Posted: 5:09 pm Monday, January 13th, 2014

3 takeaways from Tech-Notre Dame 

By Ken Sugiura

A little late coming, but bursting with insight as always. My game story here.

1. Corey Heyward showed a little spark. The redshirt freshman gave 12 minutes off the bench. He didn’t score, but had four rebounds and two assists with no turnovers. He defended Eric Atkins, Notre Dame’s point guard, effectively. Being a freshman and also coming off two ACL surgeries, it’s hard to expect him to give this sort of performance on a game-in, game-out basis, but the more he can do it, the more rest it can give Trae Golden.

You may have noticed that Solomon Poole was not on the bench. As I wrote in the game story, he was out with a migraine headache. It hit him a few days before the game and he was hoping to watch the game from the bench, but it was evidently severe enough that he could not make it. He was expected to see a doctor Saturday. Talking Brian Gregory Monday, it isn’t clear whether he’ll play Tuesday against Pitt.

Stacey Poole was available but did not play. He played 12 minutes against Maryland and five against Duke. There were five ACC games that he did not play in, including one that he missed for personal reasons.

I suspect this will continue. He has given Tech an energy boost at various times this season, and will likely get minutes according to matchups and situations, but I think Gregory increasingly likes Quinton Stephens coming off the bench.

2. Tech again showed its habit of turning it on and off. It worked out better than against Vanderbilt and St. John’s, when Tech had a double-digit lead in the first half before losing by wide margins. Saturday, Tech had a 17-4 lead that was reduced to two points before the end of the first half and a 54-39 lead with 13:59 to go that vanished after the Jackets failed to score over the next five minutes and 26 seconds.

Notre Dame took the lead three different times before Tech closed the game on a 7-1 run.

This hardly makes Tech unique. Duke led Notre Dame by 10 with 11:35 to go before losing two weekends ago. Gregory acknowledged again that Tech sometimes struggles maintaining its peak. There is a fine line, he said, between aggressive and overaggressive.

“We want to keep making great plays, great plays, great plays,” Gregory said. “To build a rally, you need to keep hitting singles, keep hitting singles. Sometimes, we go for the gusto a little more so than maybe we need. Or if we they score two baskets, that next one, we need a really good possession.”

That said, though, the fact that Tech took such a commanding lead is indicative of its potential. Notre Dame had trailed by 15 only once before this season, to Indiana State in a November loss.

3. How big a win is this? Hard to say. Notre Dame isn’t as strong as it has been, it would appear. The Irish have made the NCAA tournament six of the past seven seasons, but were No. 90 in RPI on Monday. (Tech is No. 120.) It’s not gigantic, like beating Miami was last year, but it’s something. Maybe it’s best described as a tough win but the kind that Tech needs to have, and maybe should have, at home.

This is shaping up to be a pretty interesting season in the ACC. On the same day that Tech won, North Carolina and Duke both lost. In fact, North Carolina, Duke and N.C. State all lost on the same day for the first time since 1996, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard. It maybe goes without saying, but it would appear neither the Tar Heels nor the Blue Devils are as strong as they typically are. Syracuse appears entirely legit.

Given that North Carolina has already lost to Wake Forest and Miami (which was picked 12th in the preseason poll), and that the same Clemson team (picked 14th) that beat Duke Saturday had lost to Florida State two days earlier by 15 points, it would appear that not much can be assumed this season.

21 comments
leegoza
leegoza

An inconsistent preseason, two blow-outs on the road and a close home victory in conference play... I hate to say it but I think we can assume that we are destined to win about one out of every 3 games in the ACC, same as the last three seasons, and wind up in the bottom third of the standings. I hope I am wrong but I just don't see the big improvement everyone else seems to have observed.

BearCasey
BearCasey

The defense was considerably better.  The "hedge and recover" against screens out front was much quicker and more precise.  Stephens has been a pleasant surprise.  He has high energy an can shoot. Coming out of Marist, he has been well-coached.  Heyward's defense was impressive as well.  Boy, are we going to miss Miller next year!  He defends away from the basket as well as any big man I have seen in a long time!

JacketTime
JacketTime

Impressed with Bolden's play also. He has improved dramatically.

JacketTime
JacketTime

ACC wheel of destiny in basketball now?

juvenal
juvenal

bursting with insight? you up for a pulitzer, Ken?

crackbaby
crackbaby

kudos to Chris Bolden.  He appeared to break out of his funk and made some shots.

crackbaby
crackbaby

@Jim70 - with that mask, he reminds me of a taller Rip Hamilton.

crackbaby
crackbaby

Much needed win for the White and Gold.  Team defense was very good.  MGH pretty much shut down Connaughton and DMiller dominated Sherman.  Nice to see the Jackets move the ball on offense and knock down some shots.


Q has a smooth shot.  Kid could become a force.


Tough sledding tonight against Pitt.  Bring it! GO JACKETS!

BigTimeJacketFan
BigTimeJacketFan

Heyward looked good, but needs to find a shot to take, otherwise folks will quit guarding him and double up on somebody else.  Stephens looked good; needs to get some backspin on his shot.  With all the players out, I do not understand how Gregory can avoid giving Poole Jr. some minutes, especially as the season wears on. He is a good defender.

Jim70
Jim70

Quinton reminds me of tashad prince, spelling?  I never thought he would hold up in the NBA, but had a great career.  Reggie miller was also slight.


Love what he has done this year, and maybe doesn't need to fill out his frame as miller needed to do playing in the post

HarveyPooka
HarveyPooka

Fans have come to expect it, but we really really hope the YellowJackets can get over this seemingly habit of playing not to lose instead of playing to win, especially with leads mid-way through second half.   Stephens is looking smooth and to be gaining confidence.  Hope he can hold up during a rigorous season.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

My 3 takeaways

1.  Home court counts for a lot in the ACC. 

2.  GT is tougher mentally this year than in the previous 3..

3.  ND would have been much tougher if their best player hadn't flunked out of school at the end of the Fall semester

Pistol66
Pistol66

Heyward was the MVP Saturday! Trae couldn't stop Atkins and got in foul trouble and Corey shut him down!  The team is starting to come together after losing Carter and if they play defense like they did against ND they can beat anyone at home!  Syracuse is the only sure loss on the schedule as we only play them up there!  If we can defend home court and pick up a couple on the road, we an get a good seed for the ACC tourney and be right there for a trip to the big dance!  The conference with the exception of the Orange is very even and competitive this year.  Pitt will be big game tomorrow and Alexander should be rocking like Saturday!  I will be there with about 9,000 of my good friends to cheer on the Jackets to victory!  GO JACKETS and THWG!

SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

I ordered a ticket to the UNC game today.  I hope the Jackets have found enough of a rhythm by then to stick it to the Heels

MarineJacket
MarineJacket

Heyward and Stephens played very well.  I was suprised at Heyward's defense.  He showed quickness in not allowing the guards to get into the paint, which he hadn't shown before.  I'm glad I was wrong about his D, I hope I'm wrong about Stephens being able to hold up throughout the season with his slim frame.  His shooting has been the most consistant on the team.

Go Jackets!!!

TechTroll13
TechTroll13

Poole might can play D, but he has too many turnovers and bad shots. 

The last two victories have been games that neither Poole played.  There must be something to that.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@Jim70

Tayshaun Prince - formerly of Kentucky and the Detroit Pistons.  Quinton has Prince's build but he doesn't have his game around the basket just yet.

Quinton Stephens has been a very pleasant surprise

juvenal
juvenal

wish Blues all the best vs. 3 sides between you & Gunners....

MarineJacket
MarineJacket

Also, cbs sports has an android and itunes app for GT sports that is constantly updtated with info for all sports teams with information that is not located on other sites.

GGee
GGee

Stephens is the only player that I dont cringe when they go to take a jumpshot. His looks smooth and confident. I have a feeling he becomes a pretty dang good SF for us. Whether hes a 6th man role or in the starting lineup. If we had Rob playing I have a feeling MGH would move to the 2 and Stephens to the 3.