Pavilion has been constructed.

This team is worth you watching it.

“Just to know that we’re close to home, and we’ll have some fans coming to see us [helps],” Walthour said. “I’m looking forward to finally getting over the hump. We’re looking forward to going further than Chapel Hill.”

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