Georgia Tech's win over NC State last nite in Raleigh put the Jacket's record at 9-9 and 2-3 in the ACC. So why am I so excited when they have such a mediocre record? Because last night's game was exciting and the Jackets are finally "jelling" bay-beee! This victory over NC State at their house was the first for the Jackets in the last dozen tries.
The insertion of D'Andre Bell has picked up their defensive effort for sure, but the big surprise is the token white-boy, milktoast Matt Causey. Causey, a 5th year senior, is from Georgia and grew up watching GT basketball. He was not recruited by Tech out of high school, and he ended up at Georgetown University before transferring to North Georgia. After the Jackets lost their two freshman stars to the NBA last year, Hewitt brought in Causey to play at point guard. This is the story of a young man making the most of his dream come true: to play with the Georgia Tech Yellowjacket jersey at the Institute's Thriller Dome. He knows he is not going to the NBA, but he is a student of Georgia Tech basketball point-guard history and leaves his heart on the court every time he enters the game. He scored 30 against Virginia Tech the other night followed up by 18 last night against NC State. My favorite was a little spin move backboard shot after a behind the back dribble on a fast break. That said, the lob to Jeremis Smith and the subsequent monster tomahawk dunk was one for the ages! Oh Doctor!!
I just read on the Ga Tech website that Causey, who has no cartilage in his left knee, has overcome a dislocated kneecap, a dislocated shoulder and a dislocated jaw this year and has yet to miss a game.
After a miserable start, the Jackets are playing with energy, and there is a chemistry in the huddles during timeouts that just wasn't there earlier in the season. Hewitt is playing scorer Lewis Clinch off the bench, which took some guts as he set himself up for some criticism. But the defense is not doubt much better now, and all the kids are really enjoying themselves on the offensive end. They are beginning to play unselfishly, which is the sign of a team that wants to win at any cost.
So, can they make the NCAA's after such a bad start? I think they can. Look at their results this year against top-25 opponents (all loses, so far..):
L, 83-79, #8 Indiana (at Indiana)
L, 92-79, #14 Vanderbilt (at Vandy, ok, they looked terrible in this game!)
L, 71-66, #2 Kansas, they gave this game away with turnovers
L, 83-82, #1 at the time, North Carolina (Jackets with a last second shot to win the game)
The Jackets have proved they can play with anybody. They are now gaining confidence that they can close out a game and post a W on the board. I especially like how they played smart at the end of the NC State game, getting the ball into Morrow's hands who is 85% from the foul line. He sank 4 foul shots in the last 19 seconds to put the game away.
I guarantee you the teams within the ACC are very aware of the Jackets power. On the national stage, they are probably a well kept secret. Hopefully, the Jackets can keep posting wins in the ACC and work their way into March Madness. If so, they could surprise on the upside bay-beee!