Jan. 22, 2015
By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word
When Georgia Tech tries to pick up its first ACC win tonight at No. 2 Virginia, the Yellow Jackets are going to look for more offensive production from their guards, and that will be a tough ask.
The Cavaliers (17-0, 5-0 ACC) making scoring difficult for everybody. They’re ranked No. 2 nationally in points allowed (50.6), shooting percentage against (34.1), No. 1 in defensive rebounds per game (18.6) and No. 5 in turnovers (9.8).
Add the fact that Tech head coach Brian Gregory has mixed and matched players in the backcourt looking to balance defense and scoring, and the Jackets (9-8, 0-5) have their work cut out.
“Obviously, we always talk about combining the point guards’ statistics, but we need some more points from those guys, and not just the point guard but whoever is at the off guard spot for us,” Gregory said.
Other than Georges-Hunt, who leads Tech in scoring (12.9 points per game) while spending most of his team-high 516 minutes at the small forward position, Heath (355 minutes in 17 games, including four starts) and Jorgenson (321 in 16, with 13 starts) have played the most.
They’re averaging a modest 4.4 and 3.2 points, respectively.
Bolden leads the group in scoring (6.0 points in 310 minutes in 17 games, four starts) yet he and Jackson (4.9 in 204 minutes in 17 games) trail the group defensively.
Heyward is the leading defender in that field, and the least potent on offense (1.4 points in 78 minutes in seven games with back-to-back starts).
“The offensive game that particular player would have has to be coupled with a good defensive game,” Gregory said. “It doesn’t help us if someone gets 15, 16 points and gives up 22 on the other end because of defensive mistakes.”
Bolden played just seven minutes in last Saturday’s loss at Pitt despite a solid game before that against Notre Dame. That was a schematic design.
“Chris had a really good offensive game against Notre Dame . . . [against Pitt] he didn’t play a lot,” the coach explained.
“We played a lot of zone, and we went with [Quinton Stephens] more at the [small forward spot], which bumped Marcus to the [shooting guard] spot so we were a little bigger in the zone to help us on the glass, and offensively maybe in terms of attacking the basket.”
Virginia head coach Tony Bennett deploys a three-guard offense with sophomore London Perrantes at the point, and juniors Justin Anderson and Malcolm Brogdon (of Atlanta).
Anderson (14.5) and Brogdon (13.6) lead the Cavs in scoring, and at 6-feet-6 and 6-5 they will be tall orders for Tech. Anderson is connecting on a whopping 52.7 percent of his 3-pointers (39-of-74).
Among Tech guards excluding Georges-Hunt, Jackson may be the most skilled offensively, yet he’s working hard to polish up his defense and has not yet untracked that offense.
The freshman is shooting 25.5 percent, and has made 5-of-48 3-pointers.
“I talk to him a lot. He’s my roommate, and we talk about what you can do, what you can’t do, and what you need to do,” said forward/center Demarco Cox. “I believe he’s still got confidence. If he doesn’t, we’re going to keep talking to him.”
Gregory believes Jackson will put the pieces together.
“He’s just got to keep plugging away. It’s been a tough go for him at times. He’s going to keep getting minutes, and hopefully he’ll break out of it soon,” the coach said. “He’s had some really good looks, and they just haven’t fallen. Sometimes, the younger guys don’t have any experiences to fall back on, and it’s difficult.”