For all that’s not good about having a team need to make adjustments at point guard this late in the game….let me say, that watching Moe Miller go to work in the last two games had been a neat thing to see.
You always like seeing guys do well, even more so, when they’ve been on the bench for the better part of the season, waiting for a chance.
But watching Miller do his thing the last two games, especially Tuesday night against North Carolina, I noticed something else too: he really seems to have a great knack for getting the ball to Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal, and that’s exactly what Tech needs.
Miller found Favors multiple times on the break, for dunks, including once with a no-look pass. And he had this to say about it afterward:
“It’s a beautiful feeling, just to get going,” Miller said. “I actually got going with him off the screen and roll, I got him that pass. When he dunked it, I felt like I dunked it. Ever since then I was excited, and I was hyped into it the whole way.”
Miller and Favors had a little fun sitting beside each other last night at the post-game press conference. I asked Moe if he and Favors had worked up a good chemistry in practice:
“He thinks he can pass the ball better than me but other than that,” Miller said with a smile. “He’ll be like ‘I got vision.’”
But even more importantly than just finding Favors in transition, were some of the passes Miller made to the post. I remember one play in particular in the second half, when Miller found Lawal after he’d established position down low. Lawal didn’t make the basket but got fouled on the play. I remember Lawal pointing at Miller excitedly after the play, and holding it there, until Miller saw it.
That gesture said to me “Yes, that’s exactly what I want, what I’ve been waiting for.”
Lawal missed the free throws, but the idea was there (The old issues are not going away. Lawal was 1-for-6 from the free throw line, Favors was 1-for-5. That’s nine of the 12 misses Tech had while going 12-for-24 for the game.)
There was also a time when Miller found Zachery Peacock down on the low block, and Peacock got fouled. So those two plays don’t show up as assists in the stat sheet, but they’re showing me something.
Here’s more of what Miller had to say last night about making those passes to the post:
“I just tell (Favors), and I tell Gani too, to keep working and to the best of my ability I’ll try to get it to them because I feel like they work harder than anybody on this team,” Miller said. “They bang bodies. It’s a tough job to do. So a lot of the times they deserve it because they work real hard for it. It’s my job to make that effort to get it to them.”
Miller is a junior, and he’s playing like a veteran. Maybe that experience is just what Tech needs to run the show as Iman Shumpert tries to get straightened out. Shumpert is struggling right now (zero points in the last two games. He played only 15 minutes vs. North Carolina after picking up two early fouls.)
Still eighth in the conference
Tech (18-8, 6-6) is down to four games in ACC play, two on the road at Maryland Saturday and Clemson and two at home against Boston College and Virginia Tech. You all but banking on 2-2? Why not, since Tech is 5-1 at home and 1-5 on the road in ACC play.
But then, of course, you consider that Virginia Tech just moved up to No. 2 in the ACC standings by coming from 11 points down to beat Wake Forest last night. And guard Malcolm Delaney is one of the toughest matchups in the league.
The road will be as tough as ever. On Saturday, Tech travels to DC and nothing comes easy there. Maryland rebounded from a loss at Duke by walloping Virginia 85-66 Monday night behind 30 points from Greivis Vasquez to move to 12-1 at the Comcast Center this season.
Maryland has to play N.C. State tonight while Tech is idle, after playing a makeup game against Virginia on Monday. Advantage, Tech? We shall see.
I’ll let the man of the hour explain what Tech’s mindset is at this point:
“Right now we’re not worried about ‘what’s our record in the conference,’” Miller said. “We just want to win out from here on out. Wherever we fall, if we’re second or third, or if we’re eighth, we’re 10-6. That’s our goal. Just win every game, position ourselves the best we can for the conference and for the NCAA tournament.”