Hey, there’s some consolation for Tech fans after a nutty 48-hour stretch that included a blow-out loss at Duke and a hang-on-for-dear-life win over N.C. State.
The Yellow Jackets just moved up a step in the Associated Press poll today, from No. 21 to No. 20.
It’s just a figurative pat on the back, yes, but it also tells you something about the bigger picture. A loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium isn’t the end of the world, and a win is a win.
There’s no question this has been a wobbly stretch at a strange time from a Tech team that should be rounding into shape for the February run. But there’s not much time to sit around and pout and reflect, with a game at Miami coming up on Wednesday and at Wake Forest on Saturday.
From what I gathered in the time spent around Tech today, talking to Paul Hewitt and a few players before their walk-through practice this afternoon, they are handling this like they should.
After some time to cool off, Hewitt thought he overreacted in the shots he took at his players in his postgame comments. (In case you missed it, here’s a link to my game story. http://www.ajc.com/sports/georgia-tech/tech-nearly-collapses-vs-293070.html)
“I probably overreacted,” Hewitt said. “Sitting back and watching it, not probably, I definitely overreacted. I can only think of one half all year we just didn’t play with the level of toughness and intent we needed on defense. It was more frustration than anything else.”
I’m assuming that one half he was talking about was the second half Thursday night against Duke, which is probably part of the reason he’d built up so much emotion, right along with Saturday’s meltdown from a 16-point lead with four minutes to play.
But Hewitt said the three players involved with many of the mistakes Tech made late, trying to inbound the ball against NC State’s press, took responsibility.
“The guys that were involved in it said ‘Coach, we just screwed up; we didn’t do the things we were supposed to do,’” Hewitt said. “They know we’ve got a good team. We’ve got a chance to do something pretty significant here, and we feel like we dodged one the other day. Now let’s take advantage of this opportunity we were granted.”
That’s not to say they didn’t address the issues they were having. In what Hewitt called a very spirited practice this morning, they worked on inbounds plays. And he said he was going to take a closer look at his players’ free throw shooting this afternoon.
Hewitt normally has players shoot 50 free throws every day. Sometimes that means it’s on their own time, if their class schedules and study halls keep them from staying late at practice. But after the walk-through today, Hewitt was going to make sure he watched them shoot their 50, especially Gani Lawal.
“You don’t go from making 17 of 20 at Charlotte to now 3 of last 12 (vs. Duke and State),” Hewitt said. “There’s definitely a flaw there. He’s going back and forth.”
After going 0-for-4 at the line vs. N.C. State, Lawal’s season free throw percentage was down to 64 percent. As a team, Tech is shooting 67.7 percent at the line.
Peacock on Hewitt’s post-game comments
Senior Zachery Peacock, for one, didn’t think Hewitt overreacted in his comments after Saturday’s game.
“I don’t feel like he overreacted at all because as a coach, he expects more than what we do from ourselves at times,” Peacock said. “He set the bar that we need to reach.”
He said players on the team discussed it, but not to whine.
“It wasn’t really something to talk about, it was something to correct,” Peacock said. “We discussed it again, but it was a discussion about what we can do better to make him happy.”
Shumpert’s over his sickness
Iman Shumpert, who played Tech’s last two games with a virus, which left him with a queasy stomach and a headache, is feeling better and back to himself. Hewitt said he practiced this morning at fullspeed and Shumpert was upbeat and said he felt good when I saw him this afternoon.
Glen Rice Jr. vs. Jon Scheyer
I didn’t get a chance to ask Glen Rice Jr. about his run-in with Duke guard Jon Scheyer late in the Duke game Thursday, when Rice pushed Scheyer down in frustration late in the game, while trying to defend Scheyer in a trap. Rice was called for a technical foul, and things calmed pretty quickly after that. But here’s what Rice had to say today about it:
“It was an intense game and he caught me with an elbow, and I lost a little control for a second,” said Rice, who spoke with Scheyer after the game. “I apologized to him and told him it was all in the game. And he understood.”
Rice actually said “bow” for elbow but I wrote it all out for any of you, who like me, aren’t up on the latest lingo.
I asked Hewitt about it too, about the fine line there where he doesn’t want Rice to lose his passion, but maybe a tad of his fire?
Here’s his take.
“That was an unfortunate, and I talked to him about that the next day,” Hewitt said. “He reacted very poorly and he knew it. I don’t want him to lose that passion, to lose that spirit that he has because it’s really been a positive thing. It’s been great to get him off the bench. He gets his hands on the ball and creates a deflection or gets out in transition and throws the perfect alley-oop pass to Derrick (Favors) or Gani. I just sparks us.
“What happened that night obviously was unfortunate, but I also chalk it up a little bit to youthfulness. And he knows. When I talked to him the next day, he readily admitted, ‘Coach I shouldn’t have done that. I lost my cool.’”