March 17, 2014
By Jon Cooper
The Good Word
Last year March just didn’t seem right for Ty Marshall and her women’s basketball teammates.
With no invitation to “The Big Dance” coming following a 14-16 season, “Selection Monday” was rendered meaningless to them. It was just another Monday.
This time around, it’s a whole different story.
It’s how Selection Monday is supposed to be.
“Yeah, definitely this is better,” said Marshall, momentarily breaking away from a group of a couple of hundred fans and supporters in attendance at the Callaway Club in McCamish Pavilion, including President “Buzz” Peterson and wife, Val, A.D. Mike Bobinski and Associate Director of Athletics – SWA Theresa Wenzel. “It’s a lot of fun and a lot of feelings going through me right now. I’m so excited right now that I don’t know what to say.”
Her t-shirt really said it all. The black shirt bore the slogan “NCAA Tournament 2014. Luck Has Nothing To Do With It.”
After a one-year hiatus, Georgia Tech (20-11) is back in the NCAA Tournament for the seventh time in eight seasons.
The Yellow Jackets will go as a No. 10 seed and take on No. 7 LSU (19-12), in Baton Rouge, on Sunday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. The game, the first ever between the schools, will be televised on ESPN2 (it also can be seen online ESPN3).
For head coach MaChelle Joseph, the particulars don’t really matter.
“We’re really excited to be back in the NCAA Tournament,” Joseph said. “Obviously, you don’t like to play on someone’s home court in the first round, but I have a lot of respect for the SEC and LSU, and it is a great opportunity for us. We’ve played well on the road this year so we’re looking forward to it.”
Getting back in, regardless of where, was priority No. 1 since, well, last March.
“We were hungry. There was no doubt,” Joseph said. “We were hungry to get back and we knew how important it was to get this program back where it deserved to be and that is in the NCAA Tournament.”
This will be the third time the Jackets have entered March Madness as a 10, but the first time they won’t be traveling to the Midwest to play the game. The location couldn’t be more to Joseph’s liking.
“We’ve been to the Midwest almost every time in the NCAA Tournament except the time we went to the Sweet 16,” she said. “We got to go to North Carolina. So it’s a great trip for us. It’s great for our fans. It’s drivable. So we’re really pleased with our seed.”
For freshman Kaela Davis, the NCAA Tournament is another thrilling first in a season full of them. She is approaching the Tournament with excitement, not awe.
“It’s amazing. I grew up watching the Tournament so to be able to play in it is just a blessing. It’s an amazing opportunity,” she said. “I’m just so excited to even say we made it to the Tournament, let alone play in it.”
Davis’ first is the last for Marshall and her senior class (fifth-year center Shayla Bivins, guard Dawnn Maye and guard/forward Frida Fogdemark). The freshman guard said she is drawing extra inspiration out of playing for the senior class.
“That’s probably my No. 1 incentive,” she said. “They’ve put so much into this program. That’s all I really can do, is give back to them.”
Marshall is excited just for the opportunity to give it her all on the big stage one more time.
“Just being back, being able to go dancing again in the Tournament is definitely a great feeling for me and my teammates and everybody who supported us,” she said. “So it feels good right now. Playing LSU, I think we match up pretty well, so we’ll be ready for it.
“We have to leave it all out there and it’s just great to know we’re going back for that last go-round and have fun.”
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