Brian Gregory and the Yellow Jackets have fallen to 0-5 in conference play after losing 70-65 to the Pittsburgh Panthers.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
The Yellow Jackets were closing in on the lead when a decision was made by Jackets’ coach Brian Gregory that deserves some scrutiny.
With Pittsburgh up 63-60 with 1:01 second left in the game, the Yellow Jackets were told by Coach Gregory to foul a Pitt player in order to prolong the game.
With 55 seconds remaining, Travis Jorgenson fouls Panthers’ guard Chris Jones, sending him to the line.
That decision generated this tweet from @chester9113:
The reasoning for that tweet was sound, and thus begins the analysis of Brian Gregory’s decision.
Basically @chester9113, a.k.a Chad Miller felt, and rightfully so, that the Yellow Jackets should have played solid defense and tried for the defensive stop.
Let’s say that Coach Gregory goes that route, that would mean that Pittsburgh would have had a 35 second shot clock that we all know they are going to melt.
That is going to take the clock from 1:01 to about 26 seconds left in the game.
If Pittsburgh gets a shot off, misses and gets the offensive rebound, Tech basically is going to have to foul anyway to stop the clock.
If Pittsburgh scores, Tech is down five or six with 26 seconds or less left.
Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
If Pittsburgh misses and Georgia Tech gets the rebound, Gregory likely advances the ball across half-court and ask for a timeout leaving 20 seconds or less on the clock.
So you have two scenarios where Pittsburgh can get points and leaves Georgia Tech with barely any time.
You also have another scenario where Georgia Tech has gotten the stop, but now you are asking your struggling offense to either hit a quick layup to cut the lead to one, or you have to draw up a three-point play to tie.
Even in the latter scenario, a layup means that you are going to have to foul and prolong the game, and the Jackets hitting trey to tie is a low percentage proposition.
So Brian Gregory decided to foul in this situation. He had Jorgenson foul a 67.9% free throw shooter in Chris Jones. Jones hit both free throws, and in fact, went to the line again to drain a couple more a few seconds later.
The Jackets were able to stretch the 55 seconds that was left on the clock by having Pitt shoot eight free throws, which they made seven of.
Brian Gregory did the right thing. It is better to play the percentages in the situation and stretch the game, than take the chance of having 35 seconds burned off the clock and either not getting the rebound or seeing Pitt score.
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You really want as many opportunities as you can to have Pitt come up with empty trips, and if they were missing free throws, those count as empty trips for Tech to try to capitalize on.
The Panthers did a good job of knocking down their free throws to end the game, plain and simple.
People want to pile on Brian Gregory for the foul, but that was the right move to make.
You are going to have to find something else to complain about when it comes to him.
I’m sure that if fans look hard enough they can find something.