OK, let’s see how quickly I can bang out a blog with about 15 minutes to go before I board my flight back to Atlanta. I thought it might be good to clear the air after yesterday’s game and allow you guys to take a deep breath today.
You may or may not want to hear this, but I thought that was a heck of a game yesterday and one that showed many more positive signs for Tech than negative.
The way Tech played earlier in the year, that team goes to Maryland and gets blown out by 20. The fact that the Yellow Jackets just came a last-second shot from beating the team that’s No. 2 in the ACC is legit. Want to complain about the loss at Miami? I’m all ears. Should have figured a way to win one of those game against Florida State? By all means.
But that game yesterday was a sign that Georgia Tech is playing well as a team and making a push to play some of its best basketball heading into March. Derrick Favors was an absolute monster yesterday – season-high 21 points, season-high 18 rebounds, only one foul. He showed the kind of aggressiveness late in the game – including two putback baskets in the final 57 seconds, that should give Tech confidence and other teams fears that Favors is going to find a way to make things happen down the stretch.
He also hit both his free throws with 2:36 left. He’s showing you his fire right there, belying that calm demeanor everybody sees on the outside.
So does Tech take advantage of the progress Favors is making? They’ll need to in their final three games against Boston College Saturday, at Clemson Tuesday and at home against Virginia Tech on March 6 to get off the bubble and safely into the NCAA tournament.
The free throw line continues to be a big problem. Tech was 11-for-20 there yesterday, including 2-for-8 from Gani Lawal. That is a killer, no doubt. Outside of Lawal, the Yellow Jackets went 9-for-12 at the line. They need him to find a way to settle down and regain his confidence there. Just two games ago Lawal made 7-of-10 free throws at Wake. He’s got it in him.
And Lawal looked to me yesterday like he was trying to be too aggressive around the basket, if that’s possible. He went up seemingly too strong with a lot of his shots and didn’t have much touch. If anything, I think that comes from trying so hard. And I think as a junior, with a lot of experience, he’ll find a way to get his game turned back around from the last two game when he’s gone 9-for-24. He still finished with 12 points yesterday but Tech could have really used those two free throws he missed with 1:44 to play and the game tied 68-68.
Paul Hewitt said after the game yesterday that he felt like Tech was on the verge of something really big, and that he felt they deserved a break to go their way. The Yellow Jackets did play like that to me, that they are on the verge on winning a game or games like they lost yesterday. Just one more play and it’s theirs.
For a little perspective, I thought I’d include what Maryland coach Gary Williams had to say after the game yesterday.
“That game was a great game,” Williams said. “When you win a game like that and when you have been on the other side of that, which I have been, you have empathy for Paul Hewitt in this case because they did everything right to win the game and they didn’t. That’s the tough side of coaching sometimes and I don’t think they could have done anything different than they did. Georgia Tech is probably playing as well as anyone in the league, and I am sure down the stretch it is going to be interesting with what they do because of their toughness, size, guard play, all of those things that they do have.”
With that, I’m going to leave it to you guys. Tech will take today and tomorrow off, then begin practicing Tuesday for Saturday’s game at home against Boston College.
Note: I wanted to let you guys know that I’m taking this week off to clear my head for what should be a busy March between at least one trip to cover the Braves in spring training, maybe two, and covering the Yellow Jackets in the ACC and NCAA tournaments. I know a lot of you are down, but from what I saw yesterday, I believe it could turn out to be a busy March after all.
I’ll be back blogging next week heading into the Clemson game. Meanwhile I’m sure Doug Roberson will be posting and you guys will have a place to gather. Thanks for blogging with me!