Feb. 11, 2017
By Andy Demetra | Georgia Tech Radio
– It might not ease the pain of Super Bowl LI, but Atlanta will have its rematch with Boston Saturday.
After a 96-58 win over Tusculum Tuesday, Georgia Tech (14-10, 5-6 ACC) returns to league play this weekend when it takes on Boston College (9-16, 2-10 ACC) at McCamish Pavilion. The Eagles have lost eight straight following a 2-2 start that quickly erased memories of an 0-18, ACC annus horribilis from a year ago.
Here are my five favorite notes from my chart in preparation for Saturday’s matchup at McCamish Pavilion (5:30 p.m. EST, Georgia Tech IMG Sports Network):
At this point in ACC play, certain barometers start to emerge between wins and losses. Some are obvious; others less so. Tadric Jackson’s three-point shooting might be one of them.
Tadric Jackson – ACC
Wins: 6-15 3pt. (40.0%)
Losses: 1-14 3pt. (7.1%)
Compare that to senior Quinton Stephens, and whether the Jackets’ ACC fortunes rise and fall with his three-point shooting:
Quinton Stephens – ACC
Wins: 11-34 3pt. (32.3%)
Losses: 13-31 3pt. (41.9%)
Game to game, Stephens might be the Jackets’ steadiest three-point contributor. But Jackson often serves as the Jackets’ bellwether in ACC play from three-point range. If the junior can knock down a three-pointer or two early, it could spell good things for the Jackets.
“We were much better in the second half in guarding the ball screens. I thought in the first half, we laid on the screens. We didn’t get over the screens. Our guys defending the screens, the bigs, didn’t do a good job of presenting themselves. We made an adjustment in the second half and we were much better at that.”
That from head coach Josh Pastner, who still saw room for improvement in the second half against Tusculum. That trait could come in handy versus BC: the Eagles feature one of the more prolific backcourts in the ACC in freshman Ky Bowman (16.9 ppg ACC) and sophomores Jerome Robinson (18.3 ppg ACC) and Jordan Chatman (10.8 ppg).
Bowman is an athletic point guard who can trigger threes quickly; Robinson is a driver who excels at finishing from crafty angles; and Chatman, a BYU transfer, sank nine three-pointers against Virginia Tech earlier this year. Like the Jackets, BC prides itself on keeping the ball moving in the halfcourt. Can Tech maneuver around ball screens and handoffs, and chase the Eagles off the three-point line? Like the Virginia Tech game, can they identify shooters early in transition? To heed the words of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, “If you don’t guard the three-point line with these guys, you’re in for a long night sometimes.”
At the very least, BC should have Josh Heath well-scouted. Heath’s Dad, Stan, serves as a Boston College assistant under Jim Christian. In an interview for the Georgia Tech game program last month, I asked Josh for his Dad’s favorite saying as a coach. He harkened back to a phrase he used often when attending his Dad’s basketball camps growing up.
“’Learn to listen and listen to learn,’” Josh replied. “Or maybe it was the other way around. I forget.”
In other words … Josh didn’t listen to him that well.
“I guess you’re right,” he said sheepishly.
Heath labored through flu-like symptoms against Clemson and Wake Forest, and suffered a rolled ankle late against Tusculum. Whatever his health for Saturday, though, Heath has often saved his savviest play for McCamish:
Josh Heath – Assists vs. Turnovers (ACC games)
Home: 26 Assists, 10 Turnovers
Away: 26 Assists, 18 Turnovers
With an offense predicated on unselfishness and hard cuts, the Jackets will need to make the Eagles work side-to-side, and force them into breakdowns in the halfcourt. Worth mentioning: Boston College has the worst assist-to-turnover ratio in the ACC (-2.4).
Heath won’t be the only Yellow Jacket who has shared a roof with a member of the Eagles. Graduate transfer Kellen McCormick roomed at Western Michigan last year with Connar Tava, now a graduate transfer at BC (6.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg). He said the two traded e-mails on Friday.
McCormick described the 6-6, 250-pound Tava (TAY-vee) as a “tight end” who gives the Eagles some much-needed interior toughness. Also, while doing some research on Tava, a native of Macomb, Mich., I turned up this 2011 gem from mlive.com:
“McCormick, however, is known for his shooting. Of Michigan seniors in his height range, only Country Day’s Jodan Price, who signed with DePaul, strokes it better from three-point range.”
Even during its winless slog of 2016, Boston College still defensive rebounded well. That trend has continued this year: the Eagles only allow an offensive rebound on 24.5 percent of opponents’ misses, the second-lowest rate in the ACC behind Virginia.
Why might that be worth tracking? The Yellow Jackets are 4-2 against teams that rank in the bottom half of the ACC in defensive rebound percentage. Against teams that rank in the top half, they’re 1-4. That lone win came against UNC; Tech compensated by racking up a +19 edge in free throw attempts. Can the Yellow Jackets hit the boards if their shots don’t fall – and if so, can they get to the foul line and sustain an advantage there?
Now that we’re prepared, we hope you are as well. Our pregame coverage starts at 5 p.m. EST on the Georgia Tech IMG Spots Network. See you at McCamish.