Monday Mornings from McCamish: 1/21

Welcome to a Tuesday edition of Monday Mornings from McCamish. This weekly segment will be released on Monday mornings (with the exception of holidays) 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 10-8, 1-4 following two conference losses to now #20 Pittsburgh and Miami.

Monday 1/14: #22 Pittsburgh 81 Georgia Tech 74

In their first ever ACC meeting, the Pittsburgh defeated a depleted Georgia Tech squad despite a valiant first half effort.

Trae Golden led Tech in the opening period with 10 points while the Jackets again stifled an opposing big man in Lamar Patterson (0 points and four turnovers). But just like Notre Dame’s Garrick Sherman on Saturday, Patterson found his rhythm.

The 35-32 Yellow Jacket advantage vanished in the opening minutes of the second as Pittsburgh exploded on 8-0 run keyed by a layup, steal, and back to back assists from Patterson. Without Jason Morris and Solomon Poole, the eight scholarship players in White and Gold were running on fumes.

The shortage of bodies was most evident on the glass. Pittsburgh had 19 second half rebounds including six from F Michael Young; Tech, on the other hand, had only six as a team. That being the case, the outcome was still in doubt in the final minute and given the circumstances, a single digit defeat to a talented basketball team like Pitt is far from embarrassing. But still it’s tough not to wonder what the Jackets could have done had Morris and Poole been at their disposal.

Saturday 1/18: Miami 56 Georgia Tech 42

Whereas Tuesday’s loss to the Panthers was difficult but admirable, the Jackets played arguably their most disappointing game of the season in a 56-42 home loss to Miami on Saturday afternoon.

Tech scored a meager 17 points in the first half and sat at measly 23 point total with eight minutes to go in the game. The performance brought back frightening memories from Gregory’s first season at Phillips Arena where the Jackets were held to less than 20 points in 20 minutes numerous times and finished with less than 40 points three times. If it weren’t for a Georges-Hunt triple in the final 30 seconds, the Jackets wouldn’t have broken 40 on Saturday. But even with the late baskets, the performance was still Tech’s lowest point total since the 2012 ACC Tournament (a 54-36 loss against Miami).

All in all, the low-scoring and rock fight style is Miami’s type of game. But it’s equally difficult to ignore the abysmal shooting. These struggles certainly aren’t new for the 2013-14 Yellow Jackets, but Saturday was unquestionably the low point as of today. Tech shot below 30% on the afternoon, 26.5% in the first half, and 20% on 20 attempts from deep. Worst of all, the number of baskets made equaled the number of turnovers: 13.

Individually, both Daniel Miller and Marcus Georges-Hunt were held scoreless through the first half while Chris Bolden finished 0 for 5 from the field (all from three) and only 1 rebound in 30 minutes.

The good news for the Jackets is that they do not have long to wallow as they play Boston College tonight

Looking Ahead:

Tuesday 1/21 9:00pm: Georgia Tech (10-8, 1-4) at Boston College (5-13, 1-4)

The Jackets catch a break this week as they will face two other ACC teams off to slow starts. The first of which, Boston College, is having a shockingly disappointing season. The Eagles were viewed by many including ESPN’s Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg as the big sleepers in the ACC.

The Eagles have struggled to pick up wins, but not to be competitive. Their four conference losses have come by 8, 2, 10, and 11 points. In the two games in which the Eagles lost by double digits, BC was within a single score in the final eight minutes. They even led #2 Syracuse for nearly ten minutes of the second half.

But losses are losses and Boston College and head coach Steve Donahue have seen far too many. Both Donahue and Gregory began their careers at their respective ACC schools in 2011-12 and here’s a comparison of their results so far:

Gregory Donahue

Ultimately the point I wish to make with the chart above is that rebuilding a program is no small task. And considering that Tech has gotten progressively better the last three years while Boston College has take a major step backward this season, it can be argued that Gregory is doing better than Steve Donahue. Just some food for thought.

As for Tuesday night’s game, the Jackets will look to avenge an ACC tournament loss to Boston College last season. The Jackets blazed out of the gate to a 15-0 advantage before the ACC’s Rookie of the Year, Olivier Hanlan, proceeded to put up 41 points in an 84-64 win.

This season however, the Eagles’ primary weapon is their long range shooting. The Eagles have shot a deadly 42% from beyond the arc in conference play and are led by Lonnie Jackson who has put together an impressive string of performances from downtown (5 of 8, 6 of 9, and 4 of 6 in his last three games). The Jackets meanwhile have struggled mightily from three as they are still shooting below 30% both overall and in conference.

On the bright side, Boston College could serve as a refreshing hiatus from physical, inside teams with their primary inside presence, Dennis Clifford, out for the season. Combined with the return of Jason Morris, tonight is an opportunity to get back on the winning side of boards.

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

Sunday 1/26 1:00pm: Georgia Tech at NC State (12-7, 2-4)

Georgia Tech travels to Raleigh, N.C. to face the Wolfpack of N.C. State – a team that swept the Jackets a year ago. Just like Tech and BC, NC State is embarking on its third season with Mark Gottfried at the helm. And take a look at his success:

Gregory Gottfried

Gottfried’s numbers are on another level compared to Gregory and Donahue, but it should be noted that Gottfried inherited a much more stable program than his colleagues. Regardless, there is no doubt that the Gottfried hire has been a success thus far.

The 2013-14 season marks the most challenging of Gottfried’s tenure so far. All five 2012-13 starters did not return this season– two graduations, two NBA draft declarations and an unsettling transfer from five star recruit and freshman shooting guard Rodney Purvis.

It’s proven to be a difficult adjustment for the Pack particularly in ACC play. They dropped four of the first five in conference including two by 30+ points. In both of the blowouts, NC State has been fatally careless with the ball with 16 turnovers against Virginia and 21 turnovers against Duke. In between the spankings, NC State lost a heartbreaker to the Demon Deacons in Winston-Salem on a last second layup by Codi Miller-McIntyre.

But whether NC State wins or loses their offense always runs through one player before any other: T.J. Warren. The sophomore forward leads both his team and the league in scoring with 22.2 points per game. The Durham native leads his team rebounding (7.3), steals per game (1.4) and minutes played per game (35.1). No player in the power conferences takes more shots than Warren – he averages 17.6 per game. To put that in perspective, Georges-Hunt leads Tech in FGA per game with 9.7. He is the alpha male of the Wolfpack offense.

However in last night’s win over the Maryland Terrapins, N.C. State was without T.J. Warren who was declared unavailable only 10 minutes before tip-off. The Wolfpack responded by putting together a team win over the Terps to snap a three game losing streak. Unfortunately for the Jackets, a five day rest period ought to mean that Warren and his sprained ankle ought to ready to go come Sunday.

Outside of Warren NC State has also used impressive play from freshman Anthony ‘Cat’ Barber who leads the team in assists and is third in the ACC among freshman in both points and assists. Ultimately, the Wolfpack live inside. No team gets a higher percentage of their points from inside the arc. To counter this, the Jackets will need to keep NC State out of the paint and force jump shots. And if at all possible try to hit a few of their own.

Tip-off is at 1:00pm and will be broadcast on 106.7 FM and televised on the ACC Network.

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.