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#TGW: Finding The Way

Jan. 8, 2014

By Matt Winkeljohn The Good Word

As Brian Gregory and his staff go about the business of assessing and re-dressing Georgia Tech’s somewhat unpredictable basketball team, there is plenty of data but it may not be clear which parts of it are most relevant.

When the Yellow Jackets (9-6, 0-2 ACC) welcome Notre Dame (10-5, 1-1) to the league Saturday at noon in McCamish Pavilion, it will be a meeting of two teams re-organizing themselves to mixed early returns.

The Irish lost leading scorer Jerian Grant shortly before Christmas when he was dismissed from school for an academic matter.

Tech lost leading rebounder and third-leading scorer Robert Carter, Jr. last week when he tore knee cartilage in a win at Charlotte.

“They lost one of their best players if not their best player . . . there are about five or six teams right now that over the next three weeks do not need to re-invent themselves but figure out what do you need in league play to be successful,” Gregory said earlier this week. “We need to concentrate on us.”

In the case of both teams, their new personalities have not been clear after personnel losses.

Notre Dame opened ACC play with a 79-77 home win over Duke – without Grant. Then, the Irish lost at home to NC State, 77-70.

In Tech’s first game without Carter, the Jackets were a mess for the first five minutes or so at Maryland Saturday and then settled to play the Terps fairly even the rest of the way before falling 77-61.

“You wonder sometimes if there is a physical getting used-to situation, or if it’s a little mental as well,” Gregory said when asked about whether his team struggled to adjust initially to the absence of Carter. “At the same time, no matter what it is you can’t have it.”

Tuesday at Duke, the Jackets trailed by a point at halftime in Cameron Indoor Arena. The Blue Devils stormed in the second half to a 79-57 win.

Tech struggled not only at the free throw line, but in keeping up with Duke shooters and changes in strategy and energy.

The Jackets’ changes are ongoing.

Senior Jason Morris – who missed the first third of the season battling a foot injury — figures to make his fourth start at shooting guard against the Irish, yet will also see time at small and even power forward.

Freshman Quinton Stephens will continue seeing more action, working at both forward spots, and senior Kammeon Holsey will continue toggling between both post positions.

“That’s part of the season,” Gregory said. “We’re not the only program that goes through [personnel changes and roster disruptions]. You have to count on your seniors to . . . not only lead the way, but themselves find the way.”

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