March 20, 2011
By Matt Winkeljohn
Now that the day is here, there’s no more room for grumbling about seeding, location or opponents. Bottom line: the Georgia Tech women’s basketball team is very well placed to earn the higher level of respect the Yellow Jackets have been yearning and working so hard to land.
When the Jackets play Ohio State today in the second round ofthe NCAA tournament, they’ll play the Buckets on their home floor.OSU has won 10 straight, most of them in lopsided fashion. TheBuckeyes have all five starters back. Tech is in the NCAAtournament for the school-record fifth straight year, and has won aschool-record 24 games, but has struggled in recent NCAAs.
Now’s the time; a new level of respect – and a berth in the Sweet 16 — awaits.
“We’re way different than first time in the [NCAA] tournament,” said coach MaChelle Joseph. “We have seven kids that have played [in NCAA tournaments]. A lot of things are factors. This is the first time we’ve gone into the NCAA tournament with as much experience.”
Tech (24-10) will not overwhelm Ohio State (23-9) with size. Junior center Sasha Goodlet, who scored 19 points in a first-round win over Bowling Green, will matchup against a much better and different kind of player in OSU senior Jantel Lavender than what BGSU offered.
Lavender recently became the first player, male or female, to be named player-of-the-year four times in a row in a BCS conference. She shares the award in the Big 10 this season.
She had 30 points and 11 rebounds in OSU’s win over Central Florida in the first round, her 75th career double-double.
OSU junior point guard Samantha Prahalis has been around the block, too.
Yet the Buckeyes struggled when UCF threw a full-court press at them, watching the Knights go on a 12-0 run.
The Jackets have plenty more than a few minutes of press in them. Try 40.
“We watched film of Georgia Tech as soon as we got to the locker room,” Lavender said. We know what’s ahead of us. They drive the basket. They want the rebound. We have to match that intensity.”
Goodlet said that practicing against an over-sized “Gold” squad back in Atlanta, rife when male Tech students some of whom go 6-feet-6 and even more, can pay off in Columbus, Ohio.
As she said after the win over Bowling Green, “The last week, we’ve been thinking, `Be aggressive, be aggressive, be aggressive.’ “
That’s a plan worthy of respect.
If you’ve not been one to find a way to watch, or listen, the women play in the past, are you at the point now where you make that effort? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.