Posted: 10:02 am Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

8 takeaways from Tech-Duke 

By Ken Sugiura

Thoughts and observations from Georgia Tech’s 68-51 loss to No. 5 Duke. Game story here.

1. Tech ran into a bear Wednesday night. Duke is, as its ranking, roster and record (alliteration unintended) would suggest, is a very good team, and the Yellow Jackets caught them on the wrong night and not quite prepared for what the Blue Devils were bringing.

“Our guys played a heck of a first half,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We played with amazing energy and focus.”

He later added that “I thought defensively we were outstanding tonight.”

Krzyzewski on center Daniel Miller being held to two points: “He didn’t get the ball that much, and he didn’t because our perimeter defense was the best it’s been all year.”

My colleague Laura Keeley, who covers Duke for the News & Observer, assured me that he normally isn’t that pleased with his team’s defense like he was Tuesday. Tech had something to do with it, certainly, but I think the Jackets took close to the best punch Duke could throw in the first half.

2. That being the case, the game was decided quickly well before the first half was over. The Blue Devils were all over the Jackets from the start, applying heavy pressure on the perimeter on guards Chris Bolden, Trae Golden and Corey Heyward. Even when it didn’t result in turnovers, it put the Jackets on their heels and prevented them from running their offense.

“They pressed the whole game, denied the point guard the ball, made other people bring the ball up the court,” forward Robert Carter said. “They just knocked us off our regular rhythm.”

3. It was a night Heyward will want to forget. The freshman has been dependable and strong on the ball, but either was rattled or not quite ready for what he saw Tuesday. He had four turnovers in his first seven minutes of play. Consider this – in his previous three games, he had turned the ball over five minutes in 94 minutes of play.

Krzyewski said Duke didn’t particularly target Heyward – “I think Heyward’s done a great job for them and it’s not like we felt we could take the ball away from him or anything like that” – Gregory thought oppositely.

“Obviously, they went after him,” he said. “And he’s got to learn from it. He’s a tough enough kid. I’ve been through it long enough. I’ve seen point guards that could not get the ball over half-court as freshmen against some teams, and then as seniors, they’re great players for you. You’ve got to learn from that. You’ve got to get better.”

Heyward had one turnover over his final 15 minutes and did seem to steady himself. I do think he has a bright future, particularly as his knee recovers.

4. He may not have seen it as such, but Duke forward Jabari Parker got the upper hand on Miller. In the first game between the two teams, Miller shot 7-for-11, often scoring against Parker while Parker was 4-for-12 for 12 points with six rebounds. Tuesday, Parker scored a game-high 16 on 6-for-12 shooting with 14 rebounds and three blocks. Miller had four points and nine rebounds.

“The first game, he really did a great job,” Parker said of Miller. “He was really good in the inside. He scored on us a lot, fluidly. But I think this game I just read the defense and just got the openings, not necessarily that I’m faster or anything that’s better than him. I just played a good game. He was good, too.”

He made one of the plays of the game in the second half. Tech had reduced Duke’s advantage to 52-40 – it had been as high as 20 points – at 10:19 with some more aggressive and sound play. But then Rodney Hood hit a 3-pointer off his own miss, then Heyward got stuck in the paint and was blocked. On the next possession, Parker fought for an offensive rebound, went back up, was fouled by Miller and scored and converted the free throw for a three-point play. The lead went from 12 to 18 in two Duke possessions, effectively dousing any last remaining hopes for Tech.

5. In his third game back from knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, Carter looked better, making five of nine shots and grabbing eight rebounds in 26 minutes. Holsey was 5-for-8 for 12 points but somehow had just two rebounds, both offensive.

“We need him more engaged on the glass for us on the defensive end,” Gregory said.

Golden scored two points in 17 minutes but showed better mobility and quickness.

“I think with a couple more days of practice, I think he’ll be ready to go and be much more effective on Saturday,” Gregory said.

6. The game really wasn’t in doubt after the lead got to 19 with 5:44 left in the first half, and perhaps earlier. Tech did get the lead back to 12 in the second half, but it was hard to believe that the Blue Devils would let it get much closer.

But make of this what you will – Duke scored 25 points in the second half on 29.2 percent shooting. The Blue Devils have had only one half this season where they scored fewer points and only three halves where they shot a lower percentage from the field. Tech also outrebounded Duke 21-14 after halftime.

However, the Blue Devils still outscored the Jackets 25-24 because they took better care of the ball (eight turnovers for Tech compared to three for Duke) and didn’t let Tech get loose for a significant run.

7. Krzyzewski isn’t always given to giving particularly answers at news conferences, but he seemed to be in the right mood after the game (more below). He was asked about his team’s effort and focus Tuesday, particularly in light of the fact that the Blue Devils play North Carolina Thursday and Syracuse Saturday. His answer:

“We try to do that every game,” he said. “We’ve tried to do that for 30 years. The first four years, I was trying to figure it out. Your respect every game, and if you’re only going to do well on a Saturday night show on Broadway, your show’s not going to last very long. The Wednesday matinee, the Friday, the Thursday (show), you have to do your best, and that’s what we try to do. We respect the heck out of Georgia Tech, and we thought this was a game where they could beat us and they can, because they’re good. But they didn’t, because we played well and we respect the game. That’s what we try to do all the time.”

An interesting comment about his first four years, although Duke did go to the NCAA tournament in that fourth season. Krzyzewski was 38-47 in his first three seasons, 13-29 in the ACC.

8. As he wrapped up, Krzyzewski gave a wink and nod to one of Gregory’s predecessors. He was asked about the team’s social media policy (not sure why) and went on this little soliloquy about how his players shouldn’t live their lives by a tweet or an article and how, “if (that life) was a body of water, it would be a puddle, and you would want to be an ocean. And if you’re listening to one another, the right people, an ocean’s a better place to live.”

Krzyewski paused and noticed the seeming absurdity of his tangent.

“And I haven’t even had any wine,” he said. “I’m going nuts. I think it’s the Cremins influence. I’m probably not making any sense, which he didn’t either, but he was pretty damn good.”

And with that, he ended his post-game news conference. I’ve heard or read Krzyzewski talk about Bobby Cremins before, and the affection and respect he holds for him is obvious. The other thing that strikes me is that it seems like a long, long time ago that Cremins was head coach at Tech – his last season was 1999-2000 – and not only were Cremins and Krzyzewski contemporaries, but Krzyzewski was hired at Duke in 1980, a year before Cremins arrived at Tech.

Krzyzewski is 67, born a few months before Cremins, and is in his 34th season at Duke. That’s some longevity.

31 comments
GTBee
GTBee

Wow didn't realize Gregory is 14-33 in the ACC.  That is horrific!!

GTBee
GTBee

BearCasey....PS:  FIRE THE COACH !

GTBee
GTBee

Duke is a very good team?  Dude, they just got smashed last night!

SillyMutts
SillyMutts

Nobody cares about GT Basketball anymore.  It is beyond irrelevant for 5+ years.  The fans, the players and the team don't care how they look or play.  German Midget Ice Dancing > GT Hoops!!! Pathetic.  Bobinski should be hauled off by his nose hairs.  What a pathetic excuse for an AD.

Greentow
Greentow

GT's HC offense had no movement away from the ball at all.  The offense was one guy dribbling, another trying to set a high ball screen which never produced any results, and the rest standing around watching.  The coach needs to do something other than stand there all night with that bemused look on his face chewing his brains out; but then, if it hasn't been worked it out in practice, that might be all he can do.

BearCasey
BearCasey

The level of conversation on this blog deteriorates rapidly.  I love how guys who have never coached a practice or game in their lives always have "fire the coach" as their only solution.

GTRay
GTRay

I started watching Tech basketball when Whack Hyder was our coach.  And he even coached one of my PE classes.  Of course, that was before coaches did nothing but coach their respective teams.  


My opinion on Gregory – give him a chance, another couple of years.  One could argue that, with all the adversity, this season shouldn't be counted against him.  What team plays without its top 3 point guards and still remains competitive?  And when that happens to a team, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know what the other teams are probably going to focus on defensively.  What team loses its arguably most talented big man for much of the season and keeps winning?  Yes, we didn’t play like a championship team last night, but I also saw a lot of good things.  Yes, we threw the ball away too much, yet we only had 13 TOs.  Yes, Duke at times was a monster offensively – especially hitting all those 3s.  But at the same time, I saw us play tough many times on defense.  Yes, we had difficulty scoring, but we held Duke without a basket for a long stretch (5 minutes?) in the second half.


Being realistic, I see a relatively young team that, in spite of the adversity, is still giving 100% effort.  They haven't given up.  And I'm certainly not ready to give up on them.

 

StingerSplash
StingerSplash

1. Tech ran into a bear Wednesday night.


I hope we're not playing them again tonight. (Easy mistake to make, Ken, given a late starting time and a new little one, no?)

khd713
khd713

Cremins' last years were a disaster. His final team with Tony Akins at point and Alvin Jones underneath was awful to watch – one of my least favorite Tech teams ever, and even more painful to watch than this year's bunch. What Cremins did for Ga. Tech basketball was monumental and cannot be praised enough, but let's not rewrite the reality that was. When he left, he was done and it was time. The Tech fan base was not just shooing, but was kicking him out the door. Losing Perry Clark did have an impact, but he would have recovered from that. What did him in was leaving for USC and then coming back. Program never was the same after that. Also, Hewitt did not take Cremins' players to the Championship. That happened in Hewitt's fourth season. Cremins might have approached some of that group when they were in high school, but it was Hewitt who sealed the deal. To call them Cremins' players is just wrong. 

WilliamBuchheit
WilliamBuchheit

Cremins wasn't much of a coach either, had a losing ACC record.

leegoza
leegoza

"Not quite prepared for what the Blue Devils were bringing" is all that needs to be said about last night's game. With the Tarheels and Syracuse coming up, it would have been understandable if Duke hadn't been psyched up to play lowly GT. What's our excuse for not being ready to play them?

TechTroll13
TechTroll13

@Robert30

I guess you didn't notice in the article Coach K's ACC record in his first three years, which was a winning %  of .309.  Cremin's ACC record his first three years was a winning % of .309 - exactly the same.  Gregory's ACC record (with games left in third season) is a winning % of .311.  I guess under your logic you would have fired both Coach K and Cremins. 

Also, CPH didn't go to the Final Four in his first year with Cremin's players.  Bobby failed to make the NCAAs his last four years..

ToeMeetsLeather
ToeMeetsLeather

@Ken, #8 - Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I have some fond memories, as a student, of sitting in the dimly lit ThrillerDome watching RatFace & BC go at it with the likes of Dawkins/Bilas battling Price/Salley. Those were certainly the days. The early departures did Cremins in, that and losing Perry Clark off the bench. Of course the entire college basketball world is a shell of what it used to be. Thanks NBA.

As CPJ would say, it is never as bad as it seems at times or as good as it seems as well. Just need to get everyone back healthy, study this game film on how a great team plays defense(& study it often), and get ready for Clem & Clem's son.

RBR
RBR

I've said this many times before....  Cremins was going through a lull in his career and I honestly believed he would've turned it around with a little encouragement and maybe a hiatus (Coach K took a year off for back surgery / rest and Dook only on like 2 acc games but that was the rest he needed).  We were getting too impatient and decided to run off the best thing that happened to Tech in a long, long time.  We made our bed and now we have to sleep in it.   Gregory might be the best dressed coach in NCAA basketball but he's not shown me much in the coaching department.  The kids have no clue what they are doing offensively.  

Robert30
Robert30

How much longer can Tech go with Gregory? He was on the hot seat at Dayton when Tech hired him. It was a cheap hire due to Paul Hewitt's contract that Dave Brainless gave him. There's a old saying you pay for what you get and we now see what we got with Gregory. Unless we want to settle with mediocrity we need a coaching change. I'm sure Gregory is a nice guy but he was about to be run off at Dayton because he was not getting anywhere with the team there. I remember the good old days with Bobby when we were winning the ACC and going far in the NCAA's. Even PH's first year when he went to the Final 4 with Bobby's players. Now it would be a big achievement to get in the NIT's. It showed me how low the expectations have gotten when the AD celebrated a win over BC the other day. It's time for a coaching change. We spent the money on a big time remodel of the arena. Having a mediocre team just won't get it.

juvenal
juvenal

Miller missed an intermediate jumper, & did not try another, but he looked tired, Marcus not even trying to balance outside shooting with playing inside was critical, Poole looks like he should play more, did not seem to be intimidated just because it was Duke.....hindsight being 20/20 obviously not true, cph being so erratic after such an amazing start was deemed by most LONG TERM posters here(i.e., started with Doug) because of complacency due to the worst contract in the history of $port$; also, in the NEW APR era, cph 1 & dones cost us scholies, Cremins would probably even be worse......common thread, don't extend contacts based on short term results, no matter how good......

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

What a debacle.

If I had to choose between the two, I'd keep PJ over Gregory w/o a seconds hesitation!

At least Paul Hewwitt got y'all at the dinner table with 5 star recruits.

WilliamBuchheit
WilliamBuchheit

Hewitt's first 3 years at Tech: 22-26 ACC record, 1 NIT, 1 NCAA appearance.

Gregory's first 3 years: 14-33 ACC record, 0 NITs, 0 NCAAs.

.....Tick tock tick tock

juvenal
juvenal

but, hey, why let facts get in the way of opinions, esp. revisionist history ones........

TechTroll13
TechTroll13

They're better than us.

Their defense was impressive, but I was surprised we only had 13 turnovers.  In the past, that type of defense would generate 25 TOs. 

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

Well said Toe.

Cremins would make a great AD for Tech.

Cremins did more for the Institute than Bobby Dodd.

If y'all would get off your tails & put Cremins in charge of Tech's athletic department, you'll see immediate results.

juvenal
juvenal

money for McP, donated, give them several mil & i bet they would give you a BIG voice in the coach-$ spent getting rid of chan & hewitt, + $ spent on facilities, + dumb extension for Grgory =no $ to change anybody......

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

Don't forget, he was given a contract extension(literally out of nowhere) before the season. :(

Some posters on here questioned that reasoning -- primarily myself & someone named Ciraldos Ghost!

MikeBanning
MikeBanning

@BigCrimson75  

I remember that guy!

Real smart guy that always had great stuff to say, yet he found himself banned for some reason or another.

With him and others banned, I'm surprised that GT didn't beat Dook, after all, that is what is most central to improving GT sports, banning the "dissenters" from the AJC Blogs!

juvenal
juvenal

Man City is a beast, don't want to see them again in the uefas, 2nd a toss between yall & us, 4th  a fascinating brawl twixt, the other Blues, the other Reds, & Spurs.......we did not drop a wad on RIP because of his injury history.......

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

Juvie.....You're beloved Gunners & Man City might reclaim the drivers seat this weekend.

Everton worries me.

Arsenal & MC have cakewalks with Sunderland & Stoke. :(

Enjoy it while it lasts!

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

Don't you have a schooner full of gay pirates to tend to?

juvenal
juvenal

look it up, i was the first to decry the dreaded contract extension curse.......btw, applaud your new found brevity, but, as for being the soul of wit, Mike, the G thing is the antithesis......