March 14, 2013
Simit Shah, Sting Daily –
When it was all over, Mfon Udofia leaned back in the chair in front of his locker at Greensboro Coliseum. The senior point guard paused for a moment, and then pulled off his gold jersey for the final time.
It was a tough end for the career of a tough player, as the Jackets lost to Boston College 84-64 in the first round of the ACC Tournament.
Udofia and his teammates raced out the gates to a 15-0 lead, showing off a dizzying array of offensive and defensive prowess. All indications pointed to an easy victory and a date with Miami in the second round, but then the wheels came off.
‘We came out hot, we came out energized,” said Udofia. “Those guys weathered the storm. They kept doing the things they’re supposed to offensively and defensively. When they made their run, we stayed in a funk. We couldn’t get it going.”
The Eagles outscored the Jackets 38-18 the rest of the half and kept their foot on the gas the remainder of the game. Guard Olivier Hanlan poured in 41 points, as Boston College connected on 14 three-pointers.
“Everything he shot was going in,” said Udofia, echoing the sentiments of everyone watching the game. “He was feeling it. I give him credit.”
The game, like this season, was a roller coaster. For all the positives of the early lead and strong play on both ends, later there were the negatives of turnovers (11), shot selection (32%) and free throws (53%).
In the end, it was the end. With the season over, the Jackets look ahead to the future of the program. For most of the year, the team started three freshmen, and there was little experience to be found on the floor at critical junctures of games.
In Tech-speak, there were plenty of variables throughout – the youth, the injury to Jason Morris, the addition of the Poole brothers midway through the season, bench play. It all equaled inconsistent play.
“You’d like to eliminate all the elements where you get hit in the head again, but in a rebuilding, that’s not going to happen….We need to keep growing and keep getting better,” said Brian Gregory. “That’s going to be a challenge to those guys.”
“We’ve got experienced players coming back,” added Robert Carter, Jr. “It’s emotional right now, because we lost. When we sit down and think about it, we have players coming back – veterans, the freshmen like me are experienced — and we’ll come back stronger.”
For Udofia, there is no more next season at Georgia Tech, but he and fellow point guard Pierre Jordan leave a roster with plenty of potential for the future. He realized he’s played for the Jackets for the final time, but a piece of him stays with the youngsters he’s help to mentor.
“It hit me when we got to the locker room,” he admitted. “I tried not to think about it. I just wanted to play as hard as I can and advance. It’s my last game. These guys have a great future. We had a bunch of freshmen, and we even had a guy come in from high school. I just want to see them do great things and be there to cheer for them.”