Nov. 21, 2014
By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word
Brian Gregory has been able to check off of his wish list a few elements, but even as Georgia Tech has played more physical basketball – like the head coach wants — the Yellow Jackets have not cashed in sufficiently upon their new brawn.
So tonight against Indiana-Purdue-Ft. Wayne (2-0), Tech (2-0) will look to score more after offensive rebounds, and make more free throws.
The Jackets want more easy points.
Junior Charles Mitchell and graduate student Demarco Cox have lent Tech a welcomed physical edge in and around the post in wins over Georgia and Alabama A&M, and the Jackets out-rebounded their foes by five and 19, respectively.
Tech needs to do more with their offensive rebounds, however, than it has.
After rebounding 15 of their 35 missed shots against Georgia (42.9 percent), the Jackets scored a modest 11 second-chance points. In the second half against the Bulldogs, Tech managed just three second-chance points off of seven offensive rebounds (0.43 points per offensive rebound).
The Jackets also were out-rebounded by five overall in that second half.
The overall numbers were better in Tuesday’s 66-46 win over lesser Alabama A&M squad. Tech rebounded 20 of its 32 missed shots (a strong 62.5 percent rate), and turned those into 20 second-chance points (1.0 per offensive rebound). Considering the Jackets’ physical edge inside, some margins fell short of Gregory’s desires.
It was great that the Jackets made it to the free-throw line 27 times for the second game in a row, but they made just 15 (55.7 percent) after making 17 against Georgia, including 10-of-17 in the second half (58.8).
Since halftime against Georgia, the Jackets have made 25-of-44 free throws (56.8 percent). Their free throw percentage of 59.3 ranks 300th nationally.
There’s good news/not-so-good news here.
First, the Jackets are averaging 27 free throws per game after averaging 15.2 in Gregory’s first season on The Flats, 16.2 the second and 19.3 the third.
“The greater the pace that you play with offensively, and the more aggressive you are, you get fouled more,” Gregory said. “We’re a much more physical team than we were the first year, or the second, or the third. Because of that you hopefully get to the free throw line more.”
But all those trips ought to lead to more than 16 points per game.
“We left too many points on the table Tuesday night,” the coach explained. “We have to finish around the basket so we emphasize that, and when we do get fouled we need to step up to the line and make free throws.
“Those things add up, and as you move forward in the season they become even more critical . . . with 20 offensive rebounds, you need more second-chance points than we got.”
Mitchell, Cox and the Jackets will have an interesting Mastodon to deal with tonight in McCamish Pavilion, as IPFW forward Steve Forbes goes 6-feet-9, 295 pounds.
He’s even bigger than Mitchell or Cox, and looks like he could be Cox’s brother down to a he-man beard. The senior from Clermont, Fla., was tabbed preseason All-Summit League after averaging 12.1 points and 5.3 rebounds as a junior.
The rest of the Mastodons are more like raptors, yet, “They’re accustomed to winning, they know how to win, they have a tremendous post player in Forbes,” Gregory said. “There will be 600 pounds of meat battling around down there.”
Yes, the low block figures to be an interesting place, although the Jackets also must tend to IPFW senior guard Isaiah McCray. The 6-footer from Baltimore is averaging 15.5 points and a whopping 10.5 rebounds.
His tendency to crash the glass will warrant special attention from Tech guards. Travis Jorgenson will be a game-time decision (knee), and defensive specialist Corey Heyward may for the second consecutive game be called upon.
Tech’s task will go beyond securing rebounds.
What they do with them, especially on the offensive end, will be key; not only to this game but others.
“There’s also the teaching point where if you get the [offensive] rebound, it doesn’t necessarily give you the green light to shoot the ball [right away],” Gregory said. “If you’re surrounded and swarmed inside, you have to kick it out. Sometimes, the best opportunity to get a wide-open 3 is off the rebound.”
So there’s something else to watch.
All Jackets other than Quinton Stephens, who has made 7-of-11 treys (63.6 percent) are shooting a combined 12.5 percent (3-for-24) from afar.
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