It was their first conference win, and it was against a very physical and well-coached Notre Dame team. In that win, the Georgia Tech men’s basketball team played a complete game against a quality opponent, and showed that winning against good teams is still possible without injured forward, Robert Carter, Jr.
Since Carter went out at the end of December, head coach Brian Gregory has been shuffling the lineup around, trying to find the magical mix that will get Tech back on the winning side of things. But honestly, it may not have been the mix of players so much as it was what those players are asked to do.
Gregory has the right pieces, he just needs to use them in the right way. When you have arguably the best center in the ACC on your team, you need to make him the biggest concern of the other team. Notre Dame had to worry about Daniel Miller all day at both ends of the court.
The Jackets played Georgia Tech basketball against Notre Dame, and were not trying to play catch-up all afternoon. They got the ball down low to Miller and Kammeon Holsey, and (as usual) dominated the boards. They played strong half-court defense, and didn’t take bad shots or unnecessarily launch threes like a bunch of chuckers.
Most importantly, the guards seemed to find their stroke hitting from the outside, keeping the Irish from falling back into a zone defense as often as they may have wanted. When Jason Morris, Trae Golden and Marcus Georges-Hunt are hitting their shots, it makes everything else work. They all used great ball movement today, and didn’t just toss up a shot at the first chance.
This is what the Jackets have been missing. Yes, the lack of Carter’s size and his scoring has made a difference, but it’s the guard play that has kept Tech from being even marginally close in any ACC contests until today. That, as well as turning the ball over and missing free throws, two fundamental areas of the game where the Jackets have been burning themselves all season.
If Gregory will continue to use his bigs the way he did today, and work from the inside out, making defenses collapse to the interior to free up some easy jumpers inside the arc, this could be a very dangerous Georgia Tech team, and could potentially make some noise in the ACC.