Monday Mornings from McCamish: 1/13

Welcome to another edition of Monday Mornings from McCamish. This weekly segment will be released on Monday mornings throughout Georgia Tech’s Men’s Basketball 2013-14 season. We will revisit the previous week’s action as well as look ahead to the upcoming week’s games.

Last Week Recap:

Georgia Tech now stands at to 10-6, 1-2 with a split this past week against familiar foe Duke and ACC newcomer Notre Dame.

Monday 1/04: Georgia Tech 57 Duke 79

The Jackets lost their sixth straight against the Blue Devils by a score of 79-57 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Entering the game outside the top 200 in rebounding, Duke outrebounded the Jackets 33-25 – the first time this season Tech had lost the battle on the glass. To make matters worse, Tech was dreadful from the line at 0 for 6 while the Blue Devils hit 22 of 25.

With that being said, the Jackets surprisingly played a much better brand of basketball in Durham than what we saw only a few days earlier in Baltimore. Tech shot a tremendous 53.6% from the field in the opening half and 49.1% overall. An improvement worthy of scientific attention considering that they shot an combined 40.3% in the previous three games . But what was perhaps even more impressive was the Tech’s defense of the Blue Devil offense holding them to only 9 field goals in 25 attempts (36%) in the opening period. Ultimately the Blue Devils shook off the bad shooting only a few minutes into the second half as they pulled away for a 79-57 win.

Saturday 1/11: Notre Dame 69 Georgia Tech 74

In their conference home opener, Georgia Tech knocked off Notre Dame 74-69 to pick up its first ACC win of 2014.

The Jackets surprised all of those in attendance and perhaps even themselves by surging out to a 17-4 lead and hitting seven of their first 10 shots including three straight treys. The Irish, playing in only their second true road game of the season, may have been startled but they fought their way back to within four by intermission.

In the second half, Tech again established distance by opening period two on a 15-4 run to stretch the lead to 54-39 with less than 14 minutes to play. But after absorbing a 13-0 Irish run the Jackets fought tooth and nail until the final minute to secure their first conference victory which was keyed by a Trae Golden three and free throws from Chris Bolden and Quinton Stephens.

As for Saturday’s takeaways, there were several. First off, the Jackets are a much different team when playing at home and after going 1-3 on a four game road trip, McCamish brought a welcomed sense of familiarity for the Jackets who play their next two games at home this week.

Additionally, it was the second straight game that the Daniel Miller, Kam Holsey, and the rest of the front court stifled a star big man. Duke’s Jabari Parker was held to 4 of 12 and only 12 points and six rebounds on Tuesday while Notre Dame’s Garrick Sherman was held scoreless through the first 26 minutes two days ago. That being said, after missing his first 10 shots, Sherman found his rhythm by hitting six of his final eight – which in large part may have been due to a fatigued, Robert Carter Jr.-less front court. So while Miller and Holsey have been superb in Carter’s absence so far, their extended minutes will become a factor late in games.

Lastly it should be noted that Bolden’s four for eight performance from beyond the arc was only his second multi-three game of the year and first since St. John’s on November 30th. With Carter Jr. down, a resurgent Bolden would be an invaluable remedy for a team looking for more scoring.


Looking Ahead:

Tuesday 1/14 9:00pm: #22 Pittsburgh (15-1, 3-0) at Georgia Tech (10-6, 1-2)

The Pittsburgh Panthers are 15-1 overall and 3-0 in the ACC, yet entered the top 25 this week for the first time this season. Their only loss is 44-43 defeat at the hands of a 15-2 Cincinnati Bearcat team on a neutral floor. Up to this point, it’s been the strength of schedule holding back the Panthers in the national scope not their play. In their first 16 games, Pitt has played only one true road game (a 74-62 victory on NC State) and zero against ranked opponents. That will change this week as Pitt travels to #2 Syracuse after visiting McCamish on Tuesday night.

What makes Pittsburgh, a team with only five returning player and six newcomers, so good? They have two key ingredients of a winning college basketball team.

  1. Senior leadership in forwards Talib Zanna and Lamar Patterson. Zanna, originally from Nigeria, averages 12 points and 8 rebounds while his native-Pennsylvanian partner Patterson averages nearly 18 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. In Pitt’s most recent victory, an 80-65 thrashing of Wake Forest, Zanna posted his fifth double-double of the season (16 points, 12 rebounds). Not to be outdone, Patterson scored 27 and eclipsed the 20 point mark for the sixth time this season.
  2. The Panthers have also benefitted greatly from efficient guard play. As a team the Panthers rank in the top 5 in assist/turnover ratio at 1.74 while sophomore guard James Robinson leads the nation in that category with a 5.17 as of 1/11. The Panthers as a whole are 11th in the nation in total assists averaging over 17 per game.

For Tech to knock off the Panthers it will take a shooting performance comparable to that of Saturday and a strong presence inside to counter the Zanna and Patterson duo.

Tip-off is at 9:00pm and will be broadcast on 106.7 FM and televised on ESPNU.

Sunday 1/18 12:00pm: Miami (9-6, 1-1) at Georgia Tech

Tech concludes a three game ACC home-stand this Saturday afternoon as they host the Miami Hurricanes. The meeting will be the two’s first since Marcus Georges-Hunt’s buzzer-beating game-winner over the sixth-ranked Canes last March.

The Hurricanes are but a shadow of the 2012-13 Sweet Sixteen team. The Canes returned no starters and carry only nine scholarship players this season. And as one may expect, Miami’s offense has been dreadful – ranking 331st (of 345 teams) in points per game at 63.5. That being said Miami has been competitive this season with a 9-6 record, four overtime games (in which they’ve gone 1-3), a road win over the Jekyll and Hyde Tar Heels, and a nail-biting five point loss against Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.

One of the major reasons, Jim Larranaga’s club has been able to compete has been the play of senior guard Rion Brown. Brown leads the team in both points and assists and ranks second in rebounds behind big man Donnavan Kirk. And although Brown did not start last year, he is a name with which Tech fans ought to be familiar. The Hinesville, Georgia native erupted for a career high 22 points and hit nine of 11 shots including four of six from deep in a 62-47 road win over the Jackets last season.

If the Jackets can contain Brown and put together a moderately effective offensive performance, Tech should close the home-stand with another ACC victory.

Tip-off is at 2:00pm and will be broadcast on 106.7 FM and televised on RSN.


Be sure to check back next week for a new edition of Monday Mornings from McCamish, but in the meantime follow @WREKSports on Twitter and like us on Facebook (under “WREK Sports”) to receive in-game updates and analysis.