Jan. 28, 2015
By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word
When Georgia Tech goes to work this evening in Miami, the Yellow Jackets will be looking to pull off an inside job in BankUnited Center.
In the search for their first conference win, the Jackets want to get more done in the paint against the Hurricanes – on both ends of the floor.
Tech’s interior offense sagged in the past two games, at Virginia and against Boston College, and head coach Brian Gregory, his staff and players have focused inward in preparing for Miami (14-5, 4-2).
Last Sunday, the smallish Eagles outscored the Jackets 28-24 in the paint, and Tech made just 6-of-11 shots at the rim by way of layups, dunks and tip-ins – including 1-of-3 in the first half.
Foul trouble among big men Demarco Cox, Robert Sampson and Charles Mitchell was a factor, but not the only one. Tech had issues with the Cavaliers and the Eagles trapping in the post, and let those issues dissuade them.
“We need to get the ball in there more . . . there has to be a trust factor there even though we’ve had some turnovers,” Gregory said. “We were a physical post-up team, and over the last couple games we haven’t been as much . . . we have to get back to that.
“We want to get the ball as deep to the block as we can. If they’re trapped, and we can get it out, that creates a scramble.”
Cox, Sampson and Mitchell combined for just eight points on 3-of-9 shooting against Boston College. That likely won’t work against the ‘Canes, who have won four of five ACC games since falling in double overtime at Virginia to open conference play. Miami’s only loss since was at Notre Dame.
The Jackets made 8-of-23 3-point shots against the Eagles, but fell because of the scoring disparity inside.
“I think there’s times where we struggle in some decision making on whether to shoot,” Gregory said. “Sometimes you have to take a look at the pass that was thrown to the shooter.
“Sometimes, it’s not as easy as whether a guy is confident enough [to shoot; a poor pass changes the opportunity]. I think the overall umbrella to all these questions is we have to make better decisions.”
Miami center Tonye Jekiri will be in the middle of everything.
The 7-foot junior from Nigeria is averaging 9.7 points and a whopping 12.5 rebounds in ACC action. He had 13 points and 15 rebounds in the ‘Canes’ last game, a win at Syracuse, and he ranks No. 6 in the nation in pulling 7.5 defensive rebounds per game.
Senior point guard Angel Rodriguez, meanwhile, is averaging 16 points and 5.6 assists in conference action, and guard Omar Sherman is averaging 13.5.
The Jackets (9-10, 0-7) want to polish up their defense, too, after B.C. scored 38 second-half points on 59.1 percent shooting. The Eagles made 13-of-22 shots at the rim by way of layups, dunks and tip-ins – including 8-of-11 in the second half — as Tech’s defense was spread out.