Greensboro, N.C. — When I was covering Kentucky for the Lexington Herald-Leader back in 1982, a UK assistant coach named Bob Chambers used to kid me about how I kept raving about the job Don DeVoe was doing with Tennessee. (This was when Dale Ellis, the pride of Marietta High, was the Vols’ best player.) DeVoe and Ellis, Ellis and DeVoe … I admit I became a bit of a bore on the topic.
Finally Coach Chambers — a very nice man — could take no more. “Mark,” he said, “we’re going to be headed for New Orleans [site of the 1982 Final Four] and you’re going to be running behind the bus yelling, ‘What about DeVoe?’ ”
I mention this because I realize I’ve become rather repetitive on the subject of Georgia Tech’s potential. After a regular season in which the Jackets finished under .500 against ACC competition and managed one road victory in the conference, I can still – still — see Tech playing in the ACC tournament semis on Saturday. Heck, I could see the Jackets playing for the title on Sunday.
About now, you’re saying, “Are you nuts? There’s no guarantee the Jackets win tonight!” And there isn’t. But I think they do. I think they win handily. North Carolina is terrible. I know the game is in Greensboro, which is a Tar Heel city, but from what I’ve seen a lot of baby blue backers have given up on this team, and for good reason.
Me, I haven’t given up on the Jackets. They haven’t won three consecutive games since 2009 turned to 2010, but they could manage it here. They can beat Carolina — they’ve done it twice — and they nearly beat Maryland in College Park. (Tech would play the Terps on Friday if it wins tonight.) And then they could get Florida State in the semis, and the Jackets are way past due to beat the Seminoles.
Look at it this way: We all know Tech hasn’t played its best basketball to date, but we’ve seen enough glimpses to know there’s sufficient talent on this roster to get it right. And if you’re going to make a three-day run to the ACC championship game, you have to be deep. And this team is.
And with that, I’m going to go lie down on someone’s couch and have my head examined. I’ve seen the Jackets play five times in person, and only twice have they won. And still I keep waiting for this team to figure it out. It makes no sense, but there it is. I’m a nonsensical guy.
And now the floor is open for our usual live chat. I’ll be here until the game ends – I call it Tech 73, Carolina 57 — and I hope you’ll join me for all the color and pageantry of the only conference tournament that matters. (Except for the Big East. That one’s going great, huh?) I’d consider it a honor and a privilege if you’d join me.