Jan. 7, 2013
By Matt Winkeljohn
There is rarely much time to sulk or pontificate once ACC action begins, and so it was on the second day after Georgia Tech lost its league opener. Even before the Yellow Jackets began practice on Monday, they were looking forward to Wednesday’s game at N.C. State.
In the wake of Saturday’s 62-49 loss to Miami in McCamish Pavilion, the Jackets (10-3) adopted a theme of sorts, or perhaps reminded themselves of a theme forgotten.
“As a team, we need to be more aggressive,” said junior guard Brandon Reed, who was scoreless against the Hurricanes. “From the standpoint of the guards, we were kind of tentative. You could tell that we were second-guessing ourselves.”
That applied to the entire team. Once Miami broke from a 17-17 tie with a 16-6 run over the final five minutes of the first half, the Jackets were off kilter.
The Hurricanes did significant damage by attacking the basket, outscoring Tech 28-10 in the paint up to the point where they stretched the lead to 62-39 deep in the second half. That was a team effort, or shortage. It was not all on the frontcourt. Perimeter players were largely ineffective defending in space and rotations were sluggish.
That led to the Jacket bigs coming under attack.
“The most important thing with our defense is guarding the dribble, and keeping the ball in front of you,” head coach Brian Gregory said on Monday’s ACC teleconference. “And defending with five guys.”
Tech wound up in far too many one-on-one defensive situations. The Jackets’ frustrations on offense seemed to impact their focus on defense.
“We didn’t have a lot of shots falling, and that kind of affected us on defense,” said junior forward Kam Holsey. “We’ve got to get back on defense, keep on playing.”
Bottom line, the Jackets need to stay on task whether the arrow is pointing up or down.
“Anxiety set in when we kind of felt the game slipping away,” Reed said. “We’ve just got to remember that even if a team goes on a run, we need to keep our calm.
“During that time, we can’t let the anxiety or the pressure that we might lose, or if it’s not going as we planned . . . we can’t let that affect what’s happening on the floor.”
Holsey said that while lessons can be learned from the Miami game, the Jackets don’t want to dwell on what they did wrong so much as focus on the corrections.
“The adjustment is play Georgia Tech basketball,” he said. “When you’re struggling on offense, it shouldn’t make you want to play defense any less. It should make you want to play more. We need to be more aggressive, and attack.
“We’re so much better as a team [this season], and we can be even better. We’re so deep . . . but this is the ACC, and you’ve got to come to play every night. We have to stay confident.”
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