Nov. 20, 2010
By Jon Cooper
The term “program-defining game” has become hackneyed due its over-use by coaches and players.
Sunday at Alexander Memorial Coliseum really is a program-defining game for Georgia Tech, as it hosts the University of Connecticut. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:00.
The Yellow Jackets are 3-1 on the season, 3-0 at home. and are looking to continue to build momentum from a modest two-game winning streak against Kennesaw State and Prairie View A&M.
The Huskies are the premier program in the women’s game and have been for nearly two decades under Head Coach Geno Auriemma. Led by Lawrenceville native Maya Moore, they’ve won back-to-back National Championships and are riding an 80-game winning streak. Any thought of complacency on the part of the Huskies was dashed on Tuesday, when they survived a 65-64 thriller with No. 2 Baylor at the XL Center.
Sunday’s game will be only the second meeting between the schools, with the last one coming early in 2008 in Storrs, Conn. The Huskies won that game, 82-71. The teams were tied at 34 at the half, but UConn shot a sizzling .615 in the second half to pull away. Tech freshman Mo Bennett went off, scoring a team-high 19 points on 8-for-11 shooting, 3-for-4 from three, while senior Jacqua Williams added 14, and sophomore Alex Montgomery had 12, including a game-high four three-pointers. Moore led UConn, going for 20 points and 14 boards while adding six assists.
Sunday, the Jackets try to avenge that game and make history of their own. Here is the starting five for the showdown.
Itchin’ For a Rematch: Sasha Goodlett is determined to make the most of her second shot at the Huskies. Goodlett’s first go-round wasn’t much fun, as the freshman shot 0-for 5 in 15 minutes, while going toe-to-toe with UConn center Tina Charles. The junior center is off to a solid start in 2010-11, shooting .471 (8-for-17), and is second on the team in getting to the line, having attempted 15 free throws. Only freshman Tyaunna Marshall has more FTAs (22). She’s converted nine of them, tied with Marshall for second, one behind Montgomery. Goodlett averages 4.0 rebounds a game, tied for fourth, with eight of her 12 boards coming on the offensive end. Goodlett is coming off a 16-point performance against Prairie View A&M, 15 of them coming in the second half.
Tying One On: Freshman Tyaunna Marshall has made quite an impression in her first four college games. The 5-9 wing is tied for the team lead in scoring with Alex Montgomery (12.8 ppg), has made a team-high 21 field goals, while shooting .477 from the floor, and is second on the team pulling down 6.5 rebounds per game. Marshall has hit the boards with equal ferocity on both ends, as of her 26 rebounds (second on the team), a team-high 13 have been off the offensive glass. She also takes care of the ball, ranking third in assists (13) with a nearly 3:1 assists-to-turnovers ratio (13 assists to five turnovers). Defensively, Marshall is second on the team in steals (8) and blocks (2).
Home Court Advantage?: The Yellow Jackets have had great success at Alexander Memorial Coliseum under MaChelle Joseph, having won 84 of 108 home games (a .778 winning percentage). Of course, that may not matter against Connecticut, which carries an all-time record of 27-9 in “true” road openers into the game. While that .750 winning percentage might make the Huskies appear vulnerable — or at least mortal — they’ve won 16 of their last 17 true road openers and have won their last 27 true road games.
In Their Defense…: Both teams are capable of shutdown defense. Georgia Tech has limited opponents to .369 shooting in four games, including clamping down in the last two second halves, limiting Kennesaw State to .278 shooting and Prairie View A&M to .214. UConn also can force opponents into shooting slumps, as they haven’t allowed an opponent to shoot over 50 percent in 229 consecutive games (dating back to March 8, 2004). Georgia Tech has broken even from the field in only one of its first four games. Coincidentally, that was their lone loss, 65-63 at Old Dominion.
Wherefore the Three?: The Yellow Jackets were counting on improved three-point production in 2010-11, but thus far, the three hasn’t been there. After Alex Montgomery, who has five three-pointers in 16 attempts (a .313 percentage), the rest of the team is shooting 6-for-27 from behind the arc — that’s a .222 percentage. Metra Walthour is second to Montgomery, converting at .300 (3-for-10) and Bennett has hit both of her attempts. Two key recruits, Swedish sharpshooters Frida Fogdemark (1-for-5) and Sandra Nogie-Hasahya (0-for-3) have struggled, combining for .125 three-point shooting (1-for-8). The Huskies are shooting .318 from three (14-for-44), led by freshman Bria Hartley, who’s hitting at a .364 clip (4-for-11). Moore (4-for-13), and Tiffany Hayes (4-14) are tied with Hartley for the lead in threes. Opponents are shooting .281 from three against the Jackets (18-for-64).
The Sixth Man: Georgia Tech is coming off one of its best games as far as defense in the interior, as they set season-highs for rebounds (51, 21 more than Prairie View) and blocks (six). Chelsea Regins and LaQuananisha Adams led the way with two swats each.