By Andy Demetra | Voice of the Yellow Jackets
Are we sure that happened?
The team that went 2-for-21 from three-point range against North Carolina State? And 4-for-23 against Clemson? And 5-for-22 against Duke?
That same Georgia Tech team, barely a month later, putting together an historic shooting performance from deep?
It happened alright. 96 points, 18 three-pointers, the fifth triple-double in school history, career highs here, season highs there – everywhere you looked Tuesday, the milestones were plentiful. Since the summer, Josh Pastner has had two sayings plastered in giant blue lettering on the whiteboards that stand watch inside the Zelnak Practice Facility. “The Star of the Team is the Team” reads one. “The Go-To Man Is The Open Man” reads the other.
With their unselfishness and balanced scoring over the past few weeks, highlighted by their record-setting performance at Syracuse, the Yellow Jackets are playing like a team with full belief in those mantras.
“We played almost as near perfect as you could offensively,” Pastner said of his team’s night in Syracuse.
With the ACC Tournament around the corner, Georgia Tech (13-17, 5-14 ACC) will look for one last head-turning, net-burning performance Saturday when they face another team that’s gotten hot down the stretch, the Boston College Eagles (15-15, 9-10 ACC), in the regular season finale in Chestnut Hill.
Enjoy the top notes from my chart as the Jackets shoot for a third straight win at Conte Forum (2:30 p.m. ET, Georgia Tech Sports Network from Legends Sports):
Kyle Sturdivant’s four top scoring games this season have come on the road in the ACC. (photo by Rich Barnes)
Attention Quinten Post. You owe Josh Pastner a day-and-a-half of vacation time.
As he shared on his radio show Monday, the Georgia Tech coaching staff recruited Post out of high school in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Pastner even flew home early from a family vacation to Florida so he could see Post and his family on his official visit.
“It just shows that in recruiting, you get told no more than you get told yes,” Pastner grinned.
“I want to remind Quinten Post of that on Saturday,” he added. “You owe me by not getting any points or rebounds against us.”
That may be wishful thinking. After starting his career as a sparingly-used teammate of Deivon Smith at Mississippi State, Post (16.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg) has turned into an All-ACC caliber center in Chestnut Hill. At 7-0 and 250 pounds, he’s near-unmovable on the block, but he’s also a dangerous pick-and-pop threat from outside (44.0% 3pt.). The Eagles like to reverse the ball through their “5” man on offense, meaning Post gets plenty of touches on the perimeter.
In the backcourt, super-senior Makai Ashton-Langford (12.2 ppg) only shot 5-of-20 against Tech last year but reads screens well and has a quick first step. Six-foot-3 Jaeden Zackery (10.3 ppg) had a career-high 19 points at McCamish and gives the Eagles a broad-shouldered driver á la Syracuse’s Joe Girard. Boston College shoots threes as scarcely as any team in the ACC, but don’t mistake that for lack of confidence – the Eagles have shot a similar percentage as Georgia Tech lately.
3pt.% – Last 7 games
- Georgia Tech: 40.6% (74 of 182)
- Boston College: 39.6% (57 of 144)
Among the keys for Tech Saturday: Make second-effort recovery plays and limit outside drives from Ashton-Langford and Zackery. Can they also avoid running into foul trouble against Post’s physicality, both when he gets deep (on post-ups) or downhill (on pick-and-rolls)?
On Wednesday the Yellow Jackets faced 6-11 Syracuse center Jesse Edwards, a native of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
On Saturday they’ll meet 7-0 Quinten Post, another Amsterdam native.
Facing a Dutch center in back-to-back games may seem odd… until you realize the Netherlands is the tallest country in the world.
The odds of getting struck by lightning: Less than 1 in a million.
The odds of getting bitten by a shark: 1 in 3.5 million.
What Georgia Tech has done in Chestnut Hill lately may be even more improbable. In its last three trips to Conte Forum, Tech has shot the exact same field goal percentage – down to the tenth of a percentage point.
Duplicating that may be difficult against an Eagles team that ACC Network analyst Dan Bonner called “as tough and as physical a defense that any in this league.” With Ashton-Langford and Zackery scavenging aggressively for steals, Boston College ranks second in the ACC in turnover rate in conference play (17.9%). Head coach Earl Grant plays a style similar to his former boss Brad Brownell at Clemson, with players digging and swarming from the ball-side corners. Tech will once again have to play with strong pick-ups on the dribble.
Boston College has used that defense to rack up three wins over ranked opponents, its most in a season since 2008-09. In spite of that, though, the Eagles are allowing 36.9-percent three-point shooting in ACC play, second worst in the league behind Florida State. Could Georgia Tech’s recent three-point flurry cut into their aggressiveness sending defenders from the corners? That push-and-pull could be something to watch Saturday.
Another sneaky note: Kyle Sturdivant’s four highest scoring games this season have come in ACC road games.
- at Syracuse – 20 points*
- at Notre Dame – 18
- at Louisville – 17
- at Pittsburgh – 16
Georgia Tech has shot exactly 50.9 percent from the floor in each of its last three games at Boston College. (photo by Danny Karnik)
Georgia Tech will complete another rarity Saturday: facing identical twins who play for different teams.
On November 21, the Yellow Jackets faced Utah’s Gabe Madsen in the Fort Myers Tip-off. On Saturday they’ll face his twin brother Mason, a reserve guard for Boston College who leads the team in three-pointers. Both brothers entered the transfer portal this offseason after beginning their careers at Cincinnati.
Gabe Madsen scored a team-high 16 points for the Utes in a win over Tech. His brother will now try to snap an Ides of March streak that likely doesn’t get publicized at Boston College – the Eagles have lost 14 straight regular season games in March dating back to 2015.
One week ago, student manager Yuxiao Liu walked on to Bobby Cremins Court to take part in Georgia Tech’s Senior Day ceremonies.
On Saturday morning in Chestnut Hill, he’ll walk onto the Conte Forum court, five-foot-long metal pole in hand, to continue his work on another basketball-related project.
Since the middle of last season, Liu, a senior from Beijing who moved to Johns Creek, Ga., for high school, has helped Dr. Jud Ready, an adjunct professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Materials Science and Engineering, on a research project analyzing the rebound elasticity of rims around the ACC.
Do certain arenas have “softer” rims? That’s the age-old question Ready and Liu are trying to answer through science. According to NCAA rules, every home team’s rims must fall within a certain elasticity range. Within that range, though, there can be plenty of variance. Some arenas have higher RRE’s – i.e., softer rims – while others are on the low end. In some gyms, whether done intentionally or not, the home team shoots on the rim with the higher RRE in the second half.
Whenever he accompanies the Yellow Jackets on road trips, Liu waits until the end of Tech’s shootaround, then unsheathes his pole from a vinyl case (it vaguely resembles an apple picker). He then walks toward each end of the floor, grips the hook onto the rim, lets it hang for a moment, and takes an elasticity reading from an attached electronic device.
Ready and Liu are still in the data collection phase, but they hope to publish their research after the season. They also hope it can yield some practical benefits for Tech. For example, can the Yellow Jackets calibrate their rims at the Zelnak Practice Facility to better simulate the kinds of rims they’ll shoot at for their next game?
Whatever the numbers show on Saturday, Georgia Tech hopes to find the rims in Chestnut Hill to its liking.
Now that we’re ready, we hope you are as well. Join us for pregame coverage starting at 2 p.m. ET on the Georgia Tech Sports Network from Legends Sports. See you in Chestnut Hill.
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ABOUT GEORGIA TECH MEN’S BASKETBALL
Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team has completed six seasons under head coach Josh Pastner, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference championship in 2021 and making its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 11 years. Tech has been a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference since 1979, won four ACC Championships (1985, 1990, 1993, 2021), played in the NCAA Tournament 17 times and played in two Final Fours (1990, 2004). Connect with Georgia Tech Men’s Basketball on social media by liking their Facebook Page, or following on Twitter (@GTMBB) and Instagram. For more information on Tech basketball, visit Ramblinwreck.com.