College basketball is supposed to be fun. What’s happening at Georgia Tech is not fun. It’s sad.
After Virginia beat the Jackets 62-56 Wednesday, players from both teams spoke of the difficulty in playing before such few fans. (Attendance was announced at 5,537. It seemed rather less.)
It didn’t feel like a basketball game between members of the conference that takes basketball the most seriously. It felt like one of those September games back in the middle ’80s when the Braves were in last place and there were 5,000 folks in the old stadium and you could sit anyplace you liked and you wondered, “Is anybody in the world watching this on TV? If so, why?”
As for this game: Tech didn’t play all that horribly. It outscored Virginia from the field and took 13 more rebounds. The Jackets made only 10 turnovers. There was no reason to lose, but they did. They led 46-43 with seven minutes left. When next they scored, the basket came inside the final two minutes and cut the visitor’s lead from nine to seven.
To its credit, the Jackets made a little rally. They usually do. Glen Rice Jr., who hadn’t played much due to a disciplinary intervention, stole the ball on the press and fed Moe Miller for a three-point play. Rice scored — his only hoop — to cut it to three. With fiveseconds left Mfon Udofia picked up a loose ball and hoisted a wild three-pointer while drawing a foul, and if the shot had dropped he’d have had a chance to tie the game. As it was, he had three free throws. He missed all three. (Only the last, presumably, on purpose.)
And so: Another Tech loss, this in a game in which it was favored. Another Tech loss, this to a team no more talented than the Jackets. (Virginia had lost eight of 11 games.) Another Tech loss, and at its end there came no cascade of boos. There was only more of the numbness that has come to enshroud this once buoyant program.
I feel for Tech fans. I feel for Tech players, who are trying hard with not much to show for it. I feel for everyone involved in this bleak tableau. There’s nothing fun here.
By Mark Bradley