It is perhaps not Georgia Tech basketball coach Brian Gregory’s preferred way to chart progress, but here it is – when the Yellow Jackets were outrebounded last year, they were 2-11.
Going into its Saturday night game against UNC-Wilmington, Tech has been outrebounded in its past four games, but has won two of them. Gregory, for whom rebounding and toughness are bedrock principles, may take encouragement that his team has been able to win when it hasn’t gotten the job done on the glass.
Probably not much encouragement, though.
“If we don’t get better, it’s going to come back to haunt us,” Gregory said. “There’s no question about that.”
Following its win over Georgia on Tuesday, the Jackets have five more non-conference games before opening up the ACC schedule Jan. 5 against Miami. Fixing the rebounding is Gregory’s highest priority. How much has Gregory mentioned getting outrebounded in the past four games?
Said center Daniel Miller, “A lot.”
Gregory cited extenuating circumstances. Against Georgia, Tech faced a team that played with high energy and was in Gregory’s opinion at least the Jackets’ equal, if not superior, in length, athleticism and depth. With three freshmen getting minutes, their adjustment to the tenacity and technique required to rebound at the college level is ongoing.
That said, Gregory said, the Jackets need to do a better job of blocking out both on the perimeter and closer to the basket and also on the shooter, a lapse that cost Tech against Georgia a few times.
“We just need to have a greater sense of urgency when it comes to the fact that, if I’m not hitting somebody and someone’s next to me that can be hit, we need to hit him,” Gregory said, before stopping to point out that he did not mean literally mean hitting, but putting a body on an opponent.
A year ago, in Gregory’s first season, Tech finished third in the ACC in rebounding margin (plus 3.5). Tech is sixth this season at 2.4. However, as Gregory noted, the trend is headed the wrong way, as California, Saint Mary’s, Illinois and Georgia all claimed more rebounds. It bears mention that those are probably also the four strongest teams that Tech has faced this year.
“When we lost (to Cal and Illinois), it could have been different if we’d won the rebounding battle,” Miller said. “It’s something we’ve got to get better at.”
Four of the final five games before ACC play starts may not offer the sternest challenging to Tech’s rebounding chops. Through games of Dec. 2, the rebounding margins for UNC-Wilmington (minus 3.0), Alabama State (minus 10.6), the Citadel (plus .5) and Fordham (minus 7.4) were not quite fearsome. Chattanooga, Tech’s Jan. 2 opponent, was plus 10.0.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog