After 10-2 start, Georgia Tech gets an ACC reality check

Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory didn't see much that pleased him in the team's first ACC game of the season. (Phil Skinner/AJC)

Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory didn't see much that pleased him in the team's first ACC game of the season. (Phil Skinner/AJC)

Given the most important of metrics – wins and losses – Georgia Tech started the season impressively: 10-2. It was a record so good after a season that was so bad (11-20) that the Yellow Jackets technically could have gone 1-18 the remainder of the season and still not taken a step back from the first one under Brian Gregory.

But what we witnessed Saturday might have provided more clarity about just where Tech sits in this rebuilding process.

In the Jackets’ first ACC game of the season, they were competitive early against Miami (17-17), withered at both ends of the court for the remainder of the first half (outscored 16-6), fell behind by as many as 23 points and eventually lost by a not-so-humiliating 13 (62-49).

“You just have to look at it and say that on Jan. 5, they’re a better team than we are,” Gregory said.

Odds suggest he will be afforded opportunities for similar postgame analysis Jan. 9 against North Carolina State, Jan. 17 against Duke and Jan. 23 against North Carolina, which are three of the next four games. The realistic outlook is the Jackets hope to at least salvage a home win Jan. 12 against Virginia Tech because that’s one of the few ACC teams Tech was projected to finish ahead of before this season began.

Gregory has recruited well. He has won a bunch of early games, which has led to some needed smiles in the fan base. But sometimes in college basketball, early records like 10-2 can give off more warmth and sunshine than reality suggests.

Other than No. 22 Illinois (a 75-62 loss), Tech hadn’t played a tough schedule yet. It was evident in any set of RPI rankings that you wanted to look at before the Miami game.

RealtimeRPI.com had the Jackets ranked 106th Saturday morning, behind the likes of Canisius, South Dakota State, Stonybrook, Wagner, Montana, Florida Gulf Coast and Fairfield (the school, not the budget hotel chain).

Where the Jackets are now is not necessarily where they will be in two weeks or two months. Right now, or at least against Miami, the Jackets couldn’t create on offense like they had in non-conference games, certainly didn’t shoot as well (32.7 percent vs. 44 percent in the first 12 games), were battered on the boards (40-29) and broke down on defense against the bigger and more physical Hurricanes.

It also didn’t help that Miami’s Rion Brown, son of former Tech star Tico Brown, scored 22 points off the bench on 9-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range. (It’s all in the timing: Brown entered only 5-for-38 from 3-range).

“We’re just not there yet — to be able to sustain it on the defensive end if things aren’t there on offense,” Gregory said.

Referencing the non-conference schedule and the ACC’s decision to expand from 16 to 18 conference games this season, Gregory added, “We would’ve had two more high quality teams we would’ve played in non-conference [if not for the conference schedule change]. We’re still not as tested as you’d like to be at this time.”

I understand Gregory’s position on the schedule. But playing at least one more tougher non-conference opponent might have prepared the Jackets better for what’s coming early in the ACC — which is, to say, a sledgehammer.

Tech’s strength of schedule before Saturday was ranked 297th. Miami’s was fourth.

The Jackets’ season ultimately will be defined by how well their young talent, particularly freshmen Robert Carter Jr., Marcus Georges-Hunt and Chris Bolden, develops. It follows that how they react to potentially taking some early lumps in the ACC will be telling.

Gregory again: “Like I’ve said before, you don’t put in all the work and all the time to eliminate the tough times, because in this league, they’re coming. We’re hitting on it after the first game.”

Amazing how one game can change the view.

By Jeff Schultz

52 comments Add your comment

Madmike

January 5th, 2013
7:04 pm

casual observer

January 5th, 2013
7:04 pm

I don’t think any of us Tech followers were expecting much more than a .500 win/lost record this year. We know they are young, we know they didn’t play anybody yet. Patience is required right now. Gregory literally had to start over with this team. They were in disarray after Hewitt left ….Glen Rice, anyone ??? He’s getting good, maybe great players. He’s a good teacher and gameday coach,. Look out next year !!

Madmike

January 5th, 2013
7:05 pm

10-2 means nothing against a bunch of cupcakes. Reality will set in quickly.

Paul in NH

January 5th, 2013
7:17 pm

“how they react to potentially taking some early lumps in the ACC will be telling”

Anyone who looked at the schedule and saw the first 3 ACC road games in the Triangle knew that this is the key to GT’s success this year. I expect GT to play hard all season and improve in the second half of the conference schedule. GT will be improved over last year’s 4-12 ACC record – somewhere between 7-11 and 9-9 in conference, putting them in the NIT

Alabama Jack

January 5th, 2013
7:23 pm

10-3 is better than 6-7

Stinger2

January 5th, 2013
7:29 pm

Agree with Paul, we should not expect miracles. This team will improve over the course of the ACC season. A NIT bid is a realistic goal for this year.

Tony

January 5th, 2013
7:29 pm

What has happened is Tech has beaten some teams that they lost to last year and beat georgie for the 2nd year in a row. They are young and you could see effort wasn’t what it needs to be under the basket on shots that they would have made against the teams they have played. Such is how it is in the ACC. They will learn and grow and win more that last year. This group of freshmen can be something special before they are through if they all stay the 4 years. Another good recruiting class will help keep the players coming. No longer the 1 and done types that we had under Hewitt. Remember they were times not too long ago they couldn’t even inbound the ball. Sometimes you schedule according to talent and/or experience but then come the conference and you have to grow up in a hurry. They will get there.

GT Dad

January 5th, 2013
8:08 pm

Definitely have room to improve and grow, but I still like where we are headed. We are young but I still think we will gel and mature into a really strong team and program.

Go Jackets!

BravesFan79

January 5th, 2013
8:17 pm

They will do well to reach the NIT

Techster

January 5th, 2013
9:01 pm

…doing my best dog fan imitation: The real reason we lost is because of the refs.

LagDawg

January 5th, 2013
9:54 pm

Gregory is doing a great job recruiting and the team is young. The experience they get this year will make them a better team next year. Tech BB will be fine. Just be glad you are not a UGABB fan. The recruiting is horrible, the game plan is horrible and I expected a better job than what Fox is doing. Tech BB headed in the right direction and as usual, UGA’s AD is delusional about the direction of the program.

GT GRAD

January 5th, 2013
9:54 pm

GT has a very young and talented team with a very good coach……..give them a little more time and the GT basketball program will be very solid again!

JDawg

January 5th, 2013
10:03 pm

Don’t you geeks ever get tired of whining about how bad you are? The endless debate over whether you are terrible, or just mediocre is amusing and boring all at the same time. Reading your blogs whether it’s football or basketball is like listening to two old people in a doctor’s office comparing their ailments. I can’t imagine what it must be like to pull for a school that is totally irrelevant in every sport year after year, after year. No wonder you geeks are geeks.

SvenOttke

January 5th, 2013
10:19 pm

And, JDawg, that Tech team beat your Mutts in hoops.. What does that say about your wretched program?

SilentCC

January 5th, 2013
10:51 pm

This loss has proven one thing — the fans aren’t worried. It’s unheard of to have as few posters after a loss as we have here. Two years ago CPH was tried (with an abundance of supporting evidence), sentenced, and summarily executed — daily.

The fact that Tech held Miami to almost UNDER 60 points (62), and only lost by two 3-pointers, three 2-pointers and one foul shot (13), says they ain’t far behind.

Who knows, maybe 5 to 10 more rebounds might have done the trick.

Not… far…. behind.

We happy!

DawgNole

January 5th, 2013
11:01 pm

SilentCC
January 5th, 2013
10:51 pm

The fact that Tech held Miami to almost UNDER 60 points (62), and only lost by two 3-pointers, three 2-pointers and one foul shot (13), says they ain’t far behind.
Who knows, maybe 5 to 10 more rebounds might have done the trick.
Not… far…. behind.
We happy!
_____________________

Happy with a loss? Only losers are happy with a loss.

The Truth

January 5th, 2013
11:01 pm

Truth is the victory over UGA this year while hailed as wonderful by techs midget coach was worthless. The Dawgs are in real program restoration project and tech is living in dreamland which was shattered today. There will be many more losses to come after today, count on it!

The Truth

January 5th, 2013
11:04 pm

I feel another Kennesaw St type loss coming

Tony

January 5th, 2013
11:28 pm

There are no Kennesaw St types on the schedule.

Mac

January 6th, 2013
12:05 am

dang its going to be a while before i can talk smack to my fellow ACC friends

Buzz2011

January 6th, 2013
12:29 am

This is the ACC Shultzy!!! Big time ball and we
have the coach and team to compete in the
best conference in the country. Get used to it.
GT is young but coming fast, very fast!1

Buzz2011

January 6th, 2013
12:31 am

Count on ” the truth” GT big time basketball!
Wish we could schedule those weak Dogs for
five games this year, What a joke in Athens..
They are paying kids just to get 1000 fans to Stegedman..

wheel

January 6th, 2013
12:42 am

Screech fan

January 6th, 2013
7:24 am

Solomon Poole made a difference when he came in, more minutes for him. He help shut down #0, and was all over the court. Udolfia kept losing his man.

Mark Ramsey MD

January 6th, 2013
7:43 am

I also expect GA Tech to be improved from last year. I don’t think they are going to reach .500 in the league this year, but a trip to the NIT is very realistic.

Chief Nocahoma

January 6th, 2013
7:56 am

Screech fan, I saw the same thing you did. Why did CBG wait so long to put in Solomon? He changed the whole dynamic of the game for Tech. Before he came in we were lethargic, slow footed and happy taking outside shots. His play changed the pace of the game to one that favored the Jackets. If only he had seen more minutes I think the outcome would have been much different.

UGA = Yawn

January 6th, 2013
8:25 am

I don’t buy the ‘excuses’. As I see it, Miami was in the same exact position as us. They played non-conf games then opened with their 1st ACC game – against us – on OUR home court – and totally smashed us. So I don’t hear them saying they’ll need more time or more strong non-conf foes early. It’s ALL relative. We are just not that good.

Jacket Fan

January 6th, 2013
8:40 am

Freshmen were not ready for it, and somebody must have convinced the upperclassmen they are better than they actually are. However, this will get better as the remainder of the season goes on. The freshmen actually have the “quicks” to stay with folks like this. We can win six or seven games and maybe get a NIT bid. GO JACKETS!

Iluvnutella

January 6th, 2013
8:53 am

I think Gregory will fail at Tech. Dayton fans thanked us for taking him (sound familiar….Al Groh). I havent seen much from Izzo (Gregory’s mentor) lately as this type of BBall is similiar to our football scheme….outdated. New AD has his work cut out for him….cleaning up after Drads hires…….

ramblingbuzz

January 6th, 2013
9:40 am

A win would have been nice, but what Tech fans want to see is the team getting better as the season progresses. Coach Gregory has the team headed in the right direction. Give him time. We had a long way to come back after Hewitt.

Paul in NH

January 6th, 2013
10:24 am

“I havent seen much from Izzo (Gregory’s mentor) lately”

iluvnutella obviously doesn’t follow much basketball – either that or he has some kind of agenda. MSU is currently 12-3 and ranked in the top 20.
Last year they were Big 10 champions, with a record of 29-8 and a trip to the Sweet 16. MSU were in the Final 4 three years ago and were national runners-up the year before that.
Izzo has never had a losing record in the Big 10

bravos

January 6th, 2013
10:26 am

Poole did look good. It is one game in a tough league against a team with 4 seniors starting and lots of experience. The freshmen look good but lacking a go to guy from the perimeter who can create his own shot or shots for others. Poole may be that guy but he has only played 3 weeks. Foul trouble hurt some too yesterday with Miller and Carter picking up 2 early fouls each. Let the season play out. The talent level is soo much better than it was before that I can watch this. If Rice had a head on his shoulders and was around, he would have made the difference but if dogs had wings …… you know.

George P. Burdell

January 6th, 2013
10:43 am

This year’s team reminds me of the team the year before we went to the Final Four. That team got clobbered in the first half of the ACC season and then went on a nice run in the second half. I don’t know if we have enough from the PG position to repeat that kind of success, but as our freshmen get more seasoned it will only help our cause. I don’t know of any reasonable Tech fans that were expecting us to go out and compete for the league title this year. We were in really bad shape and you don’t get over that overnight. Even the announcer yesterday was talking about how much more involved Miller has been in Gregory’s system than he was as a freshman. They never came out and said Hewitt didn’t uitlize him properly, but it was right there if you put 2 and 2 together. It is clear to most that this team is on its way up. That doesn’t mean we haven’t made progress if we don’t get there right away and it doesn’t mean we won’t have set backs along the way. I am perfectly happy with the progress we are making and it will show up in the next couple of seasons. If it doesn’t, then we can start worrying about the coaching but until then, ignore the naysayers who mostly seem to be AJC writers with column quotas to meet and UGA fans.

Steve

January 6th, 2013
11:22 am

Gotta love Tech fans making fun of UGA basketball. UGA never has been or ever will be a basketball school. Just like Tech never has been or ever will be a football school.

to the UGA idiots on here:

January 6th, 2013
12:13 pm

Gregory has recruited well. He has won a bunch of early games, which has led to some needed smiles in the fan base. But sometimes in college basketball, early records like 10-2 can give off more warmth and sunshine than reality suggests.
———————————
Wow, now if only the UGA-biased writers were brave enough to inform all the UGA fans that this is the same scenario as UGA football.

“Richt has recruited well…won a bunch of games, which has led to needed smiles…but in CFB, certain team’s 12-2 or 10-4 records give off more warmth & sunshine than reality suggest.”

Biff Pocoroba

January 6th, 2013
12:53 pm

Poole is just like Vad Lee. He is talented and will make some nice plays to make people want coach to put him in. However, he is going to throw the ball away and make some bad decisions since he doesn’t know the offense yet. If the teaam falls apart the way CPJ’s team did, hopefully he will start at the end of the year since Mfon is a senior and not be as stubborn as PJ was with Tevin.

Smyrna Gold

January 6th, 2013
2:06 pm

Can someone please tell me when we can expect a new AD, Defense Coordinator and a new head football coach. I don’t understand who is driving this train much less tooting the horn.

DP

January 6th, 2013
2:28 pm

If your reaction to 2 additional conference games is to get rid of 2 good out of conference opponents and keep all the cream puffs, you’re essentially admitting that your ambition is to make the NCAA tournament as a bubble team instead of trying to win championships.

jacket backer

January 6th, 2013
2:45 pm

No Tech fans I know believed the program was back. We like CBG and believe he’s got the team heading in the right direction. The ACC is tough and wins will be hard to come by. Hopefully they will better their ACC record from a year ago and make the NIT….Next year maybe a shot at the tourney. The program was in very bad shape. This will take some time…..As always……

Go Jackets!!

Techster

January 6th, 2013
3:34 pm

Reading the weird posts from the Georgia fans……………..dog trolls, you are seriously deranged and I urge each of you to get professional psychiatric counseling immediately. You ought to also see help from a medical doctor as some of you are exhibiting the early symptoms of Mad Cow disease.

Steve

January 6th, 2013
3:45 pm

I guess Techster needs a hug.

Bill

January 6th, 2013
5:13 pm

I think Tech’s Realtime RPI of 109 says more about Realtime’s accuracy than about Tech. Do you really think Stonybrook, Wagner or Fairfield would beat Tech?

Supersize that order, mutt

January 6th, 2013
5:15 pm

Steve

January 6th, 2013
11:22 am

Gotta love Tech fans making fun of UGA basketball. UGA never has been or ever will be a basketball school. Just like Tech never has been or ever will be a football school.

______________________________________________________________________________

Steve, so 4 NC’s in football, two of the greatest football coaches anywhere who coached at Tech (Heisman and Dodd), more conference championships (when still in the same conferences) than UGA, and a total of more conference championships even now than UGA, 2 of the most famous football games ever played (Cumberland and Cal in the Rose Bowl), and you actually post garbage like that. Sure UGA has owned Tech since Dodd retired (other than for a few very notable Tech wins), but we have a far richer football history and tradition in spite of that than UGA has.

Bill

January 6th, 2013
5:21 pm

I think Tech’s Realtime RPI of #106 says more about Realtime’s accuracy than about Tech. Do you really think Stonybrook, Wagner or Fairfield would beat Tech?

Techster

January 6th, 2013
6:20 pm

….being ignorant never stopped dog trolls from submitting posts that expose their ignorance.

Supersize that order, mutt

January 6th, 2013
6:32 pm

@ Techster……VERY TRUE !!!

John T.

January 6th, 2013
10:02 pm

Jeff, I guess I don’t get the “point” of your article in the first place. Was it an attack on Gregory, GT, or the few GT unrealistic fans. It is year two in the program. Most of our contributers are in their first or second year (and one just showed up a few weeks ago). The trajectory seems right for YEAR 2. He is recruiting well and they are definitiely playing better than last year. Why don’t you stir another pot and do an expose of Mark Fox and his program, they are in year 4 and holding.

William Casey

January 7th, 2013
10:29 am

The point of the article is a realistic assessment of where GT’s basketball program is RIGHT NOW. The short answer is: headed in the RIGHT DIRECTION. Actually being at the game (as I was) gives one a better appreciation for what having four seniors with experience means. Those Miami guys were talented, grown men. Our most talented players are just out of high school. I thought that with Johnson out, playing at home, GT might have a chance. No way. I expect 7-9 ACC wins, at best.

POSITIVES I took away from Saturday’s game:

1. When Daniel Miller is in the game, GT is solid on defense.
2. Carter, Hunt and Bolden are good enough to play in the ACC.
3. Royal and Jordan contributed as defensive role players.
4. Holsey gives the Jackets nice offensive punch inside off the bench.
5. Soloman Poole is a talented, high energy guy with a great future. Only someone who had never coached basketball would turn the PG position over to him right now.

MYSTERIES: Jason Morris and rebounding.

jackets23

January 7th, 2013
12:01 pm

dawg 5 yards away from beating bama.Tech 5 shots away from beating miami.so close

wreckmaniac

January 7th, 2013
12:29 pm

When you lose a conference game at home by double digits against a non-Duke or non-North Carolina opponent, you have problems.